Petroleum Generation in Geologically-Young Lacustrine Rift Basins: Integrated Stratigraphy, Experimental Geochemistry, and Basin Modeling

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Recent oil discoveries in Lake Albert (Uganda) have ignited exploration interest into the other Cenozoic rift basins of East Africa. Despite the excitement surrounding this frontier, much remains unknown about petroleum generation in geologically-young lacustrine rifts characterized by elevated heat flow. Lake Malawi, a deep lake comprised of linked half-grabens, represents a common end-member in the spectrum of continental rifts basins explorationists might encounter in the geologic record. Therefore we propose to investigate three critical but poorly-constrained aspects of petroleum generation from lacustrine source rocks using Lake Malawi as a natural laboratory. First, a sequence stratigraphic interpretation will be developed using scientific drill core from the notional source-kitchen of Lake Malawi. Stratigraphic data will resolve depositional history and place organic facies in the predictive framework of "lake basin type" (sensu Carroll and Bohacs, 1999). Second, dominant kerogen types will be identified geochemically, and closed-system pyrolysis experiments will be conducted in order to simulate maturation over a range of conditions. Insights on the kinetics of petroleum generation will be key for understanding the efficiency of Malawi-type analog petroleum systems, including the timing of reservoir formation, seal development, and the evolution of fluid migration pathways. Finally, stratigraphic and geochemical data will be integrated into a 1D Genesis ® model, to assess thermal history in the Malawi analog. The results of this research will be a new model for petroleum play element prediction in the lacustrine basins of active extensional provinces that promises to vastly improve subsurface exploration programs in this setting.
Effective start/end date9/1/148/31/17


  • American Chemical Society: $110,000.00


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