Hydrocarbon resource assessment project

Tectonic history of the Jan Mayen Ridge. Collage based on results of many research publications (since the 1970´s) and observations at the JMMC.The Iceland GeoSurvey is providing geoscientific support and advice to the Icelandic government during their preparation, issuing and maintenance of Iceland’s offshore hydrocarbon exploration licenses. This hydrocarbon resource assessment project work involves:

  1. Construction of a geo-database suitable for the exploration license activities, with a special focus on seafloor and subsurface geophysical, geological, geochemical data that support the hydrocarbon exploration project work. This database has been used to publish and to provide access to information about data pertaining to the Icelandic Continental Shelf. Open the Continental Shelf Portal.
  2. Ascertain the prospectivity for the Dreki area in form of an integrated study of the Jan Mayen Micro-Continent (JMMC) and its southern continuation into the north-eastern Iceland Plateau, using sub-surface multi-channel reflection and refraction seismic sequence stratigraphy and tectonic research, including basin and petroleum systems analysis. 
  3. Ascertain the prospectivity for the Dreki area in form of an integrated study of the Jan Mayen Micro-Continent (JMMC) and its southern continuation into the north-eastern Iceland Plateau, using sub-surface multi-channel reflection and refraction seismic sequence stratigraphy and tectonic research, including basin and petroleum systems analysis. 
  4. Assist with licensee technical questions and interpretation reviews to enable the Icelandic government to form an independent view of ongoing work and decision making.
  5. Maintain and develop international and industry collaborations to enhance the understanding and working methods that involve the exploration efforts in this complex area, such as the Jan Mayen micro-continent.

Hydrocarbon exploration and research of the Jan Mayen Micro-continent

Areas of northeast Iceland, the Jan Mayen Ridge and the Dreki licensing area, as well as from areas to the east and southeast of Iceland.The geological history of the Jan Mayen area can be interpreted through geophysical, geological and geochemical data, providing clues to potential areas for hydrocarbon exploration.

The Jan Mayen micro-continent is viewed as a segment of continental crust that was gradually separated first during the Late Paleocene and Early Eocene from the continental shelf of Norway, and secondly during the Late Oligocene and Early Miocene from the central East Greenland shelf during at those times active rifting and oceanic spreading processes, thus becoming isolated and surrounded by newly created oceanic crust in the middle of the Northeast Atlantic. This process occurred in parallel with the gradual emergence of Iceland and its surrounding insular shelf since the Early Miocene.

The micro-continents eastern margin developed originally as the outermost part of the continental shelf of central East Greenland being influenced by the processes of the initial breakup time between the Eurasian and North American plate, which resulted in the opening of the Norway Basin. This process formed eastward thickening sequences of regional extensive sediment and lava flows that cover the pre-existing continental structures of the Mesozoic and Palaeozoic. During the second break up time formed the western margin of the micro-continent, resulting in rifting structures and small Tertiary basin developments in between the western margin of the Jan Mayen Ridge area and the central East Greenland continental shelf, completely being separated by seafloor spreading on the Iceland  Plateau that later formed the Kolbeinsey Ridge system. The western margin is characterized by listric faulting and severely tilted extensional fault blocks, intersected by extensive complexes of sill and dyke intrusions, and regional extensive lava flows that cover the newly formed Tertiary basin areas.

The integrated study of the Jan Mayen micro-continent has revealed that the Jan Mayen Ridges formed a segment of continental crust, and does best compare to the analogue margins of central East Greenland coast of the Jameson Land Basin area, and the Norwegian western margin of the Møre Basin area. It could be ascertained that post Paleocene sedimentary rocks of sufficient thickness and age are present as potential reservoir formations. Strong indications have been found of pre-opening sedimentary strata of possibly Paleozoic, Triassic-Jurrasic and maybe Cretaceous age, primarily located underneath the west flank areas and the central regions of the Jan Mayen ridge. This leads to potential reservoir rock assumptions, focusing on locally shallow marine to generally marine deposits, especially submarine fans/turbidites for post Paleocene deposits, and possibly focus on limestone platform to continental deposits for the pre-opening formations. Very important is the existence of potential traps present, both structural and stratigraphic, that can be found in many variations in the subsurface data for the exploration area, which also give conclusions in regards to hydrocarbon maturation that is probably high, if sufficient source rocks are present. Deep-seated formations that probably have been more affected by volcanic activity and heat flow, are more likely to contain natural gas, whereas the shallower slope areas are considered to be within the oil expulsion window.

Even though the exploration area is still missing direct evidence from a deep stratigraphic borehole, have seafloor samples given indications that pre-Tertiary strata is present below the Paleocene lava formations, in form of a Jurassic oil seep in the vicinity of one of the large fault zones, which is encouraging evidence of possible hydrocarbon system in the area.

The Iceland GeoSurvey will continue its exploration work, in cooperation with the University of Iceland and other European geological surveys, institutes, and universities in Norway, Denmark-Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the United Kingdom, to unlock the mystery of the Jan Mayen micro-continent by increasing the understanding of its structural and stratigraphic development through time, and its role as a possible new hydrocarbon province.