AAPG Geoscience Technology Workshop

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Spatial Distribution of Miocene Diapirs in the Levant Basin – A Fundamental Element for Future Hydrocarbon Exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean


The Levant Basin became a focus of hydrocarbon exploration due to recent major gas discoveries, predominantly biogenic, offshore Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. The main discoveries are within Miocene structures in high-porosity turbidite sand complex. The deep section, though, remained largely unexplored. The Levant Basin is a remnant of the Neotethys that has been closed due to collision of the African and Eurasian plates since Late Mesozoic, which continues up to nowadays along the Cyprus Arc. The basin is assumed be underlain by a hyperextended Permo-Triassic continental crust, exceeding now a depth of about 15 km. In this scenario, and using a comprehensive 2D and 3D seismic database, we have reconstructed the Miocene structures in the basin, finding a set of sediment highs, possibly diapirs, which spread across the southern part of the basin. These structural highs might extend up to the eastern flank of the Eratosthenes Seamount and continue eastwards up to the Levant continental slope. We present, for the first time, a detailed mapping of the shape and position of the structural highs, discussing a possible origin and the tectonic processes that shaped these large, newly recognized structures of the Levant Basin. In the absence of drilling data, we postulate that weak and unconsolidated sediments, possibly of Triassic age, might have fed them. The origin and nature of these structures in the Levant Basin have a profound effect on the petroleum systems of the basin, because while up-building folds above the diapirs formed excellent traps in the Oligo-Miocene section, they might have pierced older traps. This suggestion has therefore diverse implications for the prospectivity of deep targets in the Levant Basin, because these structures might have created potential traps along their tops and deep flanks. This interpretation could therefore open new targets for future exploration in the Levant Basin.