S. Omodeo-Salé1,+,*, R. Ondrak2, J. Arribas1, R. Mas3, J. Guimerà4 and L. Martínez5

1 Departamento de Mineralogía y Petrología, UCM, IGEO (UCM-CSIC), Madrid, Spain.

2 Section Organic Geochemistry, GFZ, German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany.

3 Departamento de Geodinámica, Estratigrafía y Paleontología, UCM, IGEO (UCM-CSIC), Madrid, Spain.

4 Dept. de Dinàmica de la Terra i de l’Oceà, Facultat de Ciències de la Terra, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.

5 EOST, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France.

* Current address: Department of Earth Science, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

+ Corresponding author, email:

The Mesozoic Cameros Basin, northern Spain, was inverted during the Cenozoic Alpine orogeny when the Tithonian – Upper Cretaceous sedimentary fill was uplifted and partially eroded. Tar sandstones outcropping in the southern part of the basin and pyrobitumen particles trapped in potential source rocks suggest that hydrocarbons have been generated in the basin and subsequently migrated. However, no economic accumulations of oil or gas have yet been found. This study reconstructs the evolution of possible petroleum systems in the basin from initial extension through to the inversion phase, and is based on structural, stratigraphic and sedimentological data integrated with petrographic and geochemical observations. Petroleum systems modelling was used to investigate the timing of source rock maturation and hydrocarbon generation, and to reconstruct possible hydrocarbon migration pathways and accumulations.
In the northern part of the basin, modelling results indicate that the generation of hydrocarbons began in the Early Berriasian and reached a peak in the Late Barremian – Early Albian. The absence of traps during peak generation prevented the formation of significant hydrocarbon accumulations. Some accumulations formed after the deposition of post-extensional units (Late Cretaceous in age) which acted as seals. However, during subsequent inversion, these reservoir units were uplifted and eroded.
In the southern sector of the basin, hydrocarbon generation did not begin until the Late Cretaceous due to the lower rates of subsidence and burial, and migration and accumulation may have taken place until the initial phases of inversion. Sandstones impregnated with bitumen (tar sandstones) observed at the present day in the crests of surface anticlines in the south of the basin are interpreted to represent the relics of these palaeo-accumulations.
Despite a number of uncertainties which are inherent to modelling the petroleum systems evolution of an inverted and overmature basin, this study demonstrates the importance of integrating multidisciplinary and multi-scale data to the resource assessment of a complex fold-and-thrust belt.

Key words: petroleum systems modelling, fold-and-thrust belt, basin inversion, source rock, migration, tar sandstones, palaeo reservoirs, Cameros Basin, Cretaceous, Spain.

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