SCIENCE CHINA Earth Sciences, Volume 63 , Issue 6 : 808-821(2020) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-019-9556-8

Quantitative reconstruction of formation paleo-pressure in sedimentary basins and case studies

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  • ReceivedMay 28, 2019
  • AcceptedNov 21, 2019
  • PublishedFeb 28, 2020



the National Natural Science Foundation of China(Grant,No.,41830424,41125010)

the National Science and Technology Major Project(Grant,No.,2016ZX05007003-005)

Beijing Science and Technology New Star and Leading Talent Training Program(Grant,No.,Z171100001117163)


We gratefully acknowledge the help and inspiration from Dr. Li jian, Dr. Xie Zengye and Dr. Li Huili. Many thanks to the Sinopec Northwest Oil Company, PetroChina Southwest Oil & Gas Field Company, and Petrochina Changqing Oilfield Company for providing samples and geologic data. Thank the reviewers for their constructive comments on this article. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41830424, 41125010), the National Science and Technology Major Project (Grant No. 2016ZX05007003-005) and Beijing Science and Technology New Star and Leading Talent Training Program (Grant No. Z171100001117163).


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  • Figure 1

    Pressure evolution of reservoirs with different initial fluids during methane charging (Liu et al., 2013). Formation temperature is 95°C and initial pressure is 40 MPa.

  • Figure 2

    The relationship between sonic transit time and the effective stress in the Central Paleo-Uplift in the Sichuan Basin (from Liu et al., 2015).

  • Figure 3

    The flowchart for paleo pressure reconstruction.

  • Figure 4

    Synthetic analysis of the origins of overpressures in the Sinian Dengying Formation (Z2d) in Well 117, Sichuan Basin. The negative pressure represents decrease in pressure. Trapping pressure of fluid inclusions were calculated using PVTsim software.

  • Figure 5

    Burial and thermal histories of Well Su16 in the Sulige Gas Field, and the trapping timing of hydrocarbon inclusions.

  • Figure 6

    Evolution of pressure in the Lower Shihezi Formation in Well Su16 reconstructed by fluid-compaction modelling. The black dot is the trapping pressure (29 MPa) of fluid inclusions.

  • Figure 7

    Evolution of the residual pressure in the Yingshan Formaion in Well SN501 during the tectonic deformation.

  • Figure 8

    Pressure evolution of the Ordovician Yingshan Formation in Well SN501, Tarim Basin. (a) Burial and thermal histories; (b) pressure evolution; (c) contributions of tectonic compression and gas charging.

  • Figure 9

    Relations of porosity with temperature and pressure in the Sinian Dengying reservoirs in the Central Sichuan Basin.

  • Table 1   Problems of different paleo-pressure reconstruction methods

    Paleo-pressure reconstruction methods


    Thermodynamic Simulation Method of Fluid Inclusions

    It is necessary to ensure the accuracy of the inclusion composition and gas: liquid ratio.It is not possible to simulate the continuous evolution of paleo-pressure duringgeological history, but only at a single point time.

    Laser Raman Spectrometry of Fluid Inclusions

    A fluid standard spectrogram library for comparison has not yet been established.

    Differential Stress

    High sample requirements, large reconstruction scale, and many error factors.

    Basin Modelling

    Considering the formation pressure mechanism is simple but not suitable for highlycomplex processes.

    Seismic Wave Velocity

    Only a single pressurization factor is considered, so the lithology of heterogeneous formationis simplified, which affects the accuracy of formation pressure calculations. This method is based on the mudstone disequilibrium compaction model, so it is not suitable for carbonate formation.

    Equivalent Depth


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