A 3D lithospheric-scale geological and thermal model for the Barents-Kara Sea region

3D Model of the Barents Sea (© Peter Klitzke)

The Barents Sea and Kara Sea region in the European Arctic is in the focus of an increasing number of economic and scientific explorations since decades due to its hydrocarbon potential. Although the coverage of geological and geophysical data is partially very dense, there are still large gaps in the knowledge of the present-day structure and the geological evolution of this area. The long tectonic history marked by Precambrian and Paleozoic orogenies, multiple episodes of rifting and young seafloor spreading, resulted in a complex present-day structural setting. While the western and northern parts bear characteristics of a passive margin, the largest part of the Barents and Kara Seas represent intracontinental basins. The varying basin geometries between the southwestern Barents Sea (narrow and fault-controlled rift basins) and the eastern Barents Sea (wide sag basin) indicate additionally different underlying formation mechanisms.

The aim of the project is to develop a data-based lithosphere-scale 3D-structural model by integrating borehole, interpreted seismic data as well as previously published 3D-models based on seismology. The model resolves the following surfaces: topography and seafloor, base Eocene, mid-Cretaceous, mid-Jurassic, intra-Permian, top crystalline basement, Moho and lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary. This 3D structural model, in turn, provides the base for geophysical simulations by assigning physical properties to each unit. Therefore we combine 3D isostatic and 3D gravity modelling to investigate the contributions of the sediments, the underlying crust and the lithospheric mantle to the gravitational field. Moreover, we examine the potential existence and distribution of high-density bodies in the crystalline crust. The gravity-constrained 3D model of the present state can then be additionally used to assess to calculate the present-day thermal field and assess the basin evolution.


Structural and Density Configuration of the Lithosphere of the greater Barents Sea/Kara Sea Region



Statoil Petroleum AS