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LIVE WEBINAR – Magmatism in the Northern Carnarvon Basin, and some considerations for petroleum exploration

Tuesday, 25 August, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm (Australia/Perth time)

Free – $10.00

To view the event video and associated handouts (if any), please either log in to your active PESA membership account or enter the event password you received when you registered for this event.

Guest Speaker(s): Michael Curtis

Michael Curtis is the current holder of the PESA Horstman Federal Postgraduate Scholarship, which recognised his PhD research topic on the impact of magmatism on Carnarvon Basin petroleum systems as nationally significant.  Mike is studying at the Australian School of Petroleum and Energy Resources, at the University of Adelaide, and is beginning the final year of his doctorate.  At the time of writing, he has a paper in review on the preservation mechanisms of several volcanoes in the Exmouth Sub-Basin, and is currently working on a second paper reviewing petroleum exploration issues encountered while drilling through various igneous rock types in nine Carnarvon Basin wells.  The latter part of his research will focus on defining the temporal and spatial distribution of igneous intrusions across the Carnarvon basin, characterising intrusion morphologies, and systematically assessing their impact (both positive and negative) on each component of local petroleum systems.  This work is unique, as to date, there has been no unified study on the magmatic history of the basin taking advantage of the most modern 3D seismic reflection data.  Michael has presented part of his research at the AEGC conference last year, and has been invited to present at EAGE in Amsterdam later this year.

Prior to beginning his PhD, Michael worked with RISC Advisory in West Perth as a consultant geoscientist.  This gave him a thorough grounding in all aspects of petroleum geoscience.  He worked on projects all over Australia and South East Asia, and was involved in basin analyses, prospectivity studies, resource volume estimations and exploration portfolio valuations.

Outside of study, Michael sits on the South Australian State PESA Committee, is the Vice President of the AAPG Student Chapter at the University of Adelaide, and is actively involved in the Young Petroleum Professionals network in Adelaide.  Mike is a keen sailor, and also has a passion for cooking and then eating great food!

On completing his PhD (hopefully between September and December 2021), Michael will be keen to return to the Australian petroleum industry.

Kindly supported by Rock Flow dynamics


This live webinar will take place at:

11am         – Perth
12.30pm  – Adelaide and Darwin
1pm          – Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney

Use the calendar link on this page to add this event in to your own calendar at the correct local time for your location.

Tickets are free for members (please log in to see this) and $10 for non members.

Please buy your tickets and immediately follow the link in the ticket e-mail (not the calendar invite or this webpage, which is just generic and not event specific) to set up your registration with the webinar software well in advance of the time of the talk. Once registered with the webinar software you will receive a reminder e-mail 1 hr beforehand.



 Magmatism in the Northern Carnarvon Basin, and some considerations for petroleum exploration


Presented by Michael Curtis


Magmatism related to Jurassic rifting and Early Cretaceous breakup of Gondwana has played an important role in the tectonic evolution of the Northern Carnarvon Basin (NCB).  Crustal thinning and possible plume impingement beneath the Cuvier margin led to an elevated thermal regime through the late Jurassic which caused the emplacement of huge volumes of magma into the upper crust of the Exmouth Plateau and Exmouth Sub-Basin.  The presence of the igneous rocks resulting from this magmatic activity has implications for petroleum exploration and development in the region.


This project has used 3D seismic datasets to map intrusions across the NCB in unprecedented detail.  Intrusions are present in a range of morphologies: From individual, saucer shaped sills such as those in the Indian 3D survey, to huge interconnected, stacked complexes spanning 60+ km laterally in the Scarborough and Bonaventure 3D Surveys.  Occasionally, intrusions display magma pipes which terminate in lobate features which have been used to determine the direction of emplacement.  There are also several instances of thick intrusions ‘jacking up’ overlying sediments, creating 4-way dip closed fold structures.


The igneous system present in the NCB has been previously defined as a “Large Intrusive Igneous Province”.  No inboard extrusive activity had been identified, and it was thought that the mafic intrusions in the Exmouth region had not breached the surface due to relative buoyancy effects.  However, Tithonian rift-related volcanism has recently been recognised on 3D seismic reflection data in the Exmouth Sub-Basin.  Mt Aneto, adjacent to the Pyrenees oil and gas field, is a very well preserved volcano.  It is bisected and downthrown by extensional faults, and was covered by thick sediments of the Early Cretaceous Barrow Delta, protecting it from erosion by the regional Valanginian Unconformity (associated with final breakup of India from the Australian continent).  A chain of volcanoes at the western edge of the Exmouth Sub-Basin has also been revealed by intersection at Toro-1 and seismic interpretation as part of this study.  In contrast to Mt Aneto, the Toro volcanoes are eroded by the Valanginian Unconformity.


Typically, the ratio of intrusive to extrusive igneous rock in igneous provinces is between 5:1 and 10:1.  The volume of volcanism identified in the Exmouth region does not adequately account for the extent of the intrusive system, which possibly suggests that the ‘remaining’ volcanic complexes may have been completely removed by the breakup unconformity.


A post-mortem analysis of wells intersecting igneous rocks in the NCB has also been performed.  Intrusions in Yardie East-1 and Edel-1 have acted to mature source rocks and compartmentalise reservoirs.  In Palta-1, intrusions were missed by wellsite geologists entirely!  Low seismic velocities through the volcano at Toro-1 suggested overpressure, but were later found to be the result of alteration of the volcanics to clay.  Finally, ashfall deposits encountered by ODP 763, Stybarrow-2, Enfield-3 and Enfield-4 have been altered to smectite, a swelling clay, which can cause reservoir damage and potentially lead to difficulty in POOH if it becomes water saturated.




Tuesday, 25 August, 2020
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
(Australia/Perth time)
Free – $10.00
Event Categories:
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    The internet Australia

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