Structural Styles, their Plate Tectonic Habitats and Hydrocarbon Traps in Petroleum Provinces
Published:January 01, 1983
T.P. Harding, J.D. Lowell, 1983. "Structural Styles, their Plate Tectonic Habitats and Hydrocarbon Traps in Petroleum Provinces", Seismic Expression of Structural Styles: A Picture and Work Atlas. Volume 1–The Layered Earth, Volume 2–Tectonics Of Extensional Provinces, & Volume 3–Tectonics Of Compressional Provinces, A. W. Bally
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Broadly interrelated assemblages of geologic structures constitute the fundamental structural styles of petroleum provinces. These assemblages generally are repeated in regions of similar deformation, and their associated hydrocarbon traps can be anticipated prior to exploration. Styles are differentiated on the basis of basement involvement or detachment of sedimentary cover. Basement-involved styles include wrench-fault structural assemblages, compressive fault blocks and basement thrusts, extensional fault blocks, and warps. Detached styles are decollement thrust-fold assemblages, detached normal faults ("growth faults" and others), salt structures, and shale structures.
These basic styles are related to the larger kinematics of plate tectonics and, in some situations, to particular depositional histories. Most styles have preferred plate-tectonic habitats: (1) wrench faults at transform and convergent plate boundaries; (2) compressive fault blocks and basement thrusts at convergent boundaries, particularly in forelands and orogenic belts; (3) extensional fault blocks at divergent boundaries in all stages of completion and certain parts of convergent boundaries; (4) basement warps in a variety of plate-interior and boundary settings; (5) decollement thrust-fold belts in trench inner walls and foreland zones of convergent boundaries; (6) detached normal faults, usually in unstable, thick clastic wedges (mostly deltas); (7) salt structures primarily in interior grabens that may evolve to completed divergent boundaries; and (8) shale structures in regions with thick overpressured shale sequences.
Important differences in trend arrangements and structural morphologies provide criteria for differentiation of styles. These differences also result in different kinds of hydrocarbon traps. Wrenchrelated structural assemblages are concentrated along throughgoing zones and many have en echelon arrangements. The basic hydrocarbon trap is the en echelon anticline, in places assisted by closure directly against the wrench fault itself. Compressive and extensional fault styles typically have multiple, repeated trends, which combine to form zigzag, dogleg, or other grid patterns. Their main trap types are fault closures and drape folds above the block boundaries. Basement warps (domes, arches, etc.) are mostly solitary features and commonly provide long-lived positive areas for hydrocarbon concentration in broadly flexed closures.
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Seismic Expression of Structural Styles: A Picture and Work Atlas. Volume 1–The Layered Earth, Volume 2–Tectonics Of Extensional Provinces, & Volume 3–Tectonics Of Compressional Provinces
Until a few decades ago, structural and regional geology were traditionally the preserve of field geologists. They usually mapped areas of outcropping deformed rocks and supplemented their work by laboratory studies of rock deformation and by theoretical work. Structural geology became tied to the geology of uplifts, folded belts, and underground mines, all of which were accessible to direct observation. Since World War II we have witnessed a tremendous development of geophysics in oceanography and in petroleum geology. Academic geophysicists in oceanography led their geological colleagues into modern plate tectonics and industry geophysicists developed reflection seismology into a superb structural mapping tool that penetrated the subsurface.
Today we are facing a situation where instruction and textbooks in structural geology are almost entirely dedicated to rock deformation, analytical techniques in detailed field geology and summaries of plate tectonics. Illustrations based on reflection seismic profiles are virtually absent in textbooks of structural geology. These texts illustrate only the parts of the proverbial elephant, together with some conjecture, but without ever offering a glimpse of the whole elephant.
Some of the reason cited for the relative scarcity of published reflection profiles are: 1) the confidentiality of exploration data; 2) difficulties in the photographic reduction and reproduction of seismic profiles for a book format; 3) the two-dimensional nature of vertical reflection profiles; and 4) the obvious distortions in reflection profiles that are typically recorded in time.
The AAPG leadership felt that it was time to attempt to correct the situation and to produce this picture and work atlas. The first volumes, of what may become a series of volumes, are addressing an audience that includes: petroleum geologists concerned with structural interpretations; exploration companies that provide in-house training; the AAPG continuing education program; and academic colleagues interested in updating their curricula in structural geology by inclusion of reflection profiles from the “real world” in their teaching.
The atlas is not meant to be a textbook in reflection seismology (instead we listed some at the end of this introduction) nor a text in structural and/or regional geology. Our intent is simply to provide a teaching tool.