Structural styles in the Papuan Fold Belt, Papua New Guinea: constraints from analogue modelling
Kevin C. Hill, Katie Lucas, Keith Bradey, 2010. "Structural styles in the Papuan Fold Belt, Papua New Guinea: constraints from analogue modelling", Hydrocarbons in Contractional Belts, G. P. Goffey, J. Craig, T. Needham, R. Scott
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Cross sections, seismic data and centrifuge analogue modelling reveal the structural styles in the oil-producing areas of the Papuan Fold Belt. They include inverted basement faults, detachment faults in the Jurassic section 1–2 km beneath the Neocomian Toro Sandstone reservoir, and tight, overturned folds in the reservoir sequence with stretched and boudinaged forelimbs, cut by break-thrusts. Additional features include highly variable thicknesses in the Cretaceous Ieru Formation, the regional seal sequence, including through-going detachments that isolate the overlying thick Miocene Darai Limestone. Centrifuge analogue modelling of intact, plane-layered strata determined that the mechanical stratigraphy and the thickness of weak beds above the lower décollement horizon exert the greatest control on the structural style. Large-offset thrust faults were only produced in models with pre-cut faults, generating early inversion and then large ramp anticlines, similar to those in the Kutubu Oilfield, which has reserves of >350 million barrels. It is suggested that the Kutubu Oilfield trend was underlain by a large normal fault and that, by analogy with the Vulcan Sub-basin, oil-rich source rocks may be confined to the hanging wall or north side of this fault. Oil would have been generated and expelled during thin-skinned deformation.
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Onshore fold–thrust belts are commonly perceived as ‘difficult’ places to explore for hydrocarbons and are therefore often avoided. However, these belts host large oil and gas fields and so these barriers to effective exploration mean that substantial unexploited resources may remain. Over time, evaluation techniques have improved. It is possible in certain circumstances to achieve good 3D seismic data. Structural restoration techniques have moved into the 3D domain and increasingly sophisticated palaeo-thermal indicators allow better modelling of burial and uplift evolution of source and reservoirs. Awareness of the influence of pre-thrust structure and stratigraphy and of hybrid thick and thin-skinned deformation styles is augmenting the simplistic geometric models employed in earlier exploration. But progress is a slow, expensive and iterative process. Industry and academia need to collaborate in order to develop and continually improve the necessary understanding of subsurface geometries, reservoir and charge evolution and timing; this publication offers papers on specific techniques, outcrop and field case studies.