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Abstract: Ogaden Basin Subsidence History: Another Key to the Red Sea-Gulf of Aden Tectonic Puzzle

John D. Pigott, Douglas Neese, Carsten Geiger

Previous work has attempted to understand the tectonic evolution of the Red Sea-Gulf of Aden region through a focus upon plate kinematics and reconstruction of plate interactions in a two dimensional sense. A significant complement to the three dimensional puzzle can be derived from a critical examination of the vertical component, tectonic subsidence analysis.

By removing the isostatic contributions of sediment loading and unloading, and fluctuations in sea level, the remaining thermal-mechanical contribution to a basin's subsidence can be determined. Such in analysis of several Ogaden basin wells reveals multiple pulses of tectonic subsidence and uplift which correspond to far-field tectonic activities in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. One of the more dramatic is a Jurassic tectonic pulse circa 145-130 m.a., and a later extensional event which correlates to a major subsidence event ubiquitous through-out the Gulf of Aden, related to Gondwana Land breakup activities. Tectonic uplift during the Tertiary coincides with early Red Sea rifting episodes. Such activities suggest the Ogaden basin has been a relatively stable East African cratonic ba in, but with heating-extension events related to nearby plate interactions.

In terms of hydrocarbon generation, the use of steady state present day geothermal gradients, couples with subsidence analysis shows that potential Paleozoic and Mesozoic source rocks initiated generation as early as the Jurassic. The generating potential of Paleozoic source rocks would only be exacerbated by later heating events. Furthermore, cooling and tectonic uplift during the Tertiary would tend to arrest on-going hydrocarbon generation for Jurassic source rocks in the Ogaden area.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90956©1995 AAPG International Convention and Exposition Meeting, Nice, France