Hot, deep origin of petroleum: deep basin evidence and application

Open-File Report 78-1020




Use of the model of a hot deep origin of oil places rigid constraints on the migration and entrapment of crude oil. Specifically, oil originating from depth migrates vertically up faults and is emplaced in traps at shallower depths. Review of petroleum-producing basins worldwide shows oil occurrence in these basins conforms to the restraints of and therefore supports the hypothesis. Most of the world's oil is found in the very deepest sedimentary basins, and production over or adjacent to the deep basin is cut by or directly updip from faults dipping into the basin deep. Generally the greater the fault throw the greater the reserves. Fault-block highs next to deep sedimentary troughs are the best target areas by the present concept. Traps along major basin-forming faults are quite prospective. The structural style of a basin governs the distribution, types, and amounts of hydrocarbons expected and hence the exploration strategy. Production in delta depocenters (Niger) is in structures cut by or updip from major growth faults, and structures not associated with such faults are barren. Production in block fault basins is on horsts next to deep sedimentary troughs (Sirte, North Sea). In basins whose sediment thickness, structure and geologic history are known to a moderate degree, the main oil occurrences can be specifically predicted by analysis of fault systems and possible hydrocarbon migration routes. Use of the concept permits the identification of significant targets which have either been downgraded or ignored in the past, such as production in or just updip from thrust belts, stratigraphic traps over the deep basin associated with major faulting, production over the basin deep, and regional stratigraphic trapping updip from established production along major fault zones.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hot, deep origin of petroleum: deep basin evidence and application
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey,
69 leaves, 45 leaves of ill. :ill., maps ;28 cm.; (110 p. - PGS)