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Journal Article

Geological risk characterization of traps and migration pathways for gas in an inverted salt basin


Schoenherr,  Johannes
External Organizations;


Lüders,  Volker
3.2 Organic Geochemistry, 3.0 Geochemistry, Departments, GFZ Publication Database, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;

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Schoenherr, J., Lüders, V. (2022): Geological risk characterization of traps and migration pathways for gas in an inverted salt basin. - Marine and Petroleum Geology, 140, 105641.

Cite as: https://gfzpublic.gfz-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_5012099
Inversion of the Lower Saxony Basin produced large-scale broad antiforms, hosting Germany's largest gas accumulations in stacked Permian and Triassic reservoir systems. Locally, however, several exploration and production wells failed in the upper Permian Zechstein-2-Carbonte (Ca2) due to missing reservoir (hiatus) or formation-water wet conditions despite of drilling the topmost position of the trap structure. Seismic interpretation indicates lateral shear of the structural topmost Ca2 reservoir by oblique inversion-related collision with the overlying rigid sandstone unit of the Triassic Bunter Formation (Fm.), triggering a halokinetic redistribution of Permian Zechstein (Z2-Z4) salt in between. Lateral shear was enabled along a thin Zechstein (Z1) salt decollement, underlying the Ca2 reservoir. This ultimately led to a full detachment of large intra-salt Ca2 allochthonous gas reservoirs (‘stringers’), leaving behind areas of Ca2 autochthonous absence (‘bald highs’). These kinematics triggered hydraulic connection and gas leakage from both, the ‘bald high’ margins of the autochthonous Ca2 and the Ca2 ‘stringers’ into the sandstone reservoir of the Bunter Fm. Methane-rich fluid inclusions in sub-horizontal tectonic veins and from within vertical stylolites sampled from cores of wells, which tested the Ca2 reservoir to be formation water-wet, proof gas leakage as a result of inversion. Identification criteria for gas leakage and reservoir presence have been established from this study to frame geological subsurface scenarios for pre-drill risk assessments of inverted settings. The generalized conclusion from this study is that the topmost position of structural highs in inverted salt basins may be actually exposed to the highest geological risk.