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GEOLOGY OF GREENLAND SURVEY BULLETIN 191

 
A multidisciplinary study of the Palaeogene succession offshore southern West Greenland

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A project with the aim of amalgamating an interpreta-
tion of reflection seismic data from offshore southern
West Greenland with a new interpretation of well data
was finalised at the Geological Survey of Denmark and
Greenland (GEUS) in 2001 (Chalmers et al. 2001b). As
part of this study, seismic and depositional sequences
between major regional unconformities of Danian and
mid-Eocene age were delineated and dated.
New palaeoenvironmental and sedimentological inter-
pretations using dinoflagellate cyst, microfossil and
nannoplankton stratigraphies and palaeoenvironmen-
tal interpretations from the five exploration wells drilled
offshore West Greenland in the 1970s have been com-
bined with a revised interpretation of lithology and cor-
related with the aid of seismic stratigraphy. The Qulleq-1
well drilled in 2000 was relinquished late in the pro-
ject period (Christiansen et al. 2002, this volume), and
it has therefore only been possible to incorporate bio-
stratigraphic information from this well into the project.
The results show that the region offshore southern
West Greenland (Fig. 1) was subject to major uplift and
erosion during the Danian, when uppermost Cretaceous
sediments were removed. Sedimentation resumed in
the late Danian, and was coeval with major volcanism
in central West Greenland and the start of sea-floor
spreading in the Labrador Sea. Upper Paleocene sedi-
ments were deposited in a predominantly extensional
tectonic environment. The extensional stresses contin-
ued in most areas during the Early Eocene, but in the
northern and north-western part of the region, a transten-
sional system developed along a major strike-slip fault
system that transferred sea-floor spreading movements
between the Labrador Sea and Baffin Bay.
A stratigraphic framework for the basins offshore
southern West Greenland has been erected based on
knowledge from the six drilled exploration wells and
the onshore exposures of sediments and volcanic rocks
in the Nuussuaq Basin and at Cape Dyer, Canada (Rolle
1985; Nøhr-Hansen 1998; Nøhr-Hansen et al. 2000;
Chalmers et al. 2001b; Christiansen et al. 2001). Further-
more, seismic sequence studies have been carried out
in the southern West Greenland basins (Chalmers et al.
1993, 1995, 2001a; Chalmers & Pulvertaft 2001) and
these have been compared with the drilled successions
offshore Labrador (Balkwill 1987).
Of the five wells drilled in the 1970s, three penetrated
only Cenozoic sediments before terminating in Paleocene
basalts (Hellefisk-1, Nukik-2) or Precambrian basement
(Nukik-1). The Kangâmiut-1 well drilled through an
Eocene and younger, sand-dominated succession, then
Lower Eocene and Paleocene mudstones, below which
the well penetrated a coarse arkosic sand interleaved
with mudstone before terminating in Precambrian base-
ment. Only one well from the 1970s (Ikermiut-1) drilled
a significant section of pre-Cenozoic sediments, sampling
an 850 m mudstone section of Santonian­?Campanian
age (unpublished data, H. Nøhr-Hansen 2002) before
drilling was stopped. However, the well drilled in 2000
(Qulleq-1), also penetrated thick Campanian mudstones
below a Neogene and a thin Palaeogene succession,
and terminated in sandstones of Santonian age (Nøhr-
Hansen et al. 2000; Christiansen et al. 2001; Pegrum
et al. 2001).
The sediments forming the subject of this study lie
above a major, regional unconformity of Danian age.
The package is bounded above by an unconformity
that can be traced over the whole of the southern West
Greenland basin (Fig. 1; Chalmers et al. 2001a), here
referred to as the mid-Eocene unconformity. The sedi-
ments immediately above the mid-Eocene unconfor-
mity are of middle to late Lutetian age (Nøhr-Hansen
1998, 2001), which coincides with the time at which sea-
floor spreading slowed abruptly in the Labrador Sea
(magnetochrons 20­21; Roest & Srivastava 1989;
Chalmers & Pulvertaft 2001). The package of sediments
forming the subject of this report was thus deposited
during active sea-floor spreading in the Labrador Sea
between magnetochrons 27n and 20r.
90
A multidisciplinary study of the Palaeogene succession
offshore southern West Greenland
Finn Dalhoff, James A. Chalmers, Henrik Nøhr-Hansen, Jan A. Rasmussen, Emma Sheldon
and Ulrik Gregersen
Geology of Greenland Survey Bulletin 191, 90­96 (2002) © GEUS, 2002
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 90
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91
A
A'
Qulleq-1
Hellefisk-1
Ikermiut-1
Kangâmiut-1
Hecla
High
Maniitsoq
High
58
°
57
°
56
°
55
°
54
°
53
°
63
°
64
°
65
°
66
°
67
°
68
°
Da
vis Strait High/
Ik
ermiut Fault Zone
Erodedat`BaseQuaternary'
1500
1500
2500
2500
1500
1500
2000
2000
1500
1000
1000
1500
500
100 km
Limits of horizon
due to either erosion
or onlap
Depths in metres
below sea level
1500
NB
SB
SB
Nukik-1
Nukik-2
Mound
Syn-rift wedge
Fan complexes of late
Cretaceous age
Seismic grid
Nuussuaq Basin
Sisimiut Basin
Amplitudes indicating
turbidites on prograding
wedge
Greenland
NB
Fig. 1. Locality map showing the extent
of the investigated region and the
positions of the wells and the seismic
lines used to interpret the seismic
sequences in this study. The contours
show the depths in metres below sea
level to the mid-Eocene unconformity.
The described Paleocene to mid-Eocene
seismic sequences lie under this uncon-
formity, and their distribution shows the
maximum extent of the Paleocene to
mid-Eocene succession. The map also
indicates the distribution of seismic facies
representing possible hydrocarbon
reservoirs. Seismic line A­A' is shown in
Fig. 2.
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Seismic interpretation
The grid of seismic reflection data used in this inter-
pretation is shown in Fig. 1. The data are all multi-
channel lines, acquired in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1995,
with the addition of some reprocessed regional lines
acquired in 1977. Twenty-nine seismic sequences have
been recognised within the studied sediment package,
and these seismic sequences have been grouped into
11 third-order depositional sequences (Chalmers et al.
2001a). The seismic stratigraphic interpretations have
been used to infer two distinct episodes of tectonism.
During the Late Paleocene, coinciding with the stage
of sea-floor spreading in the Labrador Sea between
magnetochrons 27 and 25, tectonism was predomi-
nantly extensional. During the Early to Middle Eocene,
extension continued in most of the region, but became
transpressional along the Ikermiut Fault Zone. Major tec-
tonism ceased during the Middle Eocene at the same
time as sea-floor spreading in the Labrador Sea slowed
substantially (Chalmers et al. 2001a).
A seismic sequence has been identified that is equiv-
alent in age to the sediments that include the Marraat
source rock in the Nuussuaq Basin (Bojesen-Koefoed
et al. 1999). If this seismic sequence also includes a
source rock facies, it will be mature for oil generation
in the region between the Maniitsoq High and the
Kangâmiut-1 well (Chalmers et al. 2001a).
In the distal parts of many of the seismic sequences,
it is possible to recognise and map discrete seismic facies
interpreted as basin-floor fans, syn-tectonic wedges and
turbidite channel complexes that could act as hydro-
92
SS250
SS100SS150
SS500
SS2500
SS3000
SS4500
SS4000
SS3750
SS3600
SS5000
SS6000
SS10000
SS2000
SS1000
SS3500
SS9000
SS7500
SS7750
SS8000
SS7000
SS8250
SS8500
SS9500
'Mid-Eocene unconformity'
Quaternary
Quaternary
Sea bed
0
1000
2000
3000
4000
5000 S.P.
GGU/92-03
500
1000
1500
TWT (msec)
TWT (msec)
2000
Brackish to inner neritic palaeoecology
2500
Sea bed
0
1000
2000
3000
20 km
4000
5000 S.P.
500
1000
1500
2000
2500
Neritic to bathyal palaeoecology
Mounded mass flows ­ possibly slumps or basin floor fans
Mass flows ­ possibly turbidites
Offlap break
N
S
A
A'
Fig. 2. North­south seismic line GGU/92-03 across the Sisimiut Basin showing the maximum thickness of the seismic
sequences. This line illustrates many of the relationships between the seismic sequences, their internal seismic facies and
interpretation of palaeoenvironments. For location, see Fig. 1.
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 92
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carbon reservoirs, sealed by surrounding mudstone
(Figs 1, 2). Based on thickness variation throughout the
basin it is suggested that sediment input was dominantly
from the north, probably representing a continuation of
the Cretaceous drainage system from the Nuussuaq
Basin, as described by Pedersen & Pulvertaft (1992).
Lesser amounts of sediments came from the mainland
of Greenland to the east and minor amounts from highs
to the west. The sediments were deposited in environ-
ments that ranged from freshwater/marginal marine to
upper bathyal. Proximal environments are probably gen-
erally sand-prone, whereas distal environments proba-
bly contain larger amounts of mud, some of which could
contain a mature source rock for oil.
Well log interpretation
Sedimentological and palaeoenvironmental interpreta-
tions are based on well log interpretation, cuttings and
sidewall core descriptions, and palynological and micro-
fossil studies. A lithostratigraphic and biostratigraphic
correlation of the five wells from the 1970s offshore West
Greenland has been achieved and a log panel display-
ing correlation of the palyno- and microfossil zonation
and seismic sequences is presented here (Fig. 3). Sixteen
sequences have been described and dated using log
motifs, lithology, microfossils and palynomorphs, and a
depositional environment has been suggested for each.
The sediments are predominantly sandstones in the
basin-marginal wells (Hellefisk-1, Nukik-1, Nukik-2) and
shales in the basin-centre wells (Ikermiut-1, Kangâmiut-1).
Based on the re-interpretation of the log data, the
sand/shale ratio and facies distributions have been mod-
ified from that presented by Rolle (1985). Most of the
Palaeogene sediments in Hellefisk-1, Nukik-1, and to a
certain degree Nukik-2, were deposited in a littoral to
inner neritic environment, whereas most Palaeogene sedi-
ments in Kangâmiut-1 and Ikermiut-1 were deposited
in an outer neritic to bathyal turbiditic environment
(Dalhoff et al. 2001).
Biostratigraphy
A new Palaeogene dinoflagellate cyst stratigraphy from
offshore West Greenland has been described based on
data from the Hellefisk-1, Ikermiut-1, Kangâmiut-1,
Nukik-1, Nukik-2 and Qulleq-1 wells (Nøhr-Hansen
2001). The dinoflagellate cyst stratigraphy has been cor-
related with the microfossil zonation and previously
established zonations in the North Sea. Twenty-one
stratigraphic intervals are defined from the upper Lower
Paleocene to the Upper Eocene. The stratigraphy and
well correlation are based on last appearance datum
events and abundances of stratigraphically important
species from 355 samples, 148 of which are sidewall
core samples.
A nannofossil study has been carried out in the
Kangâmiut-1 and Nukik-2 wells (Sheldon 2001). The
stratigraphy has been correlated with previously estab-
lished nannofossil zonation schemes and, where possi-
ble, used to indicate palaeoenvironmental changes during
the Early and Middle Eocene. The stratigraphy and dat-
ing are based on stratigraphically important species, and
palaeoenvironmental signals are based on species
influxes. A total of 69 samples (26 sidewall cores and
43 ditch cuttings samples) were examined and com-
pared with findings from nearby DSDP and ODP sites.
A microfossil-based biostratigraphy of the Paleocene
and Lower Eocene sediments of the Hellefisk-1,
Ikermiut-1, Kangâmiut-1, Nukik-1 and Nukik-2 wells has
been established (Rasmussen & Sheldon 2001). In gen-
eral, the five wells contain fairly well-preserved, diverse
microfossil faunas and floras consisting mainly of
foraminifera, radiolaria, ostracods, bivalves and fish
remains, together with diatom and palynomorph floras.
Nannofloras (mainly coccoliths) occur in relatively low
numbers (Sheldon 2001). The biozones are more easily
recognised in the two basinal wells (Ikermiut-1 and
Kangâmiut-1) than in the three more nearshore wells
(Nukik-1, Nukik-2 and Hellefisk-1) due to a higher
microfossil diversity and abundance.
The Middle Eocene and upper Lower Eocene inter-
vals of the Hellefisk-1 well in particular are poorly rep-
resented by microfauna, with samples often being barren
or only containing coal fragments.
Concluding remarks
The new interpretation of seismic and well data sug-
gests that an equivalent to the Marraat oil source rock
may be present ­ and mature ­ in large parts of the
Sisimiut Basin. The Marraat oil, one of the oils that have
been discovered seeping to the surface in the Nuussuaq
Basin, has been attributed to a source rock not older
than the latest Cretaceous (Bojesen-Koefoed et al. 1999).
The source rock appears to have been encountered in
the GRO#3 well (Christiansen et al. 1999), and this inter-
val is dated as belonging to the Early Paleocene (Nøhr-
Hansen et al. in press). Only the lower part of sequence
93
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 93
background image
SS500 and older seismic sequences are as old as this,
and the extent of an equivalent to the Marraat oil source
rock is restricted to the extent of SS500 (Chalmers et al.
2001a, figs 8, 31).
Acknowledgements
Funding of the multidisciplinary project Palaeogene southern
West Greenland was provided by the Danish Energy Research
Programme (ENS J.nr. 1313/99-0025) and by the Geological Survey
of Denmark and Greenland.
94
Hellefisk-1
mid-Eocene
unconformity
0
Lo
w
er Eocene
1350
1400
1450
1500
1550
1600
1650
1700
1750
1800
1850
1900
1950
2000
2100
2200
2300
2400
2000
1900
1800
1700
1600
1500
1400
1300
1950
1850
1750
1650
1550
1450
1350
1250
2500
2050
2150
2250
2350
2450
150
50
Sonic
100
Gamma Ray
0
150
50
Sonic
100
Gamma Ray
Pal
y Zones
MD (m)
TWT (ms)
Pal
y Zones
MD (m)
TWT (ms)
Middle
Eocene
E5
E5a
E2c
E3
E3a
E2
E2b
E2a
P6/E1?
P5
P4
3000
t. T.w.Z.
t. S.b.Z.
1000
5000
3500
t. P.o.Z.
t. O.Z.
t. F.a.­C.m.Z.
5250
5500
6000
5750
Upper Paleocene
Ikermiut-1
mid-Eocene
unconformity
t. Cd.­Cs.Z.
t. P.­o.Z.
3500
3000
1000
t. F.a. ­ C.m.Z
t. S.b..Z
3750
t. A.h.Z.
t. O.Z.
6000
5000
4000
1550
1650
1750
1850
1950
1800
1900
2000
2100
2200
2300
2400
2500
2550
2650
2750
2600
2700
2450
2050
2150
2250
2350
1600
1700
1550
1600
1650
1750
1850
1950
2000
2100
2200
2050
2150
2250
2350
2450
2500
2300
2400
1800
1900
1700
P5
P5a
P4
P5b
P6
E1
E2a
E2c
E6
Middle
Eocene
E2
Lo
w
er Eocene
Upper Paleocene
Upper
Santonian
Fig. 3. Log panel showing the correlation of the Palaeogene
succession in the five wells from offshore West Greenland
drilled in the 1970s. The seismic sequences are numbered
sequentially (500­10 000); the marine flooding surface within
sequence 3000 is used as the datum. It should be noticed that
some sequences are very local, especially above Sequence
6000 in the Kangâmiut-1 well. The crossing between the A.
hirtus Zone correlation line and the seismic sequence bound-
aries between Ikermiut-1 and Kangâmiut-1 may be explained
by a lower resolution of the former. The palynological
zonation adopted here is based on that of Bujak & Mudge
(1994) and Mudge & Bujak (1996a, b). Modified from Dalhoff
et al. (2001).
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 94
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mid-Eocene
unconf
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10000
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P6/E1?
P5
P6
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P2/P3a?
P5
P6
E2a
E2b
E2c
E3a
E3b
E3c
E4c
E6
E2
E3
E4
E1
Upper Paleocene
Lo
w
er Eocene
Upper Paleocene
U.
Paleocene
Lo
w
er Eocene
Lo
w
er Eocene
M.
Eocene
L.
Palaeocene
Turonian ­
L. Santonian
Shale
Sandstone
Limestone
Volcanic
Tuff
Acidic intrusive igneous rock
Lithology
Seismic sequence boundary
Maximum flooding surface
Micropalaeontological
correlation surface
Microfossil zonation:
t.Cd. ­ Cs.Z.: top Cenodiscus­Cenosphaera Zone
t.P.o.Z.: top P. ovata Zone
t.A.h.Z.: top A. hirtus Zone
t.O.Z.: top Ostracod Zone
t.F.a. ­ C.m.Z.: top F. antiqua ­ C. morsianus Zone
t.T.w.Z.: top T. wittana Zone
t.S.b.Z.: top S. beccariiformis Zone
t.P.w.Z.: top P. wilcoxensis Zone.
5000
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Authors' addresses
F.D., J.A.C., H.N.-H., J.A.R. & E.S., Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
E-mail: fd@geus.dk
U.G., Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum, Government of Greenland, P.O. Box 930, DK-3900 Nuuk, Greenland.
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