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AAPG Bulletin


A New Frontier Province Offshore Northwest Greenland: Structure, Basin Development, and Petroleum Potential of the Melville Bay Area1

R. C. Whittaker, N. E. Hamann, and T. C. R. Pulvertaft4


In the Melville Bay area, offshore northwest Greenland, very large structures and sedimentary basins, which were predicted many years ago on the basis of magnetic and gravity data, have been confirmed by a recent reconnaissance seismic survey, with implications that are encouraging for petroleum exploration in the area.

The Melville Bay area flanks a small ocean basin in Baffin Bay that is thought to have formed by oblique sea-floor spreading in the Eocene. There are two major, coast-parallel basins in the area. The inner basin, the Melville Bay Graben, is essentially 
a half graben with a maximum thickness of 
sediments exceeding 13 km. A complex fault-
controlled ridge system separates this basin from the outer Kivioq Basin in which up to 7 km of sediments have accumulated.

By analogy with onshore geology in the surrounding areas and well data from the continental shelves off southern west Greenland and Labrador to the south, it is expected that the first phase of rifting and sedimentation took place in the Early-middle Cretaceous, while a second phase of rifting took place in the latest Cretaceous and early Paleocene. Later, compression and inversion affected the northern part of the area, leading to the formation of large anticlinal structures.

©Copyright 1997. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

1Manuscript received January 30, 1996; revised manuscript received September 9, 1996; final acceptance January 21, 1997.

2GeoArctic Consulting Ltd., 1620 9th Street NW, Calgary, Alberta T2M 3L4, Canada.

3Nunaoil A/S, Pilestræde 52, DK-1112 Copenhagen, Denmark.

4Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Thoravej 8, DK-2400 Copenhagen, Denmark.

We wish to acknowledge the companies partaking in the KANUMAS project: BP, Exxon, Japan National Oil Company, Shell, Statoil, and Texaco, for allowing us the opportunity to publish this paper. Our thanks also to Rene Forsberg and Simon Ekholm, National Survey and Cadastre, for processing the gravity data for the paper, and to Alan Menelly (consultant) for discussions on the structural development of the area. Airborne gravity data were made available courtesy of John Brozena of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

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