Tectonics, structural geology, and basin analysis disciplines are key to understanding petroleum provinces on rift margins

Recent discovery of deep-water pre-salt reservoirs in the South Atlantic salt basins has raised some academic and industry interest in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden sedimentary basins as analogues for the early evolution of the continental rift margins. 

Analysis of such petroleum exploration plays involves evaluation of rift margins architecture and salt tectonics development through time. 

Eslan Labs provides integrated gravity, magnetics and structural interpretations providing constraints on the development of rift margins.

We provide analysis and interpretations of:

Major questions of origin remain concerning the evolution of passive continental rift margins worldwide because thick sequences of sea-ward-dipping volcanic strata that erupted during rifting typically bury the outer syn-rift structures, masking structures in the critical continent-ocean transition zone.

The architecture of rift margins and the rift margin basinal fill are influenced by the displacement geometry on the bounding normal fault systems.

The northern Red Sea rift margin hosts a classic triple junction formed by narrow continental shelves dissected by active faults, rimmed by a series of terraces and centered along a magnetic  axial depression.

Red Sea Rift Margins Report

The Red Sea rift margin is one of the largest salt basins in the world, comparable in size with the South Atlantic salt basins offshore Brazil and West Africa, and much larger than the salt basins in the Central Atlantic (North America – NW Africa margins).

The Red Sea rift margin is a natural laboratory for continental breakup processes at an embryonic stage of the Wilson cycle. Since the development of early plate tectonic concepts, this rift margin region has been considered as a paradigm for the evolution of continental rift margin basins that evolved into incipient divergent margins.

The Sinai Peninsula and north Red Sea has been shaped by major tectonic events  including: (1) the Mesozoic to Early Cenozoic tectonically active opening of Tethys, (2) the Late Cretaceous to Early Tertiary (Laramide) Syrian arc system, due to closing of the Tethys (3) the Oligo-Miocene Gulf of Suez rift margin basin, and (4) the Late Miocene to Recent  Dead Sea-Gulf of Aqaba rift margin.

This rift margin region has significant hydrocarbon potential because source carbonate rocks of early and middle Miocene are sufficiently mature to generate hydrocarbons. Sediments of prerift (pre-Miocene) and synrift (Miocene and post-Miocene) sequences, occur on both sides of the Red Sea.

Eslan Labs’s Red Sea Margins Briefing report provides integrated gravity, magnetics and structural interpretations for the northern Red Sea rift margin.

This provides constraints on the development of a complex kinematic model of the northern Red Sea rift margin:

  • Evolution of the Red Sea rift margin controlled by reactivation of Precambrian to Pan-African (ca. 600 Ma) basement fractures
  • Oblique rift margin fragmentation of the rift zone into segments separated by oblique-slip accommodation within reactivated
  • Hydrocarbon traps associated with sinuous extensional rift margin half-grabens, opening along the minimum stress trajectory