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Evolution of Los Angeles Basin: Formation of Major Hydrocarbon Basin

Kevin T. Biddle, David W. Phelps

The Los Angeles basin is, for its size, one of the richest hydrocarbon-producing basins in the world with estimated ultimate reserves of 8631 million BOE. The formation of the Los Angeles basin and its evolution as a major hydrocarbon-producing basin are clearly tied to the evolution of the Pacific-North American plate boundary, but the kinematics of basin formation have remained somewhat unclear because of the complexity of later deformation. The timing of subsidence events in the basin and the association with strike-slip deformation are now well known. The interplay of strike-slip deformation and rapid subsidence have controlled, to a large extent, the development of the Los Angeles basin as a major hydrocarbon-producing basin. However, other basins in southern Califor ia with a similar geologic history are not productive or produce only minor amounts of hydrocarbons. To more fully understand the development of the Los Angeles basin, new concepts and data need to be incorporated in our picture of the basin's evolution. Specifically, the earlier Tertiary terrane history of southern California, rotations documented by paleomagnetic data, and modern strain data add information that refine our understanding of this economically important basin. We review this data and provide an updated evolution for the basin.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.