N319 Sedimentary Basin Evolution and Petroleum Systems

Course Facts

Course Code:
5 days
4.0 Continuing Education Units
40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


This course examines the tectonic, stratigraphic and sedimentary controls on petroleum systems in sedimentary basins. The tectonic processes generating sedimentary basins, their structural development, the geometry of each basin type and the development of depositional systems within basins are described.

Duration and Training Method

A five-day classroom course, comprising lectures and exercises in seismic interpretation along with discussion. The focus is on regional prospectivity and generalised play types in each basin type.

Participants will learn to:

  1. Categorise the general tectonic, stratigraphic and sedimentary controls on petroleum systems in sedimentary basins in generic worldwide settings.
  2. Examine the plate tectonic settings, fault geometries, drainage patterns, sediment derivation and facies patterns associated with syn-rift basins formed in continental interiors, aulacogens and beneath passive margins.
  3. Categorise the various tectonic controls on trapping styles in petroleum systems formed in post-rift settings (e.g. gravity tectonics; diapirism and drape).
  4. Analyse the development and evolution of convergent subduction-accretion and arc-related forearc and back-arc basins and the effects of the volcanic arc products for petroleum systems therein.
  5. Analyse the petroleum systems set up in compressional, fold-and-thrust belts and their associated foreland basin settings, subsidence and erosional history,
  6. Illustrate the effects of positive structural inversion in controlling structural styles, fault geometries and their petroleum systems.
  7. Verify structural geometries that characterise petroleum systems formed in strike-slip (wrench) settings.

The plate tectonic processes generating sedimentary basins, the structural development and the geometry of each basin type are outlined and the development of depositional systems within basins are described. Emphasis will be placed on the processes that profoundly influence the temporal and spatial structural variability of structural styles, their influence on sediment transport pathways and hence, trap geometry and reservoir predictions.

Course Content

Day 1 – Morning

  • Lecture 1: Introduction:  Petroleum Systems and Basin Analysis
  • Lecture 2: Classification of Sedimentary Basins
  • Practical Exercise: Sedimentary Basin characteristics

Day 1 – Afternoon

  • Lecture 3: Rift Systems in 2D
  • Practical Exercise: North West Shelf case study - introduction

Day 2 – Morning

  • Lecture 4a: Rift Systems in 3D
  • Practical Exercise: Oblique rift interpretation exercise
  • Lecture 4b: Petroleum Systems in Rift Basins
  • Practical Exercise: Carnarvon Basin (North West Shelf) Petroleum Systems

Day 2 – Afternoon

  • Lecture 5a: Strike-slip Basins
  • Practical Exercise: N Thailand Satellite image interpretation exercise
  • Lecture 5b: Petroleum Systems in strike-slip basins

Day 3 – Morning

  • Lecture 6a: Passive margins – tectonics, structure and stratigraphy
  • Practical Exercise: Bight Basin case study - introduction

Day 3 – Afternoon

  • Lecture 6b: Passive margins – gravitational deformation; petroleum systems
  • Practical Exercise: Bight Basin Petroleum systems

Day 4 – Morning

  • Lecture 7a: Inverted Extensional Basins
  • Practical Exercise: Taranaki Basin case study
  • Lecture 7b: Petroleum Systems in inverted basins
  • Practical Exercise: Taranaki Basin Petroleum systems

Day 4 – Afternoon

  • Lecture 8a: Salt Basins
  • Practical Exercise: N Sea salt structures
  • Lecture 8b: Petroleum Systems in salt basins
  • Practical Exercise: N Sea Petroleum systems

Day 5 – Morning

  • Lecture 9a:  Fold-Thrust belts and Foreland Basins
  • Practical Exercise: Thrust systems interpretation exercise

Day 5 – Afternoon 

  • Lecture 9b: Subduction and Arc related basins
  • Practical Exercise: Hawke Bay Interpretation exercise

Who should attend

This course is primarily intended for early career geologists and geophysicists in their first five years of working in the oil industry. Technical support staff seeking to increase their geological and interpretation skills will also find the course useful. The course gives a broad overview of petroleum systems in different basin types and can be used as a primer or refresher for specific basin types for more experienced staff.

Prerequisites and linking courses

There are no prerequisites for this course, although an understanding of basic geological principles and seismic interpretation would be useful.  After completion of this course, participants can further develop their knowledge of structural geology by attending N220 Structural Geology and Seismic Interpretation for Petroleum Exploration and Production. If they wish to improve their understanding of SE Asia petroleum systems specifically we recommend attending Ian Longley’s Nautilus course N130 SE Asia Petroleum Systems. 

For further information on other Structure and Tectonics courses offered by Nautilus, please consult the Structure and Tectonics Subject Matter Competency Map, available on the training website at training.rpsgroup.com

Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

Chris Elders

Excellent course with clear presentation by instructor