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Compensated Geothermal Gradient: New Map of Old Data

M. W. Ibrahim

Bottom-hole temperature measurement is one of the oldest forms of downhole information acquired by the oil industry. Old and new geothermal maps that are based on these measurements have invariably been drawn with an assumed constant or average ground surface temperature over the mapped areas. However, near ground-surface equilibrium temperature is a variable rather than a constant over any region; therefore, old and current geothermal gradient mapping methods give a false impression of the true thermal level of subsurface strata, and may lead to erroneous results of temperature-based calculations, such as the TTI.

In this paper, a geothermal mapping method is presented in which extrapolated surface temperature is coupled with the corresponding geothermal gradient over the mapped area. The method was tested on areas in the Middle East and Africa. Results indicate that it is especially effective in delineating loci of vertical geothermal heat flux carried upwards by ascending subsurface fluids; such areas are preferential sites for hydrocarbon entrapment, especially in young sedimentary basins where migration is still in progress.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91043©1986 AAPG Annual Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-18, 1986.