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Abstract: The Hydrocarbon Habitat of Northern South America: Colombia-Venezuela-Trinidad

Keith H. James

A prolific hydrocarbon province extends across the northern margin of South America from Colombia to east of Trinidad. Two key components are a world-class source rock, formed on a regional Late Cretaceous passive margin, and a complex tectonic setting in which a variety of structural and stratigraphic traps, reservoirs, seals and hydrocarbon kitchens have evolved through time. Convergence between the Farallon and Caribbean plates with South America culminated in the late Cretaceous-early Palaeogene with emplacement of Colombia's Central Cordillera in the west and a nappe-foreland basin system in the north. Regional hydrocarbon generation probably occurred below associated basins. Subsequent oblique convergence between the Caribbean and South America, partitioned into str ke-slip and compressional strain, generated an eastward migrating and ongoing uplift-foredeep (kitchen) system from central Venezuela to Trinidad. Similarly, oblique interaction of western Colombia with the Nazca Plate caused segmentation of the earlier orogen, northward extrusion of elements such as the Maracaibo Block, and eastward migration of uplift progressively dividing earlier kitchens into localized foredeeps.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90951©1996 AAPG International Conference and Exhibition, Caracas, Venezuela