Palaeohighs: their influence on the North African Palaeozoic petroleum systems

Abstract : We present new insights for the characterization of the petroleum system evolution in North Africa based on a review of the stratigraphic architecture description of some selected North African Palaeozoic basins. During Palaeozoic time, the Gondwana platform was divided into sub-basins bounded by structural highs. Most of the highs were inherited from north-south and SW-NE Panafrican crustal faults which were reactivated during the Palaeozoic and later, in the Austrian and Alpine tectonic phases. We studied the stratigraphic architecture of the Palaeozoic succession around four main highs showing a clear tectonic activity during the Palaeozoic sedimentation. The Gargaff Arch, in Lybia, is a major SW-NE broad anticline which slowly grew up during the Cambrian and Ordovician and stopped rising during the Silurian. The activity resumed during Late Silurian and early Devonian and during the Late Devonian. The Tihemboka High is a north-south anticline in between Libya and Algeria. The uplift started during the Cambro-Ordovician then stopped during most of the Silurian. The activity resumed during the Late Silurian and continued until the Lower Carboniferous. The Ahara High, separating the Illizi and Berkine basins in Algeria, has continuously grown during the Cambro-Ordovician, stopped rising during the Silurian, and grew again continuously during the Devonian. The Bled El-Mass High is a part of the Azzel-matti ridge separating the Ahnet and Reggane basins in Algeria. The high mostly rose during the Cambro-Ordovician then subsided relatively less quickly than the surrounding basins during the Silurian and Devonian. The uplift timing and chronology of each palaeohigh partly controlled the petroleum systems of the surrounding basins. Topographic lows favoured the occurrence of anoxic conditions and the preservation of Lower Silurian and Frasnian source rocks. Complex progressive unconformities developed around the palaeohighs form potential complex tectono-stratigraphic traps. Finally, hydrocarbons could have been trapped around the highs during pre-Hercynian times, preserving reservoir porosity from early silicification. Mixed stratigraphic-structural plays could then be present today around the highs.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 3:32:28 PM
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Rémi Eschard, F. Braik, D. Bekkouche, M. Ben Rahuma, Guy Desaubliaux, et al.. Palaeohighs: their influence on the North African Palaeozoic petroleum systems. B A Vining and S C Pickering. Petroleum Geology: From Mature Basins to New Frontiers. Proceedings of the 7th Petroleum Geology Conference, Geological Society of London, pp.1-18, 2011. ⟨insu-00677501⟩

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