INFLUENCE OF POST-DANIAN SEA-LEVEL CHANGES AND VARIATIONS IN SEDIMENTATION RATE ON OVERPRESSURE BUILD UP IN THE CLAY-RICH OVERBURDEN IN THE DANISH SECTOR OF THE NORTH SEA CENTRAL GRABEN
Ivanka Orozova-Bekkevold +*, Erik Skovbjerg Rasmussen # and Niels Hemmingsen Schovsbo #
+ Physics of Ice, Climate and Earth, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Tagensvej 16, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark.
# GEUS – Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
* corresponding author: email@example.com
Overpressure build up in the clay-rich succession between sea floor and the top of the Chalk Group in the area around wells North Jens-1 and Fasan-1 in the Danish sector of the Central Graben, North Sea was examined by forward modelling. “Overpressure”, i.e. fluid pressure higher than hydrostatic pressure, is expressed here in terms of both the difference between pore pressure and hydrostatic pressure at a given depth and the ratio between these pressures. Pore pressure changes over time were estimated by numerical simulation of post-Danian depositional processes, incorporating sea level changes and variations in sedimentation rate. Results show that the deposition of the post-Danian (“overburden”) succession led to overpressure build up both in the overburden itself and in the underlying sediments (the so-called “underburden”). The largest estimated present-day overpressures (4.9-5.6 MPa, 23-26% above hydrostatic) occur at the base of the overburden, while an overpressure of up to 5.5 MPa was calculated to occur in the underburden. Variations in sedimentation rate appeared to have influenced the build-up of overpressure in the overburden, although no significant effect was found in the underburden.
The results indicate that more than 50% of the present-day overpressure in the overburden was generated in the last 5.3 million years, i.e. during the Pliocene and the Quaternary. When variations in sedimentation rate during the Miocene were included in the modelling calculation, this proportion increased to nearly 70%. A decrease in sedimentation rate in the mid-Miocene (Serravallian, 15-11.2 Ma) and the late Miocene (Messinian, 7.5-5.3 Ma) resulted in the dissipation of overpressures generated previously when the sedimentation rate was higher. About 60% of the overpressure generated in the Miocene developed during the Tortonian but only 14% during the Messinian.
Water depth appears to influence the overpressure magnitude. Sea level changes played a minor and short-lived role in overpressure build up. The influence of water depth was most pronounced when it was significantly greater than the thickness of the deposited sediments.
The method of overpressure estimation used in this paper may be a valuable alternative to methods based on porosity trend analysis which are widely used in the oil and gas industry. Both the methods used here and the results may be useful in subsurface evaluations related to carbon storage in the Danish Central Graben (e.g. project Green Sand).
Key words: Overpressure, Danish Central Graben, North Sea, Cenozoic, depositional process, overburden, mechanical compaction, basin modelling, numerical forward model, finite elements approach.
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