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https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-33
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-33
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  30 Mar 2020

30 Mar 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal SE and is expected to appear here in due course.

Inversion tectonics: a brief petroleum industry perspective

Gábor Tari1, Didier Arbouille2, Zsolt Schléder1, and Tamás Tóth3 Gábor Tari et al.
  • 1OMV Upstream, Exploration, 1020 Vienna, Austria
  • 2IHS Markit, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 3GeoMega Ltd, Budapest, Hungary

Abstract. The concept of structural inversion was introduced in the early 1980s. By definition, an inversion structure forms when a pre-existing extensional (or transtensional) fault controlling a hangingwall basin containing a syn-rift or passive fill sequence subsequently undergoes compression (or transpression) producing partial (or total) extrusion of the basin fill. Inverted structures provide traps for petroleum exploration, typically four-way structural closures. As to the degree of inversion, based on large number of worldwide examples seen in various basins, the most preferred petroleum exploration targets are mild to moderate inversional structures, defined by the location of the null-points. In these instances, the closures have a relatively small vertical amplitude, but simple in a map-view sense and well imaged on seismic reflection data. Also, the closures typically cluster above the extensional depocentres which tend to contain source rocks providing petroleum charge during and after the inversion. Cases for strong or total inversion are generally not that common and typically are not considered as ideal exploration prospects, mostly due to breaching and seismic imaging challenges associated with the trap(s) formed early on in the process of inversion. Also, migration may become tortuous due to the structural complexity or the source rock units may be uplifted above the hydrocarbon generation window effectively terminating the charge once the inversion occurred.

For any particular structure the evidence for inversion is typically provided by subsurface data sets such as reflection seismic and well data. However, in many cases the deeper segments of the structure are either poorly imaged by the seismic data and/or have not been penetrated by exploration wells. In these cases the interpretation of any given structure in terms of inversion has to rely on the regional understanding of the basin evolution with evidence for an early phase of substantial crustal extension by normal faulting.

Gábor Tari et al.

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Gábor Tari et al.

Gábor Tari et al.

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Latest update: 20 Sep 2020
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Short summary
Inversion tectonics has been studied in details by both academic researchers and the industry experts around the world for the last 30 years. Inverted structures provide important traps for petroleum exploration, typically four-way structural closures. This paper attempts to provide a brief synoptic view of inversion tectonics from the point of view of the petroleum industry emphasizing the main subsurface challenges of understanding of this structural geology phenomenon.
Inversion tectonics has been studied in details by both academic researchers and the industry...
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