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Subduction zones and their hydrocarbon systems

Angela M. Hessler and Glenn R. Sharman
Subduction zones and their hydrocarbon systems
Geosphere (Boulder, CO) (October 2018) 14 (5): 2044-2067


Subduction zones are common tectonic features central to large-scale crustal and elemental cycling, and they are accompanied by basins often with thick sedimentary fill and structures suitable for hydrocarbon preservation. However, significant hydrocarbon production occurs in only a handful of subduction zone locations. Here we explore our current understanding of the controls on hydrocarbon systems associated with subduction zones, in terms of the strongly variable conditions inherent to this tectonic setting that either favor or limit petroleum production, and in the context of three case studies (Cook Inlet and Sacramento basins, USA; Talara basin, Peru). This review concentrates on continental rather than intra-oceanic subduction settings due to limited basin preservation and hydrocarbon prospectivity in the latter. Overall, the primary limitations on hydrocarbon potential in forearc and/or trench-slope basins are time-to-maturation (low geothermal gradients), reservoir quality, source-rock presence and quality, structural complexity, and depth to reservoir. The latter two conditions may explain why offshore exploration has been limited near subduction zones, even where onshore production is robust and/or hydrocarbon seeps are common. Prospectivity may increase with enhanced seismic imaging and offshore infrastructure in some locations, and with the economic development of unconventional resources such as gas hydrates in accretionary prisms or deep shale gas in forearc basins. In any case, the presence of hydrocarbon systems in subduction zones, whether prospective or not, is an important part of the cycling of carbon and other elements at active convergent margins.

EISSN: 1553-040X
Serial Title: Geosphere (Boulder, CO)
Serial Volume: 14
Serial Issue: 5
Title: Subduction zones and their hydrocarbon systems
Affiliation: Deep Time Institute, Austin, TX, United States
Pages: 2044-2067
Published: 201810
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
References: 190
Accession Number: 2019-006698
Categories: Solid-earth geophysicsEconomic geology, geology of energy sources
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sects., 2 tables, geol. sketch maps
Secondary Affiliation: University of Arkansas, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201906
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