Quantification of exhumation in the Eromanga Basin and its implications for hydrocarbon exploration
Exhumation in the Eromanga Basin of South Australia and Queensland has been quantified using compaction methodology. All methods of estimating exhumation utilize rock properties that are affected by, and retain a memory of, burial in excess of that presently observed. The tool used for estimating the exhumation in this study is analysis of the degree of overcompaction of rock units. Since porosity describes compaction state, the sonic log, controlled strongly by the amount of porosity, is an appropriate indicator of compaction and, hence, is used for quantifying exhumation from compaction. The standard method of estimating exhumation based on the degree of overcompaction of a single shale unit has been modified, and seven units, predominantly shales ranging in age from the Cretaceous to the Jurassic, have been analysed. All units yield similar results. Burial at depth greater than currently observed is the most likely cause of overcompaction since it is unlikely that sedimentological and/or diagenetic processes are responsible for similar amounts of overcompaction in different lithologies. The results of the compaction analysis reveal that Late Cretaceous–Tertiary exhumation increases eastwards from the Patchawarra Trough, through the Gidgealpa–Merrimelia–Innamincka Trend and Nappamerri Trough into the Queensland sector of the basins. This study has major implications for hydrocarbon exploration. Predicted maturation of source rocks will be greater for any given geothermal history if exhumation is incorporated in maturation modelling. The exhumation study helps to quantify velocity anomalies associated with overcompaction. Exhumation values can also be used to improve porosity predictions of reservoir units in undrilled targets.