Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1354-0793
  • E-ISSN:


Interpretation of a 3D seismic survey located on the western margin of the Northern North Sea Basin demonstrates how the propagation, overlap and linkage of two north–south-striking, en echelon normal fault segments exerted a powerful influence over prospective subtle stratigraphic traps. The relay ramp that formed between the segments appears to have focused sediment dispersal, controlled reservoir distribution and aided post-depositional petroleum migration. Integration of electrical well log data, root-mean-square (RMS)-amplitude analysis and biostratigraphy with seismic interpretation demonstrates that a series of elongate, linear, sand-prone (reservoir) channel complexes characterize the depositional slopes generated by fault growth. The combination of synsedimentary rotation of bedding due to fault propagation and associated footwall uplift led to erosion and truncation of a laterally extensive, older channelized system (Lower Sequence), the downdip parts of which extend beyond the relay ramp. Its subsequent drape by transgressive shales created the subtle stratigraphic trap that now hosts the Cladhan Field, with charge occurring because the sandstones belonging to the Lower Sequence extend as far as the active kitchen in the neighbouring (hanging-wall) depocentre situated downdip and to the east. In contrast, the exploration of a younger, Upper Sequence of sandstones has proven to be disappointing due to their more restricted distribution, lack of access to charge, and occurrence of faults that offset and breach the thin end of the stratigraphic wedge. The implication is that partially breached relay ramps not only provide a preferential site for syn-rift clastic reservoirs to develop but also form important migration pathways through which oil passed from a petroleum kitchen into a trap.

This article is part of the Under-explored plays and frontier basins of the UK continental shelf collection available at: http://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/under-explored-plays-and-frontier-basins-of-the-uk-continental-shelf


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Brown, A.R.
    2004. Interpretation of Three-Dimensional Seismic Data. 6th edn. Society of Exploration Geophysicists Investigation in Geophysics, 9/AAPG Memoirs, 42.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Burley, S.D.
    1993. Models of burial diagenesis for deep exploration plays in Jurassic fault traps of the Central and Northern North Sea. Geological Society, London, Petroleum Geology Conference Series , 4, 1353–1375, https://doi.org/10.1144/0041353
  3. Cornford, C.
    1998. Source rocks and hydrocarbons of the North Sea. In: Glennie, K.W. (ed.) Petroleum Geology of the North Sea. 4th edn. Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK, 376–462.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Dawers, N.H.
    and Underhill, J.R. 2000. The role of fault interaction and linkage in controlling syn-rift stratigraphic sequences: Late Jurassiv Statfjord East area, Northern North Sea. AAPG Bulletin, 84, 45–64, https://doi.org/10.1306/C9EBCD5B-1735-11D7-8645000102C1865D
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Dawers, N.H., Berge, A.M., Häger, K.O., Puigdefabregas, C.
    and Underhill, J.R. 2000. Controls on Late Jurassic, subtle sand distribution in the Tampen Spur area, Northern North Sea. Geological Society, London, Petroleum Geology Conference Series , 5, 827–838, https://doi.org/10.1144/0050827
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Doré, A.G.
    and Robbins, J. 2005. The Buzzard Field. Geological Society, London, Petroleum Geology Conference Series , 6, 241–252, https://doi.org/10.1144/0060241
  7. Færseth, R.B.
    1996. Interaction of Permo-Triassic and Jurassic extensional fault blocks during the development of the northern North Sea. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 153, 931–944, https://doi.org/10.1144/gsjgs.153.6.0931
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Fraser, S.I., Robinson, A.M. et al.
    2003. Upper Jurassic. In: Evans, D. and Graham, C.G. (eds) The Millennium Atlas: Petroleum Geology of the Central and Northern North Sea. Geological Society, London, 157–189.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Gawthorpe, R.L.
    and Hurst, J.M. 1993. Transfer zones in extensional basins: their structural style and influence on drainage development and stratigraphy. Journal of Geological Society, London, 150, 1137–1152, https://doi.org/10.1144/gsjgs.150.6.1137
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Gawthorpe, R.L., Sharp, I.R., Underhill, J.R. and Gupta, S.
    1997. Linked sequence stratigraphic and structural evolution of propagating normal faults. Geology, 25, 795–798, https://doi.org/10.1130/0091-7613(1997)025<0795:LSSASE>2.3.CO;2
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Gawthorpe, R.L.
    and Leeder, M.R. 2000. Tectono-sedimentary evolution of active extensional basins. Basin Research, 12, 195–218, https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2117.2000.00121.x
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Glennie, K.W.
    and Underhill, J.R. 1998. The development and evolution of structural styles in the North Sea. In: Glennie, K. (ed.) Introduction to the Petroleum Geology of the North Sea. Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK, 42–84.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Gupta, S., Underhill, J.R., Sharp, I.R.
    and Gawthorpe, R.L. 1999. Role of fault interactions in controlling synrift sediment dispersal patterns: Miocene, Abu Alaqa Group, Suez Rift, Sinai, Egypt. Basin Research, 11, 167–189, https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2117.1999.00300.x
    [Google Scholar]
  14. John, C.R.
    and Andrews, I.J. 1985. The petroleum geology of the Unst Basin. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 2, 361–372, https://doi.org/10.1016/0264-8172(85)90031-5
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Kubala, M., Bastow, M., Thompson, S., Scotchman, I. and Øygard, K.
    2003. Geothermal regime, petroleum generation and migration. In: Evans, D., Graham, C., Armour, A. and Bathurst, P. (eds) The Millenium Atlas: Petroleum Geology of the Central and Northern North sea. Geological Society, London, 285–315, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0016756803218124
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Larsen, P.H.
    1978. Relay structures in a Lower Permian basement-involved extensional system, East Greenland. Journal of Structural Geology, 10, 3–8, https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8141(88)90122-8
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Leeder, M.R.
    and Gawthorpe, R.L. 1987. Sedimentary models for extensional tilt-block/half-graben basins. Geological Society, London, Special Publications , 28, 139–152, https://doi.org/10.1144/GSL.SP.1987.028.01.11
  18. McLeod, A.E., Dawers, N.H.
    and Underhill, J.R. 2000. The propagation and linkage of normal faults: Insights from the Strathspey–Brent–Statfjord fault array, northern North Sea. Basin Research, 12, 263–284, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2117.2000.00124.x
    [Google Scholar]
  19. McLeod, A.E., Underhill, J.R., Davies, S.J.
    and Dawers, N.H. 2002. The influence of fault array evolution on syn-rift sedimentation patterns: Controls on deposition in the Strathspey–Brent–Statfjord half graben, Northern North Sea. AAPG Bulletin, 86, 1061–1093, https://doi.org/10.1306/61EEDC24-173E-11D7-8645000102C1865D
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Partington, M.A., Copestake, P., Mitchener, B.C.
    and Underhill, J.R. 1993. Biostratigraphic calibration of genetic stratigraphic sequences in the Jurassic–lowermost Cretaceous (Hettangian to Ryazanian) of the North Sea and adjacent areas. Geological Society, London, Petroleum Geology Conference Series , 4, 371–386, https://doi.org/10.1144/0040371
  21. Peacock, D.C.P.
    and Sanderson, D.J. 1994. Geometry and development of relay ramps in normal fault systems. AAPG Bulletin, 78, 147–165.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Platt, N.H.
    and Cartwright, J.A. 1998. Structure of the East Shetland Platform, northern North Sea. Petroleum Geoscience, 4, 353–362, https://doi.org/10.1144/petgeo.4.4.353
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Rattey, R.P.
    and Hayward, A.B. 1993. Sequence stratigraphy of a failed rift system: the Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous basin evolution of the Central and Northern North Sea. Geological Society, London, Petroleum Geology Conference Series , 4, 215–249, https://doi.org/10.1144/0040215
  24. Ray, F.M., Pinnock, S.J., Katamish, H.
    and Turnbull, J.B. 2010. The Buzzard Field: anatomy of the reservoir from appraisal to production. Geological Society, London, Petroleum Geology Conference Series , 7, 369–386, https://doi.org/10.1144/0070369
  25. Richards, P.C., Lott, G.K., Johnson, H.D., Knox, RWO'B
    and Riding, J.B. 1993. 3. Jurassic of the Central and Northern North Sea. In: Knox, RWO'B and Cordey, W.G. (eds) Lithostratigraphic Nomenclature of the UK North Sea. British Geological Survey, Nottingham, UK.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Simm, R.
    and Bacon, M. 2014. Amplitude and AVO interpretation. In: Seismic Amplitude: An Interpreter's Handbook. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 125–148, https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511984501.008
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Surlyk, F.
    1987. Slope and Deep Shelf Gully Sandstones, Upper Jurassic, East Greenland. AAPG Bulletin, 71, 464–475.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Tomasso, M., Underhill, J.R., Hodgkinson, R.A.
    and Young, M.J. 2008. Structural styles and depositional architecture in the Triassic of the Ninian and Alwyn North fields: Implications for basin development and prospectivity in the Northern North Sea. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 25, 588–605, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2007.11.007
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Underhill, J.R.
    1998. Jurassic. In: Glennie, K. (ed.) Introduction to the Petroleum Geology of the North Sea. Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK, 245–293.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. 2003. Thetectonic and stratigraphic framework of the United Kingdom's oil and gas fields. Geological Society, London, Memoirs , 20, 17–59, https://doi.org/10.1144/GSL.MEM.2003.020.01.04
    [Google Scholar]
  31. and Partington, M.A. 1993. Jurassic thermal doming and deflation in the North Sea: implications of the sequence stratigraphic evidence. Geological Society, London, Petroleum Geology Conference Series , 4, 337–345, https://doi.org/10.1144/0040337
  32. and Partington, M.A. 1994. Use of maximum flooding surfaces in determining a regional tectonic control on the intra-Aalenian (‘Mid Cimmerian’) sequence boundary: Implications for North Sea basin development and Exxon's sea-level chart. AAPG Memoirs , 58, 449–484.
  33. Yielding, G., Freeman, B.
    and Needham, T. 1997. Quantitative fault seal prediction. AAPG Bulletin, 81, 897–917.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Yielding, G., Michie, E., Bretan, P.
    and Fisher, Q. 2016. Workflows for fault seal prediction in siliciclastics and carbonates. Search and Discovery Article #41821 presented atAAPG/EAGE Hydrocarbon Seals of the Middle East, January 18–20, 2016, Muscat, Oman.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error