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Long-term evolution of the Argentine continental margin: implications for hydrocarbon generation, migration, leakage and climate feedback

Principal Investigators: Dr. Rolando di Primio, Dr. Brian Horsfield, Dr. Ralf Littke, Dr. Sönke NebenDiprimioRundeI

Sedimentary basins are significant sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in both marine and terrestrial systems. Greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane, from underlying thermal sources make an extremely significant, albeit largely unquantified, contribution to the Carbon-Cycle. Within sedimentary basins the deposition and burial of organic matter plays a crucial role for hydrocarbon (oil and natural gas) generation and migration, these processes contribute to the long term Carbon Cycle. When generated hydrocarbons reach the surface, they contribute to the short term fluxes of the Carbon Cycle and may even play a role in climate history. In order to understand and quantify the contribution of these emissions into the hydrosphere and atmosphere, an integrated study of the evolution of oil and gas-bearing sedimentary basins and the processes behind hydrocarbon generation, accumulation and leakage should be performed. We will use seismic analysis techniques, advanced basin modelling, and analytical geochemical techniques to study source-transport-sequestration systems since rifting times along the Argentine continental margin, where the presence of hydrocarbon accumulations and indications of currently active hydrocarbon systems has been reported. This time range is needed in order to encapsulate all quantitatively significant processes of the Carbon-Cycle influencing both resources and climate and to identify possible links between periods of enhanced natural leakage and feedback to climate. An integrated study involving detailed mapping of gas escape/ sequestration features (mud volcanoes, pockmarks, gas chimneys, BSRs), association to heat flow anomalies or structural elements, and 3D modelling and quantification of the petroleum systems that have sourced them through geologic time, has as yet not been performed in western South Atlantic.