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Thermal Evolution of Laramide-Style Basins: Constraints from the Northern Bighorn Basin, Wyoming and Montana

  • E. Sven Hagen
  • Ronald C. Surdam

Abstract

The Laramide-style basins of the central Rocky Mountain region are deep asymmetric structural depressions containing thick sequences of Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary strata. The combined effects of tectonics and sedimentation have contributed to the thermal evolution of the basins and to the maturation history of Cretaceous hydrocarbon source rocks.

Thermal parameters, from Cretaceous rocks and oil well temperature data, provide the primary thermal constraints for the proposed two-dimensional, finite-difference, numerical model. Input parameters for the numerical model include the geometry of the basin, thermal conductivity, heat flow, and a constant surface temperature. By integrating this model with time-temperature reconstructions, the temperature histories for Cretaceous source rocks can be determined. The Bighorn basin reached maximum diagenetic temperatures in Early Miocene time (≈20 Ma) prior to regional epeirogenic uplift and erosion of the basin to its present geomorphic form. Within the center or asymmetric portion of the basin, average thermal conductivities for the overburden above the Mowry Formation are higher, resulting in lower geothermal gradients (≈25°C/km). Along the basin margin, average thermal conductivities are lower resulting in higher geothermal gradients (≈32°C/km).

Ultimately, integrating basin-specific time-temperature histories with a kinetic geochemical model will allow the determination of the areal extent and timing of oil and gas generation in a particular hydrocarbon source rock, as well as potential migration pathways and hydrocarbon traps throughout the geological history of the basin.

Keywords

Source Rock Temperature History Geothermal Gradient Thermal Evolution Basin Center 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Sven Hagen
  • Ronald C. Surdam

There are no affiliations available

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