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Exploration leads from Gravity and Magnetic data in Cauvery Basin,
C.S. Bahuguna, S.M. Chatterjee#, D. Sar and Kh. Nabakumar
Geophysics Division, KDMIPE, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited,
Kaulagarh Road, Dehradun- 248195, India.

Knowledge of distribution of sediments in a basin goes a long way in planning intensive exploration
activities in a cost-effective manner. This is often not possible from seismic data alone because of poor
quality of the data at the basement level. Gravity and magnetic (GM) method is an effective tool in finding
distribution of sediments in a basin and have been successful in many basins.
Processing and integrated interpretation of about 3600 km of GM data have been done for estimation of
sedimentary thickness and basement configuration in one block of Cauvery basin in the southeastern part
of Indian offshore. Since, marine gravity coverage in the area is limited; we have used satellite gravity
data in conjunction with marine data for better understanding of the area.
Gravity modeling in the block has given a good estimate of sedimentary thickness and basement
configuration, though seismic data is poor at the basement level. Gravity modeling shows that the gravity
highs are related to the uplifted basement. The structuring in the sedimentary layers seen in seismic data
is correlatable with the gravity highs and is important exploration targets.

1. Introduction:
Gravity and magnetic methods (GM) have been used for long for tectonic studies and for exploration of
mineral resources including hydrocarbons. Dependence on GM method for exploration of hydrocarbons
gradually declined with the advancement of seismic imaging technology. Of late, there has been a
resurgence of this method with the strides made in GM data acquisition and precision navigation
technology, processing, and IT enabled GM modeling. GM method is an effective tool for investigating
basement configuration and sedimentary thickness, which is often not possible from seismic data alone.
Despite favorable reservoir facies and entrapment, exploration efforts in many areas, e.g., Kerala Basin in
the South Eastern part of Western continental margin of India failed mostly because of source related
problems like inadequate burial depth of sediments for maturity (Chatterjee et al, 2006). Information
about distribution of sediments is an important exploration input for exploration in such areas.
In India, GM method is now being increasingly used in new exploration acreages and deep water
prospects and together with seismic and other data for revisiting old areas. Because of its ability to give a
good picture of distribution of sediment in a basin, GM method is used for first hand evaluation of an area
and subsequent seismic exploration planning in cost effective manner. Depth section obtained by gravity
modeling helps in constraining seismic interpretation and mitigating exploration risks. In a recent study in
Kerala Basin (Chatterjee et. al. 2006), good estimate of sedimentary thickness was obtained by GM
modeling though the basement is not developed in seismic data and revealed some important exploration
objective not apparent in seismic data. Also, GM data could explain some observed anomalous features
in the area in geodynamical terms. GM method has been successful in onland areas as well. For
example, a deep tertiary graben not resolved in seismic data was identified in southern Cambay basin
when the area was restudied with GM and other potential theory data (Chatterjee et al, 1998). Another
important use of GM method is sub-basalt imaging for which seismic method has some inherent
shortcomings. Mapping of Mesozoic sediments underlying thick Deccan trap basalt has been possible by
integrated modeling of GM, EM and Electrical data in the onland part Saurashtra basin in the Northern
part of western continental margin of India (Satpal et al, 2006).
# Corresponding author.

In the present study we have done integrated

interpretation and modeling of GM and seismic data
in Cauvery offshore basin in the south eastern part
of East Coast of India. (Figure 1). Recently, the
basin has engaged much attention for deep gas
prospects (Mohan, 2006). Hence, knowledge of
distribution of sediments in the basin assumes much
importance. For this we have processed about 3600
km of marine GM data. Since, marine GM coverage
in the area is limited; we have used satellite gravity
data in addition to marine data for better
understanding of the area.
Figure 1. Location map of the study area

2. Geologic background:
Cauvery basin is a NE-SW tending graben, which came into existence during early Mesozoic. It is bound
by NE-SW tending Mandapam ridge in the north, which separates it from Palkbay sub-basin. In the east
of the basin lies the Srilankan Massif and in the west is the Indian craton. The basin opens up in the
Indian Ocean in the south. The basin has a thick sedimentary column ranging in age from Cretaceous to
recent deposited on basement formed of Archaean gneisses and charnockites. Sedimentation in the
basin took place in three main phases starting with Andimadam formation corresponding to synrift phase
followed by Bhubangiri and Nallinam formations of drift phase and the Kamlapuram and younger
formations of post rift phase (Venkatrangan et al, 1993).

3. Processing of GM data:
GM data were acquired along a few line segments in the area. In the absence of ship velocity data,
instantaneous velocity was computed at each SP from navigation data. The basic data like gravity,
magnetic field, velocity, heading, etc were despiked and edited followed by various corrections and
reductions to obtain free air gravity and magnetic anomaly values at each SP.
Data quality in the area is fair to poor. Poor quality GM data along quite a few lines were rejected. A lot of
infilling through interpolation were to be done to fill the data gaps. International gravity formula (1971) has
been used for computation of theoretical gravity value and magnetic anomaly has been computed with
IGRF model of 2000. Magnetic data recorded at Pondichery observatory for one minute received from
Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, Mumbai was used for diurnal correction. After processing, the data was
subjected to network adjustment to reduce the magnitude of errors at the intersection points of the

4. Brief description of Gravity and Magnetic anomaly

Free air Gravity anomaly map (Figure 2) has been generated
with contour interval of 4 mGal. Contour values
from 44 mGal in the north to 144 mGal to the south. The
contours are evenly distributed indicating that the area lies in
the basinal part. For better understanding of the area,
satellite gravity map (Figure 3) as been used in conjunction
with marine gravity data. The most prominent feature in the
gravity data is a high in the central part of the area. The high
trends NE-SW and has considerable areal extent and
amplitude (10-12 mal). Expression of gravity high is also
seen in seismic data (Figure 4)
The structuring seen in the sedimentary level of the seismic
data seems to be related to uplifted basement and is



Figure 2. Free air gravity anomaly map

Contour interval : 4 mGal

corelatable with the gravity highs. The gravity high and

related structuring in the sedimentary section is important
exploration target. There is a set of dense contour tending
NNE-SSW in the western part (coastward) of the satellite
gravity map. The contours take a swing to the east in the
northern part. This set of contour is related to shelf break.
The high trend parallel to sub parallel to the set of dense
contour and west of it is typical shelf break related high. A
similar set of contour but having gentler gradient
accompanied by a high characteristic of shelf break is seen
in the eastern edge of the satellite gravity map. However this
can not be ascertained as there is no seismic data in this
Magnetic anomaly map (Figure 5) has been generated with
50 Gamma contour intervals. Contour values ranges from
50 Gammas to 300 gammas from NE to SW. The magnetic
anomaly map is characterized by sparse contours and no
significant feature is observed in the map except in extreme
south east. Sparse contours indicate that the basement and
magnetic causatives are deep.



Figure 3. Satellite gravity map of the area


Figure 4. Seismic section along profile BB

Figure 5. Magnetic anomaly map of the

Area (Contour interval 50 Gamma)

5. Gravity modeling:
Seismic, gravity and magnetic data of the area were analyzed and gravity modeling was done along few
key lines. Profile BB and CC are on the central part of the area, where the gravity high is observed.
Profile AA is in the northern side of the gravity high. Satellite gravity data with necessary correction have
been used along with marine data for modeling along profile AA. Depth sections with water bottom, one
reflector within Eocene, two within Cretaceous and interpreted basement top are prepared from seismic

data with velocity field estimated from stacking velocity. Since, reflection from basement is not clear, its
depth has been adjusted depending on the gravity response of the models. Modeling has been done with
density 2.65 gm/cc for basement and 2.4gm/cc, 2.35 gm/cc, 2.25 gm/cc and 2.15 gm/cc for the
sedimentary layers from bottom to top. On the basis of bathymetry and Isostacy, depth of Moho is fixed
for all the profiles.
The computed gravity values agree well both feature wise and in absolute value with the observed gravity
data. Gravity modeling along the profiles shows that basement is much deeper than it appears to be from
the patchy reflection data. There is considerable crustal thinning in the eastern part of the area, where
Moho sharply rises to about 16 Km. from a depth of about 40 Km. in the west. Gravity response along the
line AA and its zoomed version are shown in figure 6 and figure 6a
Gravity ( mGal )




Depth ( Km. )


-- Calculated

-- Calculated










Sed1, D=2.2




Sed2, D=2.35
Basement, D=2.65

Figure 6a. Zoom of figure6 AA

Figure 6. Gravity modeling along profile AA

From the gravity modeling along the profiles BB and CC it is found that the high observed in the
anomaly map is basement related. The result of gravity modeling along BB and CC are shown in Figure
7 and 8.Sedimentary thickness estimated from gravity modeling ranges from 5 Km. to 8 Km.

Gravity (mGal)



. Observed


-- Calculated


Sed1, D=2.15






Water, D=1


Sed1, D=2.15

Sed2, D=2.25


Figure 7. Gravity modeling along profile BB


Sed3, D=2.35

Water, D=1

Sed4, D=2.4
Basement, D=2.65

Figure 8. Gravity modeling along profile CC

6. Conclusions:
Observed gravity feature in the central part of the area is basement related. There is a considerable
crustal thinning in the eastern part of the area. A good estimate of sedimentary thickness in the area is
obtained from gravity modeling though the reflection from basement is not developed in seismic data.
The basement is considerably deeper than it appears in the seismic data. Sedimentary thickness in the
area ranges from 5 Km. to 8 Km. Structuring in the sedimentary layers seen in seismic data is because of
draping on the basement high. Gravity highs are seen in the central and north eastern part of the area.
Expression of gravity high of central part of the area is also seen in seismic data. The gravity highs and
the related structuring, seen in the sedimentary level of the seismic data seems to be related to uplifted
basement and are important exploration targets.

Chatterjee, S.M.; Sar, D., Baruah, S., Nabakumar, Kh. and Sawai, S. (2006), Exploration Leads from
Gravity and Magnetic data in Kerala-Konkan Basin, India, Proc. 6th Conference and Exploration of SPG,
Kolkata, Jan. 09-11.
Chatterjee, S.M.; Rangarajan, S. and Sar, D. (1998), Integrated Study of Southern part of Narmada
Block, Cambay Basin, Proc. 2nd Conference Exploration on Petroleum Geophysics, Chennai, India, Jan.
19-21, pp 208-213.
Satpal; Singh, O.P.; Sar, D., Chatterjee, S.M. and Sawai, S., (2006) , Integrated interpretation for subbasalt imaging in onland Saurashtra basin, India, TLE, July 2006.
Mohan, S.G.K. (2006), Deep Basin Gas Prospects, Cauvery Basin, India, TLE, July 2006.
Venkatrangan, R., Prabhakar, K.N.; Singh, D.N.; Awasthi, S.K.; Reddy, P.K.; Mishra, P.K.; Roy S.K. and
Palakshi, K. (1993), Lithostratigraphy of Indian Petroliferous Basins Document V 11 Cauvery Basin,
KDMIPE, ONGC Publication.

Permission of Oil and gas Corporation Limited to present this paper is gratefully acknowledged. The
authors are grateful to Mr. P.B. Pati for valuable suggestions. The views expressed in this paper are
those of the authors and not of the organization to which they belong.