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U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 02-483

Map and Digital Database of Sedimentary Basins and Indications of Petroleum in the Central Alaska Province

By Sandra M. Troutman and Richard G. Stanley


This publication was superseded in 2003 by Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-2428

Location of the Central Province of Alaska

Explanatory Notes

This map and the accompanying digital database show sedimentary basins (Kirschner, 1988) and reported occurrences of petroleum in wells and natural seeps in central Alaska. The map and database were prepared for use in a U.S. Geological Survey assessment of undiscovered petroleum resources.

Sedimentary basins and selected geologic features of regional importance were taken from the map of Kirschner (1988), with minor modifications in some cases. The primary source of information on seeps and older (pre-1959) wells was the report of Miller and others (1959). Additional information on seeps and wells was acquired from the published literature, public records available at the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Alaska Geologic Materials Center, and unpublished documents provided by companies and individuals.

Seventy six localities are depicted on the map and described in table 1 on the map. Most of the localities are within the boundary of the Central Alaska Province as defined by the 1995 National Assessment of United States Oil and Gas Resources (U.S. Geological Survey, 1995, p. 3), but the map also includes: (1) 2 localities that occur north of the Central Alaska Province boundary in the uplands near Yukon Flats; and (2) several exploratory wells that were drilled west of the Central Alaska Province boundary in the offshore Norton basin. Also shown on the map are oil and gas fields in the Cook Inlet region. Not displayed on this map, but described by Miller and others (1959) and other published sources, are numerous hydrocarbon seeps and wells in southern and northern Alaska and adjacent parts of Canada.

The 76 localities depicted on this map include 3 wells with oil shows, 18 wells with gas shows, and 9 wells with no oil or gas shows. Outcrops of oil shale and (or) oil-bearing rocks have been reported at 14 localities. The 76 localities also include 29 accounts of oil seeps and 3 accounts of gas seeps. Of these, investigations by the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the existence of 1 gas seep and concluded that reports of 16 oil seeps and 1 gas seep are doubtful or disproved. The remaining reports of 13 oil seeps and 1 gas seep are neither confirmed nor refuted and require additional study.

Seeps of oil and gas are among the most useful indicators of the possible existence of nearby, buried accumulations of petroleum. However, not all reports of oil and gas seeps are reliable. In many cases, people have mistaken iron stains, mineral salts (including iron oxide scums), coal tar, and living organic material for oil seeps (Miller and others, 1959; Martin, 1923). Some of the reported seeps may be practical jokes or deliberate deceptions. Also, many oil and gas seeps are ephemeral, and a seep that was observed and reported years ago may be inactive today.

No commercial petroleum production has been obtained from central Alaska, in contrast to the prolific deposits of oil and gas that have been found and commercially developed in northern Alaska and the Cook Inlet region. Nevertheless, confirmed indications of petroleum in central Alaska include: (1)gas in seeps and wells in the Norton basin; (2) oil shale and numerous occurrences of bitumen in Precambrian to Mesozoic rocks in the Kandik area and the uplands near the Yukon Flats basin; (3) gas in Miocene coal-bearing strata in a core hole at Fort Yukon in the Yukon Flats basin; (4) gas in wells that penetrate Tertiary coal-bearing strata in the Nenana basin; (5) gas in water wells and test holes in the Fairbanks area; (6) gas in exploratory wells, seismic shot holes, and a water well in the Kotzebue basin; (7) gas in Quaternary deposits in shallow wells in the Northway lowlands; and (8) gas in an exploratory well in the Bethel basin.

The scattered distribution of confirmed oil and gas occurrences implies that active and (or) formerly active petroleum systems are present in some parts of central Alaska, most notably in certain Tertiary sedimentary basins. However, much remains to be learned about the geology, organic geochemistry and petroleum resource potential of these systems.

Download a PDF version of the map (20.2 MB)

Files Available for Download
File Name
File Size
Digital Database Files
interior_iop.e00 Point coverage of indications of petroleum in central Alaska
48 KB
seds_basins.e00 Polygon coverage of sedimentary basins in Alaska
3.3 MB
faults.e00 Line coverage of major faults and geologic structures in Alaska
536 KB
Associated Files
IOP_Readme.txt Text file explaining how to use the digital database
12 KB
seds_basins_metadata.txt FGDC-compliant metadata for sedimentary basins coverage  
faults_metadata.txt FGDC-compliant metadata for fault coverage
28 KB
of02-483meta.txt FGDC-compliant metadata for the database
28 KB
IOP_catalog.txt Text file containing table of petroleum indications, as seen in the PDF file of the map
36 KB
IOP_explan_notes.txt Text file containing explanatory notes, seen above and in the PDF file of the map
12 KB

For questions about the content of this report, contact Sandra Troutman

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Created: January 3, 2003 (cad)
Updated: November 16, 2006 (bwr, mfd)