Structural Geology for Petroleum Geologists

By William L. Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
REGIONAL STRUCTURES

Regional structures are clearly of great importance in determining the locations and characteristics of oil and gas fields. Some regional structures consist of great domes with very large closure. However, with a few exceptions, oil and gas fields do not occur on purely structural traps of this size. Generally oil and gas fields related to regional structures are located on local anticlines on the regional uplifts, or on stratigraphic- structural traps on their flanks. Regional structures are also important because they control the direction of the regional dip and the thickness of sediments remaining after erosion. Regional structures which were in the process of formation during the deposition of the sedimentary section have a marked effect on the character of the sediments, and this in turn may control the location of the oil and gas fields.


DEFINITION

The basis for distinguishing between regional structures and local structures is primarily size. No definite size limit has been agreed on to separate the regional and local structures. However, in general a structural feature 10 miles in length would be considered local and one 100 miles in length regional. In a number of cases regional and local structures differ in characteristics other than size. This is true, for example, of geosynclines and geanticlines as compared with synclines and anticlines.


GEOSYNCLINES

Definition and Terminology. Geologists are not in agreement as to what constitutes a geosyncline; there is, however, agreement as to some of its characteristics. In the first place, geosynclines are of great size. All are over 100 miles long, and some are several thousand miles in length. Their width is generally at least 100 miles, and may be more than 500 miles. The maximum thickness of sediments in a geosyncline is at least a mile, and is commonly 2 to 10 miles. Another characteristic of geosynclines is that they subsided during the deposition of the sediments filling them. Before geosynclines were affected by later deformation, the strata in them dipped, in general, toward the area of maximum deposition and subsidence. The structure of geosynclines was therefore originally

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