--> Structure of the Alpine Foreland, Timothy B. Berge and Steve Veal, #10213 (2009)

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 PSStructure of the Alpine Foreland*


Timothy B. Berge1 and Steve Veal2


Search and Discovery Article #10213 (2009)

Posted October 30, 2009


*Adapted from poster presentation at AAPG Convention, Denver, Colorado, June 7-10, 2009


1Pangean Resources, Denver, CO  ([email protected])

2DCX Resources, Denver, CO




The foreland province of the Bavarian Alps was once, prior to the discovery of the Gronigen gas fields in northern Germany, Germany’s main oil and gas producing area. It has produced over 71 million barrels of oil (MMBO) and 718 billion cubic feet (BCF) of gas (Bachmann and Müller, 1991). The allocthonous and nonproductive Bavarian salient of the Alps is somewhat anomalous in that virtually all other thrust belt/foreland basin systems around the world have production from the thrust belt allocthon if the foreland is productive.


Recent reprocessing of seismic reflection profiles (including the TRANSALP profile) along the frontal zone of the Bavarian Alpine salient has led to a revised understanding of the basic structure of what has been referred to as the folded molasse zone and how the structure of that zone changes along strike. The folded molasse zone, as well as the north dipping foreland panel of the foreland molasse, is interpreted here to be deformed para-autochthonous rocks that form the roof elements of a triangle zone; a transitional structural zone between the European and Adriatic plates. This zone has now been well-imaged on numerous two-dimensional profiles allowing us to confidently map its extent from near Zurich east to Munich, a distance of about 250 km. It extends farther into Austria where it is productive. Previous and classical Alpine geology fails to recognize the true complexity and potential of this province.


These concepts have been tested by the Austrian company, OMV, who shot a 3D survey and drilled a discovery well near Kempten, Germany. The well drilled a deformed molasses section and came out in autochthonous subthrust rocks confirming our structural model. The well is a gas discovery, the first in the area in over 40 years and brings much-needed gas resources to the area.


Selected Figures




































































Figure 1. Exploring for Oil and Gas potential in the Alpine Foreland Basin in Bavaria, we hypothesized that HC System elements that were productive in the more distal foreland could be extended into structural traps to be found both in what had been called the Folded Molasse Zone and in the Alpine Allochthon itself.


Figure 2. The proposed tripartite zonation into Foreland, Transition, and Allochthon is a simplification and better structural zonation scheme than the archaic Molasse and Gefaltemolasse zones. The recognition of the Duplexed Triangle zone structure is important economically and is prospective for oil and gas in an area that can use it readily. Mapping to tack point is a true estimate of the Northern limit of Alpine Allochthon and we mark this point 20-30 km northward. We correlate the Helvetic Allochthon into Austria. We recognize and map important reservoir source rock and seal facies.




We would like to gratefully acknowledge the help and guidance of several of our colleagues including:


Olaf Lettau and Franz Nieberding, PREUSSAG Energie GmbH, Linden, Germany.


Helmut Gebrande and Ewald Leuschen, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Institut für Allgemeine und Angewandte Geophysik, Munchen, Germany.


Bernhard Krainer, Ulrich Herzog, and Herwig Peresson, OMV Exploration GmbH, Wien, Austria, and Dietrich Roeder, Murnau Geodynamics, Lakewood, Colorado.


Andy Elgerd and Jim Granath, Consultants, Denver, Colorado.


Jeff Aldrich and John McIntyre, Forest Oil International.




Bachmann, G.H. and M. Muller, 1991, The Molasse Basin, Germany; evolution of a classic petroliferous foreland basin: Special Publication of the European Association of Petroleum Geoscientists, v. 1, p. 263-276.


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