Determining plays by tectonic setting from structure, source, and reservoir perspectives

We identify regions with the correct tectonic setting by using the following data sources:

  • Published geological studies
  • Plate reconstructions and motions
  • Tectonic maps
  • Paleomagnetic data
  • Landsat Thematic images

Once regions with the appropriate tectonic setting are identified, we determine if these areas have the appropriate components to satisfy the requirements established for the play concept.

Once you have identified a prospective tectonic setting, we can suggest where to focus exploration within that setting. This is done most effectively by defining the boundaries and internal structural character of the different structural domains within the tectonic setting.

Examples of issues of structure and tectonics which might be addressed include the following:

  • Kinematics (e.g., oblique vs. orthogonal convergence)
  • Significant changes in kinematics with time (e.g., episodic vs. continuous tectonic events)
  • Duration of tectonism
  • Major tectonostratigraphic terranes
  • Igneous and metamorphic activity

We then examine more closely those regions that meet the play concept criteria to determine if specific structural domains exist within the tectonic setting where we can recommend that you pursue the structural play concept.

A structural domain is a distinct region or subregion with similar structural properties.

Among different tectonic settings, the number and complexity of the structural domains can vary significantly. For example, the number and character of the structural domains defined in a basin forming in the cratonic interior in a relatively quiet but long-lived tectonic setting contrast significantly to those defined in a short-lived but intense rifting event.

Once the structural domain is defined, we assess its potential to satisfy the play concept criteria centered around structural style:

  • Fold styles
  • Fault-fold relationships
  • Fault spacing and interaction
  • Fault scaling
  • Shortening-uplift ratios

Characterizing the structural domains lets us look at specific domains relative to the hydrocarbon system and thereby identify prospective structural fairways.

Within a particular tectonic setting, a significant number of markedly different domains may exist. Our ability to define the domains depends on the data available and the scale of observation. The following data sources can help define the boundaries and describe the internal complexity of structural domains

  • Potential fields
  • Satellite imagery and/or aerial photography
  • Regional surface and subsurface geologic data
  • Exploration seismic data
  • Deep crustal seismic data
  • Reconnaissance outcrop studies