1D and 3D basin modelling was performed to investigate the Mesozoic carbonate petroleum systems of the Po Valley Basin (northern Italy), through integration of a recent 3D structural model of the study area with the distribution of potential Triassic source rocks, rock properties and heat flow models.
Results from standard 1D maturity models show significant overprediction of the thermal maturity of deep Triassic carbonates in the western Po Valley, unless the effect of the substantial overpressure observed in these sequences is incorporated into the model. In order to further test this observation, two thermal scenarios were applied to the Po Valley 3D geo-volume: one based on the actual geological heat flow and a second model based on a reduced heat flow as a proxy for the delaying effect of overpressure on hydrocarbon maturation. The predictions of these two models were then compared with the observed hydrocarbon distribution in the western Po Valley.
Both thermal scenarios are broadly consistent with the observed hydrocarbon distribution at the scale of the basin but, in detail, the overpressure model provides a better match between the predicted charge available from the kitchen area's post-critical moment and observed volumes of hydrocarbons initially in place within the traps, as well as with the observed and predicted hydrocarbon phases, as measured by the gas/oil ratio (GOR) of the fluids. Overpressure probably significantly delayed hydrocarbon maturation in the western domain of the basin, confirming results from previous studies.
Beyond regional implications, and despite its relative simplicity and inherent uncertainties, the adopted approach demonstrates the potential of a consistent 3D integration of the thermostructural history of sedimentary basins to constrain the geometry and structural evolution of hydrocarbon-bearing traps, as well as the generation and migration of hydrocarbons into these traps.