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AAPG Memoir 70: Abnormal Pressures in Hydrocarbon Environments
Edited by B.E. Law, G.F. Ulmishek, and V.I. Slavin
Copyright © 1998 by The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights
Memoir 70, Chapter 1: Abnormal Pressure in Hydrocarbon Environments, by Ben E. Law and
C.W. Spencer, Pages 1 - 11
Chapter 1 Abnormal Pressure in Hydrocarbon Environments
Ben E. Law1
C. W. Spencer
U.S. Geological Survey Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
1Present Affiliation: Consulting
Petroleum Geologist, Lakewood, Colorado, U.S.A.
Abnormal pressures, pressures above or below hydrostatic pressures, occur on all
continents in a wide range of geological conditions. According to a survey of published
literature on abnormal pressures, compaction disequilibrium and hydrocarbon generation are
the two most commonly cited causes of abnormally high pressure in petroleum provinces. In
young (Tertiary) deltaic sequences, compaction disequilibrium is the dominant cause of
abnormal pressure. In older (pre-Tertiary) lithified rocks, hydrocarbon generation,
aquathermal expansion, and tectonics are most often cited as the causes of abnormal
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