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Analysis of an Unsuccessful Petroleum System formed in the Iberian Rift (Cameros Basin, N of Spain): What We Can Learn from a Paleo-Play?


In the last decades large attention has been paid on the petroleum systems developing in rift basins, as they represent a third of the global hydrocarbon resources. In fact, in the rift basin, the general slow tectonic activity and the high to medium subsidence rates allow accumulation of thick sedimentary succession and favorable conditions for organic matter accumulation and preservation. High burial rates and the setting of high heat flow due to lithosphere stretching during the rift, favorite source rock maturation.

During the Mesozoic several rift basins formed in the Iberian plate, due to the opening of the Western Tethys and North Atlantic domains (Mesozoic Iberian Rift System). In some of these basins favorable conditions allow the formation and activation of petroleum systems. Unfortunately only few commercial oil fields were found.

Herein with a multidisciplinary approach (organic petrology, geochemistry and 2D basin thermal modeling) the elements and the processes of the petroleum system of the westernmost Mesozoic Iberian Rift basin, the Cameros Basin, are reconstructed.

The potential source rocks of the petroleum system are suggested, on the base of organic petrology and geochemistry data. Timing of source rocks thermal maturation, hydrocarbons expulsion, traps formation and accumulation are reconstructed by thermal modeling (Fig.1). Therefore, hypothesis on the possible failure causes of this petroleum system are determined.

In addition to contribute the understanding of the conditions and mechanisms which determine the activation of petroleum systems in the Mediterranean Alpine Tethys region, this work improves the knowledge of the causes which determine a successful or unsuccessful evolution of a petroleum system in a rift setting.