Several multichannel, common depth point (CDP) seismic reflection profiles concentrated in the area of the entrance to Delaware Bay provide a tie between the known onshore geology of the Coastal Plain of Delaware and the offshore geology of the Baltimore Canyon Trough. The data provide a basis for understanding the geologic framework and petroleum resource potential of the area immediately offshore Delaware. Our research has focused on buried early Mesozoic rift basins and their geologic history. Assuming that the buried basins are analogous to the exposed Newark Supergroup basins of Late Triassic-Early Jurassic age, the most likely possibility for occurrence of hydrocarbon source beds in the area of the landward margin of the Baltimore Canyon Trough is presumed to be lacustrine, organic-rich shales probably present in the basins. Although buried basins mapped offshore Delaware are within reach of drilling, no holes have been drilled to date; therefore, direct knowledge of source, reservoir, and sealing beds is absent. Buried rift basins offshore Delaware show axial trends ranging from NW-SE to NNE-SSW. Seismic reflection profiles are too widely spaced to delineate basin boundaries accurately. Isopleths of two-way travel time representing basin fill suggest that, structurally, the basins are grabens and half-grabens. As shown on seismic reflection profiles, bounding faults of the basins intersect or merge with low-angle fault surfaces that cut the pre-Mesozoic basement. The rift basins appear to have formed by Mesozoic extension that resulted in reverse motion on reactivated basement thrust faults that originated from compressional tectonics during the Paleozoic. Computer-plotted structure contour maps derived from analysis of seismic reflection profiles provide information on the burial history of the rift basins. The postrift unconformity bevels the rift basins and, in the offshore area mapped, ranges from 2000 to 12,000 m below present sea level. The oldest postrift sediments that cover the more deeply buried rift basins are estimated to be of Middle Jurassic age (Bajocian-Bathonian), the probable time of opening of the Atlantic Ocean basin and onset of continental drift about 175-180 m.y. ago. By late Oxfordian-early Kimmeridgian time, the less deeply buried basins nearshore Delaware had been covered. A time-temperature index of maturity plot of one of the basins indicates that only dry gas would be present in reservoirs in synrift rocks buried by more than 6000 m of postrift sediments and in the oldest (Bathonian?-Callovian?) postrift rocks. Less deeply buried synrift rocks landward of the basin modeled might still be within the oil generation window. ?? 1989.
Additional publication details
Geologic framework of the offshore region adjacent to Delaware