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Present address: Mobil Exploration &Producing U.S., Houston, Texas, U.S.A.


Application of sequence stratigraphic concepts to seismic reflection profiles from the Bransfield Basin indicates that this modern backarc basin began to form during the waning stages of subduction at the South Shetland Trench at about 4 Ma. Two distinct systems tracts stack to form depositional sequences; organic-rich hemipelagic sediments drape the basin during highstands/interglacial periods, whereas large volumes of glacially eroded terrigenous sediments prograde into the basin during lowstands/ glacial maxima. Although the juxtaposition of organic- rich diatomaceous muds with the high heat flow of the backarc spreading system is favorable for the generation of hydrocarbons, reservoir quality sands and suitable traps have yet to be identified.

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