Cenozoic development of southwestern Malay Basin: new insights from subsidence analysis and thermal history

  • Muhammad Hassaan
  • Swapan Kumar Bhattacharya
  • Manoj Joseph Mathew
  • Numair Ahmed Siddiqui
Original Paper


Subsidence and thermal history analysis are carried out in order to investigate the Cenozoic basin development of the southwestern (Tenggol Arch and basinal side) part of the Malay basin. Structurally, the southwestern part consists of normal faults and horst and graben geometry. Tectonic subsidence curves show that the basinal side is more active than the Tenggol Arch due to movement along normal faults. Cenozoic development initiated with the deposition of sedimentary Units M & L (Oligocene) and the activation of the Tenggol fault on the basinal side. Several periods of accelerated and slow subsidence are observed during the Oligocene to Middle Miocene that could be associated with changes in regional stresses caused by pulsating plate movement. The Malay Basin experienced inversion throughout the Middle to Late Miocene related to mantle induced slab avalanche effect, causing relatively higher tectonic subsidence rates on the Tenggol Arch compared to the basinal side, suggesting that the Tenggol Arch is less affected by inversion than the basinal side. After a period (Late Miocene) of non-deposition, the basin was reactivated (Pliocene to recent) due to thermal relaxation with thick sedimentation. Paleo heat flows estimated utilizing a novel technique introduced in this study and present day heat flow calibrated using BHT data further supports our results, in that increase in heat flow is related to rapid tectonic subsidence. An anomalously high heat pulse affected the basin during inversion and could be the cause of meta-sediment formation whereas present heat flows, although high compared to average basins, shows decreasing trend from the inversion period.


Malay Basin Backstripping Tectonic subsidence Heat flow Heat pulse 



Bottom hole temperature


Vitrinite reflectance


Florescence alteration of the multiple macerals


Drill stem test


Tectonic subsidence rates


Loading subsidence rates


True vertical depth subsea




Sand stone


Silt stone


Total organic carbon


Hydrogen Index



The authors gratefully thank PETRONAS Carigali and Petroleum Management Unit (PMU), Malaysia for granting access to the geophysical and well data. Schlumberger are thanked for providing licenses to their software (Petrel © and PetroMod © ). We thank the two anonymous reviewers and the editor-in-chief for their constructive comments that helped to improve the manuscript. Muhammad Hassaan was funded by a postgraduate scholarship from Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Malaysia and has received additional support through the Short Term Internal Research Fund (STIRF). While the industry sponsor (PETRONAS) supported this research at the Center of Basin Studies, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Malaysia. However, the technical contents and ideas presented herein are solely the authors’ interpretations. The authors are grateful to PETRONAS PMU for permission to publish this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Muhammad Hassaan
    • 1
  • Swapan Kumar Bhattacharya
    • 1
  • Manoj Joseph Mathew
    • 2
  • Numair Ahmed Siddiqui
    • 1
  1. 1.Universiti Teknologi PETRONASFaculty of Geosciences & Petroleum EngineeringSeri IskandarMalaysia
  2. 2.Université Bretagne SudLaboratoire Géosciences Océan, UMR CNRSVannes cedexFrance

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