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Frontier Sedimentary Basins of the New Zealand Region

BEGGS, J. M., DSIR Geology & Geophysics, Lower Hutt, New Zealand

Petroleum-prospective basins of New Zealand began to form by mid-Cretaceous rifting of crustal elements previously assembled at the Gondwana continental margin. During the latest Cretaceous-early Cenozoic New Zealand separated from Australia and Antarctica by sea-floor spreading. An overall transgression is widely recorded in this post-rift phase, with decreasing clastic sediment supply as land area and relief were reduced. Mid-Cenozoic initiation of the modern plate boundary has resulted in uplift of mountain ranges, subsidence and filling of troughs, progradation of the shelf, and common reactivation or eversion of older structures.

Petroleum potential of less explored basins can be compared to the productive Taranaki basin. Source rocks are coal-rich deposits of the rift phase, also developed in Great South, Canterbury/Chatham, Western Southland, West Coast, and Northland basins. A different source contributes to oil and gas seeps on the East Coast, a continental margin during Late Cretaceous. The main reservoirs of Taranaki are early Cenozoic coastal and fluvial sands, also present in Great South, Canterbury, and West Coast and possibly other basins. Other Taranaki reservoirs include mid-Cenozoic limestone and Miocene turbidites, which are widespread in most other basins. Pliocene limestones have excellent reservoir potential on the East Coast.

Late Cenozoic tectonics, essential to trap development and significant for maturation in Taranaki, have created similar structures in basins near the plate boundary but are less significant in the development of Great South, eastern Canterbury/Chatham, and Northland basins.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91004 © 1991 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas, Texas, April 7-10, 1991 (2009)