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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 89, No. 2 (February 2005), P. 255-269.

Copyright copy2005. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Tectonic and stratigraphic controls of hydrocarbon systems in the Ordos basin: A multicycle cratonic basin in central China

Yongtai Yang,1 Wei Li,2 Long Ma3

1Department of Geology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B1, Canada; yongtaiy@geology.utoronto.ca
2Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development (RIPED), Beijing 100083, China; lwe@petrochina.com.cn
3Department of Geosciences, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun, Houston, Texas 77204; lacusdolo@lycos.com


Yongtai Yang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto, studying sequence stratigraphy and basin analysis. He received a B.Sc. degree in geophysics from the Daqing Petroleum Institute in 1993 and an M.Sc. degree in geology from the China Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development (RIPED) in 1996. He worked as a petroleum geologist at RIPED from July 1996 to July 2003.

Wei Li is pursuing a Ph.D. in geology in the Chengdu University of Technology. He has worked for RIPED since receiving a B.Sc. degree in geology from the Jianghan Petroleum Institute in 1987 and is currently a senior petroleum geologist at RIPED.

Long Ma is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Houston, studying carbonate sedimentology. He received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in geology from the Chengdu University of Technology in 1997 and RIPED in 2001, respectively.


Yongtai Yang is grateful to his supervisor, Andrew Miall, for his course ldquoSeminars in basin Analysisrdquo and his careful review. We thank Tianguang Xu, Carmala Garzione, Paul Kapp, and Bradley Ritts and journal editors John Lorenz and Carol Christopher for their helpful comments and suggestions.


The Ordos basin is the oldest and still an important hydrocarbon province in central China. It is a typical cratonic basin developed on the Archean granulites and lower Proterozoic greenschists of the North China block. The development of the Ordos basin during the Paleozoic–Mesozoic can be divided into three evolutionary stages: Cambrian–Early Ordovician cratonic basin with divergent margins; Middle Ordovician–Middle Triassic cratonic basin with convergent margins; and Late Triassic–Early Cretaceous intraplate remnant cratonic basin. Two hydrocarbon systems are present in the basin: the Paleozoic gas and Mesozoic oil systems. In the Paleozoic gas system, the Lower Ordovician marine carbonates and Pennsylvanian–Lower Permian coal measures serve as source rocks. The Lower Ordovician karst-modified dolomites and Pennsylvanian bauxitic mudstones form a significant reservoir-seal association, and the Pennsylvanian–Lower Permian deltaic sandstones and Upper Permian lacustrine mudstones form another effective reservoir-seal association. In the Mesozoic oil system, the Upper Triassic lacustrine mudstones are mature source rocks. The Upper Triassic deltaic sandstones and overlying shallow-lacustrine and swamp mudstones form a reservoir-seal association, and the Lower Jurassic fluvial sandstones and overlying shallow-lacustrine and swamp mudstones form another reservoir-seal association. In both hydrocarbon systems, the stratigraphic variations provide the principal traps. The Ordos basin is characterized by a stable tectonic setting that controlled the distribution of depositional systems and the development of erosional surfaces and ultimately governed the distribution of oil and gas fields and trap types.

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