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Abstract

About 3 million years ago, major ice sheets developed over Scandinavia and began to deliver large volumes of sediment to the mid-Norwegian shelf. The shelf was built out in a prograding pattern towards the west, and more than 1000 m of sediments was deposited over large areas on the middle/outer shelf. The dominating large-scale depositional pattern is a series of prograding wedges and flat-lying, sheet-like units mainly of glacial origin. On top of these units are flat-lying till units deposited during the last few glaciations, commonly separated from the underlying units by one or several erosional unconformities. The lithology of these layers is generally fine-grained, mainly clay and silt, but with sporadic clasts up to boulder size. Based on regional and detailed bathymetry, the ice-flow pattern from the last glaciation has been reconstructed on the shelf. This involved a very dynamic ice sheet with fast-flowing ice streams in the transverse, cross-shelf troughs, separated by more passive ice domes on the intermediate shallow banks. The ice streams appear to follow the cross-shelf troughs from glaciation to glaciation, but occasionally they switched to new flow paths. The thick Quaternary sediments on the outer part of the mid-Norwegian shelf represent a challenge for hydrocarbon exploration. Several large slides have occurred from the shelf break and down the continental slope. During the last few years there has been an increased focus on investigating the Quaternary succession in order to search for hydrocarbon prospects. The potential for finding reservoirs in these sediments is discussed, and a few examples of gas discoveries are shown. The Peon gas field (c. 250 km2) is located in the glacially eroded Norwegian Channel above the Upper Regional Unconformity (URU) separating flat-lying glaciogenic sediments from dipping sedimentary units. The reservoir is developed in glaciofluvial sands a few hundred thousand years old, and sealed by flat-lying glaciomarine sediments and till units.

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