training specialists to the upstream oil and gas industry

Field Trip - Structural Geology, Stratigraphic Architecture and Trap Styles of Sicily Fold Thrust Belts

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Course overview

This five-day field trip offers an intensive and robust multidisciplinary approach to techniques and analysis used in the field (regional geology, geodynamics, structural geology, stratigraphy, facies analysis and petroleum geology). Set in the famous island of Sicily, home to one of the most interesting and complex fold & thrust belts worldwide, this course is designed to show participants the typical geological control factors in different geodynamic and palaeoenvironmental scenarios.

The field trip is structured daily in the integrated analysis of stratigraphic and structural settings of one palaeodomain, using existing data sets and comparing subsurface data and outcrops. There are five days for five different geological scenarios (carbonate platform, slope-to-basin, basin, terrigenous/evaporitic basin, foreland basin systems) in different tectonic stages (passive margin, failed rift, flexure, compression, thrust-top/satellite basin). Each day the task is to analyze the geosettings, to reconstruct the relationship and to predict the geometry of subsurface structures. Landscape and seismic-scale outcrops will help participants in the correlation with the tectonic model, geophysical data and analysis of structural styles.

Upon arrival in Sicily, after a geology review and introduction on the regional settings, the field trip begins with a visittof various palaeodomains, starting from the higher structural units towards the less deformed. Different pieces of information collected every day will allow you to put them together to draw a coherent geological picture, to produce a palinspastic restoration and to analyze the geodynamic scenario. We conclude the trip with prospect assessment and play analysis of oilfields in Sicily that are actually in production. Food, wine, monuments, and an impressive landscape and coastline of Sicily will accompany you along this trip.

Course Level: Intermediate to advanced

How we build your confidence

  • New insights in recognition and prediction of the geometry of shallow-seated and deep-seated structures, ramp dominated units vs thrust sheet dominated units.
  • Facies analysis and correlation between different palaeoenvironmental scenarios, from meso-scale to seismic scale units.
  • Cross-correlations between outcropping and buried structures, using seismic profile and well-data applied to a very impressive landscape.
  • Explanation of new data deriving from commercial and crustal profile providing new insights and prediction criteria on the relationships between a) an imbricated carbonate thrust system of the Northern chain, b) the huge Caltanissetta terrigenous trough consisting of embricated thrusts system, and c) the flexure of the Iblean foreland crust below the FTB.
  • Different type of petroleum system and plays will be shown during this five-day field trip.
  • Exercises, line drawing, stratigraphic logging, structural data plotting and mapping will be performed during the survey.

Course objectives

By the end of the course you will feel more confident in your understanding of:
  • The geological setting of the Sicilian-Maghreb FTB: the Mesozoic palaeodomains of the ancient African continental margin (basins and carbonate platforms) and their structural evolution
  • The relation between shallow-seated and deep-seated deformations in the Tertiary evolution of the thrust belt; the effects of the late transpressional tectonics
  • Large-scale inverted and transpressional structures and their potential for petroleum exploration
  • Synorogenic Tertiary deposits: sedimentology and facies associations
  • Lateral facies changes, architecture and structural control of the sin-compressional Miocene basins in Northern Sicily
  • The Messinian evaporitic deposits: lithostratigraphy, sedimentation vs tectonic process and new insights
  • The potential geo-resources of the Caltanissetta Basin (late Messinian): bituminous euxinic shale, salt dome and methane mud volcanoes
  • The Pliocene foreland basins of the Gela plain and the oilfields in subsurface
  • The present-day structural setting of the Sicilian foreland, seismic data from the Sicilian offshore
  • Reliable note, draw, plot and map during a field survey, and the importance of field techniques and analysis to decrease uncertainties
  • Unique opportunity to approach different geological scenarios in a single field trip 

The course is designed for

This course is suitable for geologists, geophysicists, explorationists and geoscientists in general that want to broaden and deepen their knowledge in the field about the kinematic evolution of an FTB-foreland system, using a very multi-disciplinary approach. Continuous and well-exposed “seismic scale” outcrops will help you to understand the geometries of the geological bodies, using commercial and crustal seismic profiles, and well and geophysical data sets.

Course outline

Day 4

Georesources in the Messinian Evaporites; Miocene-Quaternary mixed ramp

Terrigenous and Evaporitic units: stratigraphy, facies and structural assemblage. Unconventional and seepages.

Caltanissetta terrigenous basin, introduction and characteristics.

Santa Barbara village:  the “Maccalube” mud volcanoes, gas and oil seepages, analysis and possible interpretation.

Mt. Capodarso: Miocene-Quaternary section stacking pattern in a thrust-top basin setting. Orbital forcing and control on the deposition. Practical exercises.

Pietraperzia: panoramic view of seismic scale structures, folding and faulting. Prediction criteria. Stratigraphic and structural setting of Tripoli fm. and evaporites. Petroleum potential of unconventional euxinic deposits. Recognition of cyclic successions and analysis on TOC. Limits and risks.

Dinner and overnight in Gela

Day 5

The frontal part of the chain and the present foredeep: comparison with the subsurface setting will be imaged by seismic reflection pro­files; the oil ­fields of Southern Sicily; the Iblean foreland and the forebulge with surface and sub-surface comparisons.

From the thrust front to the foreland. Depositional environment and petroleum potential. Exploration insights.

Castelluccio hill: the Gela Nappe front along the Settefarine thrust and the Gela foredeep. Comparison with the subsurface setting will be imaged by seismic reflection profiles.

Settefarine: tectonic setting of the high angle Settefarine thrust.

Gela Oilfields: history, type of traps and style, play analysis and geological parameter affecting the origin of the play. Risks and prediction.

Ragusa: the present-day foredeep and the Iblean foreland with surface and sub-surface comparisons. Relationship, comparison with the geological history, present day settings.

Ragusa Oilfield: history and type of traps, risks and critic geological parameter. Exploration in foredeep/foreland systems.

Departure to Catania

Day 1

Introduction on the geological setting of the Sicily; the Mesozoic carbonate succession of the Panormide platform and facies relationships; interference between tectonic structures.

Carbonate units: stratigraphy, facies analysis and structural units (deep seated vs shallow seated def.)

Introduction on the geological setting of the Sicily; departure from Palermo.

Cozzo di Lupo area: Mesozoic carbonate succession of the Panormide  Carbonate platform: large and small scale stratigraphic analysis on reef complex. Prediction criteria using facies analysis on the field. Focus on the reef to back-reef lagoon facies relationships.

Kumeta ridge (Piana degli Albanesi): seismic scale field analysis to illustrate the interference between shallow- and deep-seated tectonic structures. Typical tectonic styles and structural assemblage in carbonatic units.

Dinner and overnight in Palermo

Day 2

Meso-Cenozoic slope-to-basin Imerese succession and its relationships with the overlaying Oligo-Miocene Numidian Flysch foredeep

Slope to Basin units (pelagic limestones and cherts): evolution from passive margin to compressional stages

Collesano:  main features of the Meso-Cenozoic slope-to-basin Imerese stratigraphic succession and its relationships with the overlaying Oligo-Miocene Numidian Flysch foredeep. How to recognize changes in geodynamic scenario (from passive margin to foreland basin stages).

Scillato: the internal deformation of the Imerese succession and panoramic overview of the Scillato wedge-top basin.

Imera River gorge: from the foreland basin stage to the satellite basin stage. Geometry, facies and structures of the Scillato wedge top Basin succession will be observed in detail along the gorge.

Synthesis respects the Wilson Cycle theory.

Dinner Overnight at Cammarata

Day 3

Mesozoic extensional tectonics, volcanism and sedimentation at the Triassic Jurassic boundary the Sicanian deep-water domain; comparison of outcrop and seismic profi­le; Neogene imbricate thrust system deposits.

Basinal units: facies, structural assemblage and the role of tectonic and volcanism during a failed rift stage.

Montagnola  quarry: correlation between the outcrops and seismic/well data. Restoration of superposition of structural units

Pizzo Lupo quarry: Mesozoic extensional tectonics and volcanism and sedimentation at the Triassic Jurassic boundary, failed rift stages. Fractures pattern and critic parameters. Implication from the reservoir potential.

Monte Cammarata: a walk along the Triassic-Miocene carbonates succession of the Sicanian deep-water domain.

Monte Cammarata panoramic view: a comparison of the structural setting observed in outcrop and imaged in seismic profile.

Cozzo Monaco: panoramic view of the deformation style of Neogene imbricate thrust system  deposits. Comparison with the deep structures. The role of the anisotropy.

Dinner and overnight in Caltanissetta


Location Start Date End Date Cost Trainer Book
Sicily Upon request   £2,950 Dr Gabriele Lena  Make enquiry
Note: Price includes local transfers, ground transportation, accommodation, all meals and refreshments throughout the period of the field trip. Safety equipment and guides are also included to ensure the comfort and safety of the participants.

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