The Stratigraphic Record of Minibasin Subsidence, Precaspian Basin, Kazakhstan

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Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson , Oliver B. Duffy, Naiara Fernandez, Timothy Dooley, Michael Hudec, Martin P.A. Jackson, George Berg


Minibasins are fundamental components of many salt-bearing sedimentary basins, where they may host large volumes of hydrocarbons. Although we understand the basic mechanics governing their subsidence, we know surprisingly little of how minibasins subside in three-dimensions over geological timescales, or what controls such variability. Such knowledge would improve our ability to constrain initial salt volumes in sedimentary basins, the timing of salt welding, and the distribution and likely charging histories of suprasalt hydrocarbon reservoirs. We use 3D seismic reflection data from the Precaspian Basin, onshore Kazakhstan to reveal the subsidence histories of 16, Upper Permian-to-Triassic, suprasalt minibasins. These minibasins subsided into a Lower-to-Middle Permian salt layer that contained numerous relatively strong, clastic-dominated minibasins encased during an earlier, latest Permian phase of diapirism; because of this, the salt varied in thickness. Suprasalt minibasins contain a stratigraphic record of symmetric (bowl-shaped units) and then asymmetric (wedge-shaped units) subsidence, with this change in style seemingly occurring at different times in different minibasins, and most likely prior to welding. We complement our observations from natural minibasins in the Precaspian Basin with results arising from new physical sandbox models; this allows us to explore the potential controls on minibasin subsidence patterns, before assessing which of these might be applicable to our natural example. We conclude that due to uncertainties in the original spatial relationships between encased and suprasalt minibasins, and the timing of changes in style of subsidence between individual minibasins, it is unclear why such complex temporal and spatial variations in subsidence occur in the Precaspian Basin. Regardless of what controls the observed variability, we argue that vertical changes in minibasin stratigraphic architecture may not record the initial (depositional) thickness of underlying salt or the timing of salt welding; this latter point is critical when attempting to constrain the timing of potential hydraulic communication between sub-salt source rocks and suprasalt reservoirs. Furthermore, temporal changes in minibasin subsidence style will likely control suprasalt reservoir distribution and trapping style.



Earth Sciences, Geology, Other Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Stratigraphy, Tectonics and Structure


salt tectonics, minibasin, subsidence, minibasins, halokinesis, salt diapirism, passive diapirism, Precaspian Basin


Published: 2019-02-14 03:07

Last Updated: 2019-07-19 01:31

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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