Geology and Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the East Greenland Rift Basins Province, 2008

Professional Paper 1824-K
Edited by: Thomas E. Moore and Donald L. Gautier



In 2007 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed an assessment of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in the East Greenland Rift Basins Province of Northeast Greenland. The province was selected as the prototype for the U.S. Geological Survey Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal (CARA). In collaboration with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), the province was subdivided into nine geologically distinctive areas. Seven of these were defined as Assessment Units (AUs), of which five were quantitatively assessed. These are: North Danmarkshavn Salt Basin, South Danmarkshavn Basin, Thetis Basin, Northeast Greenland Volcanic Province, and Liverpool Land Basin. Jameson Land Basin and the Jameson Land Basin Subvolcanic Extension were defined as AUs but were not quantitatively assessed. 

Onshore studies by GEUS and other organizations suggest that at least four stratigraphic intervals may contain potential source rocks for petroleum. The geological history of related areas in western Norway and burial history modeling suggest that Upper Jurassic strata are most likely to contain petroleum source rocks. A wide variety of possible trapping mechanisms are expected within the province. Potential traps in the North Danmarkshavn Salt Basin AU are dominated by structures formed through salt tectonics; those in the South Danmarkshavn Basin and the Northeast Greenland Volcanic Province are characterized by extensional structures and by stratigraphic traps in submarine fan complexes. Prospective inversion structures of Tertiary age are present along the western margin of South Danmarkshavn Basin AU, and the large horst block structures that separate the Danmarkshavn and Thetis Basins may provide numerous opportunities for traps in fault blocks and along various facies-related permeability barriers. Possible reservoirs include shallow marine to nonmarine sandstones of Middle Jurassic age, sandstones in Upper Jurassic synrift deposits, Cretaceous sandstones in submarine fan complexes, sandstones in Paleogene progradational sequences, and in Upper Carboniferous to Lower Permian warm-water carbonate sequences, especially in northern Danmarkshavn Basin. Marine shales are expected to provide the main sealing lithologies in most AUs. 

Most of the undiscovered oil, gas, and natural gas liquids are likely to be in the offshore areas of the province and are inferred to belong to an Upper Jurassic Composite Total Petroleum System. The USGS estimated that the East Greenland Rift Basins Province contains approximately (mean) 31,400 million barrels oil equivalent (MMBOE) of oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids. Of the five assessed AUs, North Danmarkshavn Salt Basin and the South Danmarkshavn Basin are estimated to contain most of the undiscovered petroleum.

Suggested Citation

Gautier, D.L., 2019, Geology and assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources of the East Greenland Rift Basins Province, 2008, chap. K of Moore, T.E., and Gautier, D.L., eds., The 2008 Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1824, 20 p.,

ISSN: 2330-7102 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction and Province Description
  • Petroleum System Elements
  • Burial History Modeling
  • Summary of Province Assessment Results
  • Results
  • References Cited
  • Appendixes

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Geology and assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources of the East Greenland Rift Basins Province, 2008
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 1824
Chapter K
DOI 10.3133/pp1824K
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Energy Resources Program, Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description Report: vii, 20 p.; Appendices 1-7
Country Greenland
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details