Previous Studies of the Maldives Carbonate Platform
2004. "Previous Studies of the Maldives Carbonate Platform", Seismic Expressions and Interpretation of Carbonate Sequences: The Maldives Platform, Equatorial Indian Ocean, Andrei V. Belopolsky, André W. Droxler
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Early expeditions to the Maldives included bathymetric surveys as well as studies of the ecology of the coral reefs and associated fauna (see summaries in Ciarapica and Passeri, 1993, and Purdy and Bertram, 1993). A myriad of atolls in the Maldives stimulated some of the greatest scientific minds to develop the theories of atoll formation (Darwin, 1842; Agassiz, 1903). The low-lying atolls, however, provided little clue about the history of the Maldives beyond the Holocene. This situation changed when oil companies became interested in the hydrocarbon potential of the Maldives. From 1968 to 1978, a consortium led by Elf Aquitaine held an exploration license over the Inner Sea Basin and much of the archipelago. Between 1971 and 1974, Elf acquired 6750 km of 2-D deep-marine and shallow-water seismic data, 2700 km of which was collected in the atoll lagoons.
In 1976, Elf drilled the NMA-1 (TD 2221 m) water-bearing well in the lagoon of the North Male atoll. The drilling encountered porous carbonate rocks and a potential source rock before penetrating late Paleocene basalts. In 1987, ODP Leg 115 drilled several sites in the equatorial Indian Ocean, including three in the Maldives (Backman et al., 1988). The NMA-1 well, the ODP sites, and a significant portion of the seismic data acquired by the Elf consortium were studied by Aubert and Droxler (1992) and by Purdy and Bertram (1993).
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Seismic Expressions and Interpretation of Carbonate Sequences: The Maldives Platform, Equatorial Indian Ocean
Shallow-water carbonate sediments deposited in tropical and subtropical settings form thick and spatially extensive accumulations referred to as “carbonate platforms.” Carbonate platforms typically have life spans of millions of tens of milliions of years, and their birth, growth, and demise are governed by a combination of factors such as tectonics, eustasy, environmental conditions, and climate. Carbonate platforms contain an archive of variations of these factors through time in its sedimentary record. These changes can then be extracted from this record, providing insight into our understanding of sedimentary processes and enhancing our knowledge of earth’s history. This study examines the stratigraphy and evolution of the Maldives isolated carbonate platform, in the equatorial Indian Ocean. The Maldives platform is unique because of its enormous size (800 x 130 km). It is the second-largest modern isolated carbonate platform (after the Bahamas). Established in the early Eocene and now more than 3 km thick, the platform contains a sedimentary record which spans more than 50 million years. This study is based on interpretation of the regional 2-D seismic data set and data from one deep exploration well that resulted from Royal Dutch/Shell during its exploration campaign in 1989-1991. The excellent quality and the vast volume (6000km of seismic data) allowed the authors to conduct a detailed study of the Maldives platform.