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AAPG Bulletin


(Begin page 989)

AAPG Bulletin, V. 85, No. 6 (June 2001), P. 989-1006.

Copyright ©2001. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Permian-Carboniferous tectono-stratigraphic evolution and petroleum potential of the northern Canning basin, Western Australia

Nicholas Eyles,1 Carolyn H. Eyles,2 S. Neil Apak,3 Greg M. Carlsen4

1Environmental Earth Sciences, University of Toronto at Scarborough, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, M1C 1A4; email: [email protected]
2Geography and Geology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8S 4K1
3Department of Minerals and Energy, 100 Plain Street, East Perth, Western Australia, 6004
4Department of Minerals and Energy, 100 Plain Street, East Perth, Western Australia, 6004


Nick Eyles is professor of geology at the University of Toronto, Canada. He gained a first class honors B.Sc. degree at the University of Leicester, Great Britain, and holds an M.Sc. degree and Ph.D. from Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of East Anglia, Great Britain, respectively. He has published more than 100 journal publications on modern, Pleistocene, and pre-Pleistocene glacial depositional systems and glaciated basins. He was awarded a D.Sc. degree by the University of Leicester in 1991.

Carolyn Eyles is professor of geology and geography at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. She gained a B.Sc. degree at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain and an M.Sc. degree and Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. She has worked on the sedimentology of glacially influenced basin infills, ranging in age from Neoproterozoic to modern, in Alaska, Norway, Great Britain, Brazil, Canada, and Australia.

Neil Apak holds two M.Sc. degrees in petroleum geology, from the University of Istanbul and Western Michigan University in the United States. He gained a Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of Adelaide with a thesis on the tectonic evolution of the Cooper Basin. He is employed by the Geological Survey of Western Australia as a basin analyst to evaluate hydrocarbon prospectivity in such Western Australian basins as the Canning and Officer basins. His key interests are sequence stratigraphy, the genesis of siliciclastics and carbonate deposits, and basin development.

Greg Carlsen gained a B.Sc. degree at Augustana College in southern California in 1976 and an M.Sc. degree at Northern Illinois University before joining Getty Oil as a geophysicist. He has since worked with Marathon Petroleum in Libya, Egypt, Indonesia, and Australia before joining the Geological Survey of Western Australia as project manager with responsibility for the Savory, Canning, Officer, and Amadeus basins.


Nicholas Eyles and Carolyn H. Eyles acknowledge generous funding from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada. We thank Arthur Mory, John Backhouse, Peter Purcell, and Henry Moors for constructive comments on previous drafts of the article. This article is published with permission of the director, Department of Minerals and Energy, Western Australia.


The Canning basin (400,000 km2) of Western Australia is one of the largest intracratonic basins to have been affected by cold climates as Gondwana drifted across the south polar regions during the Permian-Carboniferous. This article describes the tectono-stratigraphic setting and evolution of the Permian-Carboniferous Reeves Formation and Grant Group of the northern part of the basin. We employ seismic facies analysis, downhole well-log responses, palynostratigraphy, and sedimentary facies logs from 25 continuously cored wells. The succession rests on a widespread erosional unconformity of middle Carboniferous age. This surface may have been modified by glacial erosion when a late Carboniferous ice sheet expanded across the entire basin, but no primary glacial deposits can be identified; if present, such sediments were likely reworked during subsequent basin faulting. Reeves Formation and Grant Group strata are dominated by massive and deformed sandstones, diamictites, and conglomerates deposited subaqueously as sediment gravity flows close to active faults. Initial strata of Late Carboniferous age (Reeves Formation) are preserved in the deeper troughs (Fitzroy trough) and in salt collapse subbasins on high-standing structural blocks (Barbwire, Betty, and Balgo terraces; Crossland platform). These areas later subsided and were blanketed by gravity flow deposits of Early Permian age (Hoya Formation). In turn, a regional flooding surface and overlying bioturbated siltstone unit (Calytrix Formation) records an increase in relative water depths across the northern Canning basin. Siltstones coarsen upward into lower shoreface storm-influenced sandstones (Clianthus Formation) and the fluvial Poole Sandstone. Potential petroleum play types are principally associated with faults and channels.

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