The area of influence of the Magdalena submarine fan, offshore northern Colombia, is a global frontier basin with sparse well control and only publically available 2D seismic from which to conduct exploration surveys. We have conducted a 2D seismic stratigraphic study to advance knowledge of the tectonostratigraphic evolution of this area and, furthermore, optimize exploration concepts to include stratigraphy and sedimentology to enhance such opportunities. Eight third-order seismic sequences from the early Miocene to Holocene comprise the stratigraphic record. Seismic character, thickness, and sedimentary processes vary in each sequence based on the area of deposition. Three geomorphologic areas are subject to deposition: the Tayrona depression, the undeformed central Magdalena fan and deformed wedges on either side of the fan. From oldest to youngest, sequences I to V represent bathyal paleo-environments that were deformed during the late Miocene Andean phase. Deformation of these sequences is thin skinned thrust sheets, where the main basal detachment corresponds to Oligocene shale. This deformation continued until the middle Pliocene, when sequence VI and VII were deposited on the Magdalena Fan mainly as mass transport and channel-levee deposits. Sequence VIII represents the record from early Pleistocene to the present time. From early Pliocene to present, erosion was mainly the product of submarine fan activity and bypass in areas of high slope, whereas for older deposits, erosion was caused by exposure to subaerial conditions. Superimposed on the third-order sequences are fourth-order sequences, which reveal a relative (tectonic-eustatic) sea level increase from Early Miocene to middle Late Miocene (Tortonian) time, followed by a lowstand event that extended until Holocene time. Potential reservoirs embedded within the sequences include sheet sands, channel fills, and levee-overbank. Other components of the petroleum system such as a mature source rock are still under debate.

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