A Petroleum Systems Analysis of the Southern Espanola Basin of the Rio Grande Rift, New Mexico



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The Española Basin of north-central New Mexico is an asymmetric half graben of the Rio Grande Rift. The Rio Grande Rift is Cenozoic in age with initial extension beginning at approximately 27 Ma. This extension immediately followed the compressional Laramide Orogeny and the rift is still active today, although it has become nearly dormant. The Española Basin is one of several NS-oriented narrow basins located in the central Rio Grande Rift, bordered by the San Luis Basin to the north and the Santo Domingo and Albuquerque Basins to the south. The Española Basin is dipping westward, bounded by the Pajarito master fault, with a maximum sediment thickness of approximately 3 km. The basin has undergone a small amount of petroleum exploration over the past century but this has been sporadic and sparse. A petroleum system in this basin has been detected by oil and/or gas shows in exploratory wells and sampling of a Pennsylvanian source rock. In this study, numerous one-dimensional models were created to model basin characteristics as well as petroleum system elements at individual well locations throughout the basin. This process was used to model different reservoir/seal pairs as well other characteristics such as deeper burial depth of the source horizon not seen in all well bores. Two-dimensional models were also created for complete basin modeling of the southern Española Basin and to fully analyze the petroleum system present. Through basin modeling techniques it can be shown that this portion of the Española Basin has all of the necessary elements of a petroleum system including source, reservoirs, seals and migration pathways. The modeling also shows that despite the basin being relatively shallow high heat flow and other factors allowed for the source rock to mature and petroleum generation to occur.



Petroleum system analysis, Petroleum systems, Espanola Basin