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The foreland of the Bavarian Alps consists of the Tertiary Molasse and its Mesozoic substratum. So far, 38 oil and gas fields have been found with reserves of 14 million bbl (2 million MT) of oil and 140 bcf (4 billion m3) of natural gas. The fields are associated predominantly with antithetic normal faults and, to a lesser extent, with low-relief anticlines or a combination of such anticlines and shaling-out sands. The lower part of the Molasse and its Mesozoic substratum dip to the south under the Alpine thrust units.
Despite its depth of 7,000 m (23,000 ft) and more, the subthrust is still considered to be within the oil window, and is the prime target for exploration in the Bavarian Alps. Other possible targets are the Kalkalpin and Helveticum thrust units; the chances in the Folded Molasse and Flysch thrust units are considered to be extremely low.
Seismic exploration in the Alps is difficult because of the rough topography, thick Quaternary sediments, a deep weathering zone, and heterogeneous seismic velocities in the thrust units and their Quaternary cover.
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