Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 June 2018
Palaeogeography is the representation of the past surface of the Earth. It provides the spatial context for investigating how the Earth evolves through time, how complex processes interact and the juxtaposition of spatial information. In hydrocarbon exploration, palaeogeographies have been used to map and investigate the juxtaposition, distribution and quality of play elements (source, reservoir, seal and trap), as boundary conditions for source-to-sink analysis, climate modelling and lithofacies retrodiction, but most commonly as the backdrop for presentations and montages. This paper demonstrates how palaeogeography has been and can be used within an exploration workflow to help mitigate exploration risk. A comprehensive workflow for building palaeogeographies is described which is designed to provide a standard approach that can be applied to a range of tasks in exploration and academia. This is drawn from an analysis of the history of palaeogeography and how it has been applied to exploration in the past and why. Map applications, resolution and content depend on where in the exploration and production (E&P) cycle the map is used. This is illustrated here through three case studies, from the strategic decisions of global new ventures exploration to the more detailed basin and petroleum analyses of regional asset teams evaluating basins and plays. Through this, the paper also addresses three commonly asked questions: (1) How can I use palaeogeography in my workflow? (2) How reliable are the maps? (3) How do I build a palaeogeography?