Application of a source-to-sink sediment model to a petroleum systems analysis from field studies and numerical modeling (part of the PAGEO research program)

This project will test the application of a source to sink analysis to the prediction of petroleum system elements in the Scotia Basin. The concept of source to sink captures many of the geological factors that influence petroleum system elements, describing the distribution of source rocks, reservoirs and seals, and is particularly important in frontier basins where data are sparse. In a source to sink analysis, sediment volumes are described and tracked from generation in the headwaters of a continental drainage basin to deposition on a continental margin or in the ocean. Analysis will focus on Jurassic and Cretaceous formations of the Nova Scotia margin and the Scotia Basin through the integration of field data with quantitative numerical models. Elements of the project will: (1) Model the tectonic development of the Nova Scotia margin and the Scotia Basin.  Field data from wells and seismic profiles will be integrated with numerical isostatic models to describe the uplift of the basin margins (as a source of sediment) and subsidence of basins (accommodation space for sediment). (2) Model the delivery of sediment to the Nova Scotia margin, applying landscape evolution models to estimate sediment flux, grain size and, if possible, identify point sources of sediment input to the margin. (3) Model sedimentation from the shallow water platform to deep water, integrating field data from wells and seismic profiles with quantitative basin sedimentation models, to describe the occurrence of source rocks, seals and reservoirs. The approach will will systematically integrate field data with numerical models and integrate different disciplines to obtain sound predictions. The analysis will be iterative, with ongoing interactions between the researchers in the different disciplines and iterations of model runs as model results are compared to field data.

This project will provide a quantitative source-to-sink analysis of the Jurassic and Cretaceous formations of the Nova Scotia margin and Scotia Basin.  The research will predict the spatial and stratigraphic distribution of several key petroleum system elements within key Jurassic and Cretaceous sections: (1) source rocks; (2) reservoir formations; (3) seals; and (4) stratigraphic traps / hybrid structural-stratigraphic traps. The research will integrate analysis of field data with numerical modeling to construct process-base predictive models.


  • Interpreted maps of time intervals in the Jurassic – Cretaceous section, showing sediment distribution patterns, petroleum system elements and tectonic features, in digital format.
  • Interpreted cross-sections and seismic lines showing sediment distribution patterns, highlighting petroleum system elements and tectonic features, in digital format.
  • Results of stratigraphic model simulations, highlighting key petroleum system elements, including a range of simulations results as a function of input parameters (with associated probabilities).
  • Text providing descriptions of methods, interpretation, results and implications.
  • Identification of critical unknowns in analysis of the tectonic and stratigraphic evolution of the Scotia Basin.
  • Assessment of petroleum system risks.

Principal Investigators: Nicholas Harris, Octavian Catuneanu, Clare Currie, Elena Konstantinovskaya, John Waldron, University of Alberta, Canada; Albert Kettner, Greg Tucker, University of Colorado, USA; Mark Cooper, Sherwood Geoconsulting, Calgary, Canada

January 2021 – March 2023