Abstract

Recent hydrocarbon exploration in western Newfoundland has resulted in six new wells in the Port au Port Peninsula area. Port au Port No.1, drilled in 1994/95, penetrated the Cambro-Ordovician platform and underlying Grenville basement in the hanging wall of the southeast-dipping Round Head Thrust, terminated in the platform succession in the footwall of this basement-involved inversion structure, and discovered the Garden Hill petroleum pool. The most recent well, Shoal Point K-39, was drilled in 1999 to test a model in which the Round Head Thrust loses reverse displacement to the northeast, eventually becoming a normal fault. This model hinged on an interpretation of a seismic reflection survey acquired in 1996 in Port au Port Bay. This survey is now in the public domain.

In our interpretation of these data, the Round Head Thrust is associated with another basement-involved feature, the northwest-dipping Piccadilly Bay Fault, which is mapped on Port au Port Peninsula. Active as normal faults in the Taconian foreland, both these faults were later inverted during Acadian orogenesis. The present reverse offset on the Piccadilly Bay Fault was previously interpreted as normal offset on the southeast-dipping Round Head Thrust. Our new interpretation is consistent with mapping on Port au Port Peninsula and north of Stephenville, where all basement-involved faults are inverted and display reverse senses of motion. It also explains spatially restricted, enigmatic reflections adjacent to the faults as carbonate conglomerates of the Cape Cormorant Formation or Daniel’s Harbour Member, units associated with inverted thick-skinned faults. The K-39 well, which targeted the footwall of the Round Head Thrust, actually penetrated the hanging wall of the Piccadilly Bay Fault. This distinction is important because the reservoir model invoked for this play involved preferential karstification and subsequent dolomitization in the footwalls of inverted thick-skinned faults. The apparent magnitude of structural inversion across the Piccadilly Bay Fault suggests other possible structural plays to the northeast of K-39.

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