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Cratonic Basin Formation: A Case Study of the Parnaíba Basin, Brazil

Product Code: SP472
Series: GSL Special Publications
Author/Editor: Edited by M. C. Daly, R. A. Fuck, J. Julià, D. I. M. Macdonald and A. B. Watts
Publication Date: 04 December 2018
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Special Publication 472

Cratonic basins are large, distinctive features of the continental crust. They are preferentially developed on thick continental lithosphere, are typically sub-circular in shape and subside over periods of hundreds of millions of years. They are also endowed with significant resources. However, in spite of their location in continental interiors and often well-known geology, the subsidence driving mechanism and tectonic setting of these basins remains controversial.

This volume presents both lithospheric and basin scale datasets acquired specifically to interrogate the tectonic process of cratonic basin formation. Focused on the Silurian to Triassic Parnaíba cratonic basin of Brazil, the papers discuss the results of a multidisciplinary basin analysis project comprising new geophysical, geological and geochemical data. This unique dataset enables the characterization of the lithospheric crust and mantle beneath the Parnaíba Basin, constrains the detailed evolution of the basin itself, and enables comparisons with cratonic basins globally. Several convergent themes emerge providing new and powerful constraints for models of the driving mechanisms of these enigmatic basins.

Published online 14/11/2018. Print copies available from 03/12/2018.

Type: Book
Ten Digit ISBN:
Thirteen Digit ISBN: 978-1-78620-396-0
Publisher: GSL
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 384
Weight: 1 kg



Daly, M. C., Fuck, R. A., Julià, J., Macdonald, D. I. M. & Watts, A. B. Cratonic basin formation: a case study of the Parnaíba Basin of Brazil

Cratonic basins

Sleep, N. H. Cratonic basins with reference to the Michigan basin

McKenzie, D. & Rodríguez Tribaldos, V. Lithospheric heating by crustal thickening: a possible origin of the Parnaíba Basin

Watts, A. B., Tozer, B., Daly, M. C. & Smith, J. A comparative study of the Parnaíba, Michigan and Congo cratonic basins

The Parnaíba cratonic basin: lithospheric and crustal structure

Soares, J. E. P., Stephenson, R., Fuck, R. A., de Lima, M. V. A. G., de Araújo, V. C. M., Lima, F. T., Rocha, F. A. S. & da Trindade, C. R. Structure of the crust and upper mantle beneath the Parnaíba Basin, Brazil, from wide-angle reflection–refraction data

Coelho, D. L. O., Julià, J., Rodríguez-Tribaldos, V. & White, N. Deep crustal architecture of the Parnaíba basin of NE Brazil from receiver function analysis: implications for basin subsidence

Manenti, R. R., Souza, W. E. & Porsani, M. J. Reprocessing and interpretation of deep structures in a regional transect of the Parnaíba Basin, Brazil

Solon, F. F., Fontes, S. L. & La Terra, E. F. Electrical conductivity structure across the Parnaíba Basin, NE Brazil

Porto, A., Daly, M. C., La Terra, E. & Fontes, S. The pre-Silurian Riachão basin: a new perspective on the basement of the Parnaíba basin, NE Brazil

Rodríguez Tribaldos, V. & White, N. Implications of preliminary subsidence analyses for the Parnaíba cratonic basin

The Parnaíba cratonic basin: stratigraphic and sedimentological evolution

Menzies, L. A., Carter, A. & Macdonald, D. I. M. Evolution of a cratonic basin: insights from the stratal architecture and provenance history of the Parnaíba Basin

Hollanda, M. H. B. M., Góes, A. M. & Negri, F. A. Provenance of sandstones in the Parnaíba Basin through detrital zircon geochronology

Jaju, M. M., Mort, H. P., Nader, F. H., Filho, M. L. & Macdonald, D. I. M. Palaeogeographical and palaeoclimatic evolution of the intracratonic Parnaíba Basin, NE Brazil using GPlates plate tectonic reconstructions and chemostratigraphic tools

Iannuzzi, R., Neregato, R., Cisneros, J. C., Angielczyk, K. D., Rößler, R., Rohn, R., Marsicano, C., Fröbisch, J., Fairchild, T., Smith, R. M. H., Kurzawe, F., Richter, M., Langer, M. C., Tavares, T. M. V., Kammerer, C. F., Conceição, D. M., Pardo, J. D. & Roesler, G. A. Re-evaluation of the Permian macrofossils from the Parnaíba Basin: biostratigraphic, palaeoenvironmental and palaeogeographical implications

The Parnaíba cratonic basin: magmatic history

Heilbron, M., Guedes, E., Mane, M., Valeriano, C. de M., Tupinambá, M., Almeida, J., Silva, L. G. do E., Paschoal Duarte, B., Favera, J. C. D. & Viana, A. Geochemical and temporal provinciality of the magmatism of the eastern Parnaíba Basin, NE Brazil

Oliveira, A. L., Pimentel, M. M., Fuck, R.A. & Oliveira, D. C. Petrology of Jurassic and Cretaceous basaltic formations from the Parnaíba Basin, NE Brazil: correlations and associations with large igneous provinces

Klöcking, M., White, N. & MacLennan, J. Role of basaltic magmatism within the Parnaíba cratonic basin, NE Brazil

Trosdtorf, I. Jr, Neto, J. M. M., Santos, S. F., Portela Filho, C. V., Dall Oglio, T. A., Galves, A. C. M. & Silva, A. M. Phanerozoic magmatism in the Parnaíba Basin: characterization of igneous bodies (well logs and 2D seismic sections), geometry, distribution and sill emplacement patterns

The Parnaíba cratonic basin: resource system

de Miranda, F. S., Vettorazzi, A. L., Cunha, P. R. da C., Aragão, F. B., Michelon, D., Caldeira, J. L., Porsche, E., Martins, C., Ribeiro, R. B., Vilela, A. F., Corrêa, J. R., Silveira, L. S. & Andreola, K. Atypical igneous-sedimentary petroleum systems of the Parnaíba Basin, Brazil: seismic, well logs and cores

Abelha, M., Petersohn, E., Bastos, G. & Araújo, D. New insights into the Parnaíba Basin: results of investments by the Brazilian National Petroleum Agency



Tony Dore

Cratonic basins—those large, roughly circular shallow depressions in the middle of continents—are one of the great unsolved mysteries of global tectonics. Why do they form and what drives their subsidence? While passive margin development is being endlessly fine-tuned using sophisticated 3D seismic datasets, cratonic basins in contrast have defied satisfactory explanation, despite covering about 10% of the world’s land area and housing significant petroleum and mineral resources. This book on Brazil’s Parnaiba Basin goes a long way towards redressing this balance.

The problem isn’t a lack of data. Many cratonic basins, for example the Williston and Michigan basins in the USA, are peppered with tens of thousands of petroleum industry wells and have been extensively studied in the field. The issue is that these data are often very specific and focused. Deep crustal and lithospheric information is scant, not least because basins of this type are characterized by very thick, cratonic-type crust and lithosphere, but also because such data have not been considered commercially relevant.

Daly and his colleagues tackle this problem head-on by assembling a consortium consisting of BP and several Brazilian and British Universities—the Parnaiba Basin Analysis Project (PBAP)—with the intention of dissecting a cratonic basin systematically from top to bottom. The result is a collection of 20 papers with comprehensive coverage including deep-lithospheric imaging and modelling, sedimentary history and architecture, magmatic history and petroleum systems. All topics are skilfully woven together in a useful introduction by the editors.

A particularly attractive aspect is that many of the papers make comparisons with other global cratonic basins in the search for common factors. It turns out there are many. Generally, the basins are geographically extensive, bowl-shaped, contain modest sedimentary thicknesses (circa 6 km) and seem to have formed and subsided in the Palaeozoic, during or just after continental consolidation. The relationship of these basins to supercontinent formation is a recurring theme, one I believe will be built upon in the coming years.

There is a lot more that should be said about this book than is possible in this short review. Cratonic basins are going to intrigue and confound us for a while yet, but this book is a substantial step in the right direction. Importantly, it also brings these somewhat neglected basins into the geological limelight where they belong. I don’t think there is another collection remotely like this one. There are other works on specific cratonic basins, but none as generic, as well-integrated and as comprehensive.

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