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Tectonic Control on the Thermal Evolution of the Michigan Basin

Abstract

The Michigan basin, located on the Lower Michigan peninsular, represents a classic inter-cratonic basin. Its almost concentric shape outlined by several highs, and its sediment fill records the continuous, symmetric subsidence of the crust in an area that has been relatively inactive. Yet, the basin and its sediments were subject to far-field tectonic forces due to the long-lived and episodic Appalachian orogenic event. We present a 3D basin model that suggests that sediment distribution and thicknesses are not the controlling factor on the basin's thermal evolution. In particular, we illustrate that the thermal structure of the Michigan basin is largely controlled by the location of the southeastern arm of the Midcontinental rift, which underlies the basin and runs through its center in a NW-SE direction. Our basin model further supports previous findings suggesting that the paleotemperature gradient of the basin was significantly higher than present day measurements indicate. Our basin model uses publicly available bottom-hole temperatures and is calibrated to available maturity data. By integrating temperatures, sediment deposition and sediment removal without a detailed lithology analysis, we are able to accurately predict the maturity distribution in the basin, yet are flexible enough to rapidely generate the model results. This allows us to use the model as a screening tool to identify prospective areas and determine fluid type of the hydrocarbon system.