Abstract

Across the Nechako–Chilcotin plateau of British Columbia, the distribution of Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, which are considered prospective for hydrocarbon exploration, is poorly known due to the surface cover of glacial deposits and Tertiary volcanic rocks. To constrain the subsurface distribution of these Cretaceous rocks, in 2008 Geoscience BC acquired seven long, up to 14.4 km, offset vibroseis seismic reflection lines across a north-northwest-trending belt of exhumed sedimentary rocks inferred to be part of the Taylor Creek Group. P-wave velocity models, which are consistent with sonic logs from nearby wells, have been estimated using three-dimensional first-arrival tomography to depths ranging from 1 to 4 km. Igneous basement can be identified on most lines using the 5.5 km/s isovelocity contour, which locates the top of the basement to an accuracy of ∼400 m where its depth is known in exploration wells. There is no general distinction on the basis of seismic velocity between Cretaceous sedimentary and Paleocene–Eocene volcanic–volcaniclastic rocks, both of which appear to be characterized in the tomographic models by velocities of 3.0–5.0 km/s. The geometry of the igneous basement inferred from the velocity models identifies north-trending basins and ridges, which correlate with exposed rocks of the Jurassic Hazelton Group. Identified Cretaceous sedimentary rocks occur beneath less negative Bouguer gravity anomalies, but the original distribution of these rocks has been disrupted by later Tertiary extension that created north-trending basins associated with the most negative gravity anomalies. We suggest that Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, if deposited, could be preserved within these basins if the rocks had not been eroded prior to Tertiary extension.

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