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Reconstruction of a Norway-Iceland-Greenland Transect with Special Focus on Physical Processes

Daniel W. Schmid¹, Ebbe H. Hartz², Lars H. Ruepke¹, and Bjørn B. Martinsen²
¹GeoModelling Solutions, Zurich, Switzerland
²Det norske oljeselskap, Oslo, Norway

New possibilities in Iceland and Greenland spark interest in the exploration in the arctic. A natural strategy to explore these frontiers is to combine them with complementing regions that are better studied, in this case the Norwegian Sea. Here we present our work on a transect that is more than 1500 kilometers long and stretches from the Greenland continental margin in the West over the Jan Mayen microcontinent to the Norwegian margin in the East.

Multiple rifting events affected the evolution of this region. Inferred rifting phases include a Permian-Triassic stretching phase, a Jurassic to Early Cretaceous and a Cretaceous – Paleocene event that cumulated in breakup and opening of the North Atlantic. Breakup occurred first east of Jan Mayen in the early Eocene and led to the separation of Jan Mayen and Greenland from Norway. Spreading jumped to the west of Jan Mayen in the late Eocene-early Oligocene and Jan Mayen and Greenland drifted apart. In addition to extensional tectonics and oceanic spreading, a number of erosion and uplift events have affected the area. Jan Mayen was uplifted to or above sea level and heavily eroded at ~30Ma. Suggested causes of this uplift include interaction with the Iceland plume and/or magmatic underplating. Likewise, the Greenland margin has been uplifted. Possible causes for this uplift include flexural unloading and interaction with the Iceland plume. Anomalous subsidence patterns are also known from the Norwegian Sea, which raises questions regarding timing and lateral reach of the various processes.

All listed processes can influence the hydrocarbon potential of the region. In order to assess this we model the entire evolution of the long transect with TecMod. TecMod is a reconstruction tool that resolves simultaneously lithospheric as well as basin scale processes, thereby avoiding the inconsistencies that are introduced by splitting these domains. It is a finite element method based forward model combined with an optimization engine that seeks to provide an optimal fit to the present day data for given geological constraints. All physical processes are coupled and modeled self consistently, e.g. stretching leads to an actual extension of the model and to thinning of pre-existing structures. In this contribution we analyze how important the introduced improvements are with respect to the conventional backstripping approach. Furthermore, we provide a detailed scenario analysis where we go through the various hypotheses regarding, for example, uplift and assess their likelihood and consequences on possible hydrocarbon systems. We reconcile our findings with petroleum system data from Norway, Jan Mayen, as well as onshore Greenland.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #120098©2013 AAPG Hedberg Conference Petroleum Systems: Modeling the Past, Planning the Future, Nice, France, October 1-5, 2012