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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 100, No. 9 (September 2016), P. 1443-1468.

Copyright ©2016. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1306/04041615023

Structural inversion, imbricate wedging, and out-of-sequence thrusting in the southern Junggar fold-and-thrust belt, northern Tian Shan, China

Shuwei Guan,1 Joseph M. Stockmeyer,2 John H. Shaw,3 Andreas Plesch,4 and Jian Zhang5

1Research Institute for Petroleum Exploration and Development, PetroChina, 20 Xue Yuan Rd, Haidian District, Beijing, China 100083; [email protected]
2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, 20 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138; present address: Chevron, 1500 Louisiana Street, Houston, Texas 77002; [email protected]
3Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, 20 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138; [email protected]
4Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, 20 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138; [email protected]
5Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development, Xinjiang Oilfield Company, 2 Youhao South Road, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China 830000; [email protected]


Accurate definition of structural style in subsurface interpretation is critically important for understanding the deformation history of fold-and-thrust belts, as well as assessing the petroleum prospectivity of structural traps. Using two- and three-dimensional seismic reflection surveys, well data, field mapping, forward models, and balanced cross sections, we describe the structural styles across the actively deforming southern Junggar fold-and-thrust belt in northwestern China, a basin undergoing petroleum exploration and development operations. Subsurface interpretations indicate several folds in the basin overlie Jurassic normal faults that were tectonically inverted in the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous. Following inversion, multiple detachment levels propagated northward from the Tian Shan and formed a series of imbricated fault-related folds. The most prominent fold trend in southern Junggar consists of the Tugulu, Manas, and Huoerguosi anticlines, which trap hydrocarbons in clastic Eocene reservoirs. These structures exhibit complex internal geometries, with coeval forethrusts and backthrusts forming imbricated structural wedges. In the latest stages of deformation, and continuing at present, the uppermost thrust sheet, the Southern Junggar Thrust (SJT), truncated the backlimbs of these structural traps, implying the SJT is a tectonically active, out-of-sequence thrust. From these interpretations, we present a model for how the southern Junggar fold-and-thrust belt developed from Jurassic to present. Moreover, we detail how fold growth, fault activity, and structural style affected charge histories, trap formation, and reservoir compartmentalization. Our results have direct implications for assessment of the southern Junggar petroleum system as well as other complex fold-and-thrust belts.

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