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The eastern Mississippi Canyon area has long been known as a prolific Miocene oil and gas province. Organic rich shales and marls of Tithonian and Oxfordian age strata are considered the major source rocks in the region. Recently however, attention has been directed towards the intervening siliciclastic Cretaceous strata as an enticing exploration target.

This presentation focuses on the duality of the Cretaceous section as both a “first carrier” for hydrocarbons expelled from Late Jurassic source rocks and as a potentially significant “container” for hydrocarbon accumulations as well.

Examined are the petroleum system elements and processes of eastern Mississippi Canyon. Emphasis is placed on the relative roles of vertical versus lateral secondary hydrocarbon migration from source to trap. Fluid properties from sampled accumulations help constrain model-derived estimates of thermal maturation, migration timing, loss en route and potentially available hydrocarbon yield.

The “carrier/container” nature of the Cretaceous is characterized through multiple scenarios that address: Subsurface pressure relationships, bed-seal and fault properties; as well as seismically derived lithology and facies distributions. Fetch area constrained source rock expulsion through the Cretaceous is modeled, taking into account known Miocene accumulations. The results of such analyses lend insight into hydrocarbon potential within the Cretaceous.

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