Aims & objectives:

  • To provide new constraints on regional thermal history in the Sverdrup Basin through analysis of new well samples using apatite fission track analysis (AFTA) and vitrinite reflectance (VR)
  • To determine the timing of hydrocarbon maturation and possible re-migration during the late Paleozoic Ellesmerian and Tertiary Eurekan Orogenies.

Cost and availability:

This will be a non-exclusive study. A single company purchase will be US$60,000.


Apatite fission track analysis of selected wells from the central and western Sverdrup Basin undertaken for the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) by the Dalhousie University Fission Track Research Laboratory in the 1990s provided a preliminary understanding of regional basin thermal history trends. Additional well and outcrop samples from the eastern Sverdrup Basin were analysed subsequently as part of a Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Strategic Grant to Dalhousie University (Arne et al. 1998, Can. J. Earth Sci., 35, 30-38 & 2002, Basin Research, 14, 183-205). New vitrinite reflectance (VR) data were also obtained for both well and outcrop samples. Results of these studies are dominated by Tertiary (Eurekan) cooling. Since these early studies, significant advances have taken place in AFTA technology, including a detailed understanding of the influence of apatite composition on fission track annealing rates and the advent of new methods for extracting thermal history information. In the initial studies, thermal history modelling was limited to rapidly cooled samples. However, a more sophisticated analysis of new data from the central and western Sverdrup Basin will provide a detailed thermal history framework for understanding the history of hydrocarbon generation in the Sverdrup Basin. Possible outcomes include definition of pre-Tertiary episodes, as well as possibly defining multiple episodes of Tertiary cooling which could be of importance for understanding re-migration of hydrocarbons.

Proposed work:

  1. Sampling of 8 new wells, at least four of which will come from known hydrocarbon fields, for AFTA and VR. Final selection of additional wells to sample will be undertaken in conjunction with project sponsors, and is subject to approval by the National Energy Board of Canada. Depending on interest, additional new wells could be included.
  2. Reassessment of the regional thermal history based on AFTA & VR data, and integration with existing organic maturation and thermal maturity indicators from the GSC.
  3. Synthesis of thermal history results and regional tectonic evolution, with discussion of the implications for hydrocarbon prospectivity.

Deliverables & timeframe:

Results will be presented in a new Geotrack Report, with all data presented in Appendices. Delivery of the final report will be end of 2009.


The results of the study will allow mapping of the influence of variation in source rock thermal histories on hydrocarbon prospectivity across the Sverdrup Basin, allowing definition of more prospective areas where peak source rock maturation occurred after formation of structures.

The thermal history solutions from AFTA and VR also provide rigorous constraints for basin modelling, enabling more reliable and accurate prediction of patterns of hydrocarbon occurrence (although this is not included in this study).

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