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Organic productivity and preservation are primary controls of the distribution of petroleum source beds. Both organic productivity and preservation are in part a function of geographic setting and climate. Therefore, the prediction of paleoclimates is a major frontier in petroleum source rock prediction. A climate model based on the fundamental laws thought to govern atmospheric circulation is applied here to the prediction of upwelling regions associated with very high productivity and bottom conditions that may become anoxic despite a high oxygen supply. The potential and limitations of climate modeling in the prediction of upwelling regions are examined by (1) demonstrating the ability of the model to predict present-day winds and upwelling regions, (2) demonstrating t at the model--and the location of upwelling regions--is sensitive to geography (continental positions, sea level, and topography), and (3) investigating whether the model sensitivity to past geographies is realistic, i.e., if predicted upwelling regions for the Cretaceous Period correspond to source rock localities.
The model predictions of ocean and coastal upwelling compare very favorably with present-day observations and with estimates of primary productivity. The location of middle-latitude and high-latitude upwelling locations are sensitive to model-specified geography. The location of low-latitude upwelling is less sensitive to changes in global geography if coastlines are oriented appropriately. Despite some limitations, a comparison of source rock localities with model predictions is promising.
The results of these studies suggest that numerical climate modeling is a potential tool in petroleum source rock prediction.
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