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AAPG Bulletin


Shallow Geology of the Northern Barents Sea: Implications for Petroleum Potential1

Finn B. Gustavsen, Henning Dypvik, and Anders Solheim2


The shallow geology of the northern Barents Sea has been studied through analyses of geophysical data and geological samples from gravity cores. Mesozoic rocks subcrop in the entire study area, with Triassic-Middle Jurassic rocks dominating the shallowest and western part of the area, and Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous rocks dominating the central areas. A palynologically investigated sample, representing in-situ bed rock, gives an Aptian-early Albian age, indicating that Lower Cretaceous units dominate the eastern part of the study area. These beds were deposited during 
shallow-marine conditions and show a petrographic composition comparable to the Carolinefjellet Formation of Svalbard. The thickness of the Lower Cretaceous section is almost 1000 m. Organic geochemical analyses of the Aptian-lower Albian rocks suggest a post-Early Cretaceous erosion of a maximum of 2000 m. An important tectonic event in the region was a compressive phase near the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary.

Occurrences of porous, well-sorted Lower Cretaceous sandstones succeeding organic-rich, mature Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous shales, sealed by Lower Cretaceous shales within antiform settings, represent interesting play concepts in the

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

1Manuscript received May 2, 1996; revised manuscript received December 2, 1996; final acceptance June 16, 1997.

2Norwegian Polar Institute, P.O. Box 5072, Majorstua, N-0301 Oslo, Norway.

3Department of Geology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047, Blindern, 
N-0316 Oslo, Norway.

This study forms a part of the bilateral Arctic research program between Norway and Russia (at that time the Soviet Union), agreed upon in 1988. The Norwegian Research Council for Science and the Humanities, NAVF (later the Norwegian Research Council, NFR), is acknowledged for funding the project. Financial support kindly provided by Statoil AS made the acquisition of the present data possible through Norwegian participation in a Russian cruise in 1992. Amerada Hess Norge A/S is thanked for their financial support. PGS Nopec AS is acknowledged for kindly giving us access to the four Russian MCS lines. Sincere thanks go to the captain and crew aboard the R/V Geolog Fersman for their valuable cooperation during the cruise in 1992. Kevin T. Biddle (Exxon), Ståle Johansen (Statoil), Anatoly A. Kaplan (Exxon), and Christopher Kendall (University of South Carolina) critically reviewed an earlier version of the manuscript.

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