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Convergent orogenic systems pose challenges for the prospector seeking to predict oil and gas reservoirs, as these regions are often data poor. Explorationists, therefore, must often rely on conceptual models to predict the occurrence of oil and gas, and to choose the most favorable exploration areas. This paper examines how different conceptual models of hinterland evolution can influence predictions of hydrocarbon systems in an adjacent foreland. A one-dimensional (1-D) method was developed for assessing incremental hydrocarbon yield during progressive fold-belt deformation and source rock burial and maturation. This method was employed to evaluate the way in which hydrocarbon yield is affected by two different scenarios for the timing of uplift of the Puna Plateau and subsequent burial of the adjacent Metán region of northwestern Argentina. In the first scenario, plateau growth and burial of the Metán region begin in the early Miocene and progress to the present day. In the second scenario, plateau growth and basin formation occur predominantly in the Eocene, with minor deformation from middle Miocene to present. The later load timing decreases the relative volume of liquid hydrocarbons available to fill structural traps. The differences in charge volume and timing between the two scenarios are enhanced in this region as a result of thinned crust and relatively high heat flow that linger from a Cretaceous rifting event. The results of the study provide an example of how boundary conditions obtained from studies of an orogenic hinterland can be used to calculate risk for exploring a potential play within a basin where data are incomplete or inconclusive. They also yield general insights on the use of regional genetic concepts to predict thermal history and source rock maturation and yield in data-poor areas.

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