The crustal structure of the Sahel Basin (eastern Tunisia) determined from gravity and geothermal gradients: implications for petroleum exploration


An analysis of Bouguer gravity anomaly data and geothermal gradient data obtained from bottom hole and drill stem tests temperature is used to determine the crustal structure of the Sahel Basin in eastern Tunisia and its role in the maturation and location of the large number of oil and gas fields in the region. The regional Bouguer gravity anomaly field is dominated by gradual increase in values from the northwest to southeast and is may be caused by crustal thinning as revealed by regional seismic studies. In addition, higher geothermal gradients in the same region as the Bouguer gravity anomaly maximum add an additional constraint for the existence of crustal thinning in the region. A detailed analysis of the Bouguer gravity anomaly data was performed by both upward continuation and horizontal gradients. These two techniques were combined to show that the study area consists of two structural regions: (1) the North–South Axis (NOSA)–Zeramedine region which is characterized by northwest-dipping, northeast-striking faults, thicker crust (30–31 km) and low geothermal gradients, and (2) the Mahres–Kerkennah region which is characterized by vertical, northwest-striking faults, thinner crust (28–29 km) and higher geothermal gradients. The correlation of a variety of features includes mapped and geophysically defined faults, volcanic rocks, a thinned crust and high geothermal gradients within the same location as known oil and gas fields indicate that the faults are a major factor in the location of these petroleum accumulations.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Document Type





Tunisia, Sahel basin, gravity anomalies, geothermal gradients, oil and gas

Publication Date


Journal Title

Arabian Journal of Geosciences