The Dezful Embayment and Abadan Plain (SW Iran) contain major parts of the remaining Iranian oil reserves. These oil provinces are characterized by two types of structural closure: very gentle N–S- to NE–SW-trending basement-cored anticlines (Arabian-type highs) in the SE; and open to tight, NW–SE-trending thrust-related folds in the NE (Zagros Fold–Thrust Belt; ZFTB). Most deep-seated anticlines are upright and symmetrical in Cretaceous and older units. In some cases they reveal steep faults in their core which, in the light of regional observations, suggest that the basement is involved in the faulting. Untested plays around these anticlines include reefal build-ups, debris flows, truncated sedimentary sections and onlapping clastic units.

The ZFTB shows a classic structural style, with overall shortening reflected in thrust displacement declining from the Dezful Embayment towards the frontal zone in the Abadan Plain. The Early Cambrian Hormuz Salt represents the fundamental sole for the fold–thrust belt and locates major fault-propagation folds in the southwestern Dezful Embayment. These folds represent the main petroleum target of the area. Another important unit is the Mid-Miocene Gachsaran Formation. This detachment reveals both in-sequence and out-of-sequence thrusting. Interaction of deep-seated anticlines and fold–thrust structures results in thrust imbrications and formation of duplexes within the Gachsaran Formation when thrusts abut deep-seated anticlines. Above the crest of the anticlines, thrusts are forced up-section into syn-tectonic deposits, whereas the forelimb reveals out-of-the-syncline thrusts. Several petroleum plays are identified in such zones of structural interaction, including anticlines above buttress-related duplexes, out-of-sequence imbricate thrust fans with associated folds above major anticlines, truncation of footwall layers below potentially sealing thrusts, and sub-thrust anticlines.

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