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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 94, No. 5 (May 2010), P. 597613.

Copyright copy2010. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Fault linkage and graben stepovers in the Canyonlands (Utah) and the North Sea Viking Graben, with implications for hydrocarbon migration and accumulation

Haakon Fossen,1 Richard A. Schultz,2 Egil Rundhovde,3 Atle Rotevatn,4 Simon J. Buckley5

1Center for Integrated Petroleum Research, Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen, P.O. Box 7800, Bergen 5020, Norway; [email protected]
2Geomechanics-Rock Fracture Group, Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering/172, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada 89557; [email protected]
3StatoilHydro, Box 7200, Bergen 5020, Norway; [email protected]
4Center for Integrated Petroleum Research, University of Bergen, Allegaten 41, 5007 Bergen, Norway; present address: Rocksource ASA, P.O. Box 994 Sentrum, Bergen 5808, Norway; [email protected]
5Center for Integrated Petroleum Research, University of Bergen, Allegaten 41, Bergen 5007, Norway; [email protected]


Segmented graben systems develop stepovers that have important implications in the exploration of oil and gas in extensional tectonic basins. We have compared and modeled a representative stepover between grabens in Canyonlands, Utah, and the North Sea Viking Graben and, despite their different structural settings, found striking similarities that pertain to other graben systems. In both cases, the stepovers represent relatively high parts within the graben systems that are likely to be among the first to be filled with hydrocarbons generated in deeper parts of the grabens. Furthermore, the relay ramps and smaller fault offsets in stepovers ease hydrocarbon migration and allow stepovers to act as preferred migration routes from deep graben kitchens to structurally higher traps in the basin. Graben stepovers and their related structures should be paid special attention during exploration because they may represent hydrocarbon accumulations complementary to larger traps along the graben flanks. These observations explain the location of the Kvitebjorn, Valemon, and Huldra fields in a stepover structure of the Viking Graben and encourage increased focus on similar graben stepovers in the Viking Graben and other graben systems.

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