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Structure of the Zagros Fold and Thrust Belt in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Gines, Jorge 1; Oehlers, Mike 1; de Vera, Jose 2; McClay, Ken 2
1 Fugro NPA Limited, Edenbridge, Kent, United Kingdom.
2 Fault Dynamics Research Group, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Iraq holds oil reserves of approximately 115bn barrels, the third largest in the world. It is estimated that the Zagros fold and thrust belt in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq may contain up to 45bn barrels of oil. However, unlike its Iranian counterpart, the fold and thrust belt in the Kurdistan has received very limited geological attention in the past decades due to outstanding geopolitical problems. In addition, because of the scarcity of subsurface data, the structure of the area remains poorly constrained. The fold and thrust belt is dominated by a 10 to 12 km thick succession of Late Proterozoic to Present day strata. Most of the Mesozoic to Cenozoic succession is dominated by platform carbonates, with local presence of shales and evaporites. Important carbonate units include the Cretaceous Shinaresh and Qamchuqa Formations (reservoirs) and the Eoecene Pila Spi Formation. These stratigraphic units have been deformed into a series of NW-SE- to E-W-trending and SW- to NE-verging doubly-plunging folds and associated thrust faults. Regional structural styles, topography and the distribution of recent seismicity in the region suggest the structure of the fold belt is in part controlled by basement-involved structures. This study has used advanced remote sensing stratigraphic and structural mapping techniques, combined with cross section construction to document the regional structure of the fold and thrust belt. The cross sections have been built upon satellite information data, (e.g. dip angles, bedding thicknesses and stratigraphic/tectonic relationships) from SRTM and SPOT digital elevation models (DEM’s), Landsat ETM+ mosaics and SPOT scenes. Understanding the surface geology of the Kurdistan region is critical to constrain the presence of traps and regional seals in the subsurface.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90090©2009 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, June 7-10, 2009