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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 83 (1999), No. 8 (August 1999), P. 1236-1261.

Basin Evolution in Southern East Greenland: An Outcrop Analog for Cretaceous-Paleogene Basins on the North Atlantic Volcanic Margins1

Michael Larsen,2 Lars Hamberg,3 Snorre Olaussen,4 Niels Nørgaard-Pedersen,5 and Lars Stemmerik2

©Copyright 1999.  The American Association of Petroleum Geologists.  All Rights Reserved

1Manuscript received July 29, 1997; revised manuscript received January 11, 1999; final acceptance January 29, 1999.
2Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Thoravej 8, DK-2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark; e-mail: [email protected]
3DONG A/S (the Faeroe Partnership), Agern Allé 24-26, DK-2970 Hørsholm, Denmark.
4SAGA Petroleum A.S.A, P.O. Box 490, N-1301 Sandvika, Norway.
5GEOMAR, Forschungszentrum für marine Geowissenschaften, Wischhofstrasse 1-3, D-24148 Kiel, Germany.

This study was financially supported by Saga Petroleum A.S.A., DONG A/S on behalf of the Faeroe Partnership, and the Danish Lithosphere Centre (DLC). It forms part of the project on resources of the sedimentary basins of North and East Greenland, supported by the Danish Research Councils. Field work by Hamberg and Nørgaard-Pedersen (1988, 1990-1991) was supported by the Danish Natural Science Research Council through grants to E. Hoch, Geological Museum, Copenhagen. J. H. Callomon, University College, London, identified the ammonites. J. Halskov, J. Lautrup, and C. Thuesen provided technical support in preparation of the paper. We wish to thank AAPG Editor N. Hurley and reviewers J. B. Anderton, R. Bloch, and F. Surlyk for their thorough reviews and suggestions to improve the manuscript. Larsen and Stemmerik publish with permission of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. 


The Cretaceous-Paleogene Kangerlussuaq basin in southern East Greenland represents a unique outcrop analog for the frontier petroleum provinces along the deep-water volcanic margins of the northern North Atlantic.

The 1-km-thick sedimentary succession comprises six facies associations: (1) alluvial plain and shallow marine (late Aptian?), (2) fluvio-estuarine (late Aptian-early Albian), (3) offshore marine (Late Cretaceous-early Paleocene), (4) submarine fan and channel-levee (early Paleocene), (5) fluvial (mid-Paleocene), and (6) volcanic (late Paleocene). Sedimentation was terminated in the late Paleocene by extrusion of flood basalts related to continental breakup.

The basin fill is divided into two depositional megasequences related to regional tectonic events and sea level changes. The oldest megasequence (SQ1) spans the late Aptian to the earliest Paleocene with sea level rise in the late Aptian and maximum flooding in the late Albian-Cenomanian, followed by sea level highstand in the Late Cretaceous-early Paleocene. SQ1 is truncated by a basin-wide unconformity related to regional uplift and basin reorganization in the mid-Paleocene. The upper megasequence (SQ2) spans the mid- to late Paleocene and comprises sediments deposited during early sea level rise. Extensive volcanic deposits and continental flood basalts overlie it.

Deep burial (> 6 km) and middle Eocene-early Oligocene(?) uplift excludes the Kangerlussuaq basin as a petroleum basin in itself; however, to evaluate the petroleum potential of similar volcanic influenced offshore basins, such as the West Shetland, Faeroe, Møre, and Vøring basins, we discuss three conceptual play models based on the Kangerlussuaq basin: (1) early Albian stratigraphic trap, (2) early Paleocene structural trap, and (3) Paleocene stratigraphic trap. 

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