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Public domain satellite gravity inversion offshore Somalia combining layered-Earth and voxel based modellingGreen Open Access

Authors: Gaud Pouliquen, Gerry Connard, Hannah Kearns, Mohamed Gouiza and Douglas Paton
Journal name: First Break
Issue: Vol 35, No 9, September 2017 pp. 73 - 79
Special topic: EM/Potential Methods
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 744.05Kb )

At the end of 2016, Spectrum Geo released two long offset seismic reflection profiles across the Somalian rifted margin, in the Juba Lamu and Obbia basins respectively – part of two larger 2D surveys acquired in 2014 and 2015/16 (Stanca et al., 2016; Figure 1). In frontier areas, potential field data interpretation, in particular public domain satellite-derived gravity, can play a key role in the early stages of exploration by identifying basement structure, sediment thickness, and the continental-oceanic crust transition (COT) or continental-oceanic boundary (COB), and hence indirectly contribute to the understanding of thermal history and the hydrocarbon system. This is particularly relevant over the Somalia margin, where geophysical surveys have been extremely sparse until very recent years. A high-gradient in the gravity is often used as a marker of the COB along passive margins (see Pawlowski (2008) for a review), expressing laterally contrasting physical properties between the continental and oceanic crusts. However, at magma-poor rifted margins, such as the Somalia margin, the lithosphere undergoes a progressive thinning/stretching process and the transition between unaltered continental crust and oceanic crust becomes gradual (Manatschal, 2004). Crustal hyper-extension, serpentinization, embrittlement, and exhumation of mantle peridotites can precede accretion of true oceanic crust, which in turn can blur the simple transitional model between a dense and highly magnetized oceanic crust and a weakly magnetized and lighter continental crust. Along a magma-poor margin, analysis of potential field data can distinguish the different rifting domains and quantify crustal thinning (Stanton et al., 2016; Cowie et al., 2015). In offshore Kenya and Somalia, the image is further complicated by thick sedimentary cover.

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