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The Canadian Arctic Islands sedimentary basin covers an area of approximately 530,000 sq mi, has a land area of 306,000 sq mi, and contains an estimated 900,000 cu mi of sediment. Ultimate recoverable oil reserves are estimated to be 40 billion bbl.
The area consists of 4 major structural provinces: (1) shield-bordering Precambrian shield areas with structural arches extending into the basin, (2) Central Stable region, (3) Innuitian region, and (4) the Arctic coastal plain.
The Central Stable region includes several basins containing relatively flat-lying shelf carbonates of Ordovician-Silurian age, with thicknesses generally 5,000 ft within the basin areas thickening northward to a maximum of 15,000 ft.
The Innuitian region is a mobile belt, characterized by thick sedimentation, that was tectonically active from the Paleozoic to the Tertiary. It is comprised of (a) the Franklinian fold belt, a gently folded early Paleozoic geosyncline, approximately 1,500 mi long, containing up to 16,000 ft of Ordovician and Silurian carbonate, evaporite, and shale; up to 6,000 ft of Lower Devonian clastics; and 16,000 ft of Middle and Upper Devonian strata ranging upward from marine carbonates and clastics to nonmarine clastics; and (b) Sverdrup basin, a NE-SW-trending basin, approximately 600 by 200 mi, containing up to 40,000 ft of post-Devonian to Tertiary strata. Permo-Pennsylvanian rocks are dominantly carbonate and evaporite. The Mesozoic to early Tertiary was dominated by heavy and continuous terrigenous clastic deposition, generally characterized by basinal marine-shale facies and marginal-sandstone facies. The axis of the basin is characterized by numerous evaporite diapirs.
The Arctic coastal plain contains late Tertiary and Pleistocene strata, along the northwest edge of the Arctic Islands, bordering the Arctic Ocean in the position of the present-day continental shelf.
The Arctic Islands sedimentary basin has all the necessary geologic elements conducive to the entrapment of hydrocarbons in prolific quantities. There is a very thick, lithologically varied, stratigraphic succession representing every geologic period, adequate source beds, and abundant potential rocks. There is an abundance of diversified traps--large anticlines, reefs, evaporite domes, faulted homoclines, unconformities, and facies changes. A wide range of hydrocarbon shows, including oil sands, seeps, stain, and bitumen, are present in a large area. The Arctic Islands is an area of outstanding potential for the discovery of large oil fields.
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