Seepage rate of hydrothermally generated petroleum in East African Rift lakes: an example from Lake Tanganyika

Davide Oppo, Andrew Hurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Synthetic Aperture Radar images provide temporal coverage of the oil seepage recurrence at Cape Kalumba, Lake Tanganyika. In combination with legacy seismic data, it has been possible to reconstruct the geological context that regulates seepage and estimate the oil seepage rates. Oil seepage is along fractures associated with the East Ubwari Faults, which in turn promote an active
hydrothermal system that matures very shallow (10’s m below the lake floor) oil-prone, less than 25 kyr old source rocks. Temporally consistent oil slick origin points are preferentially aligned E-W and SE-NW, and feed oil slicks on the lake surface. Pervasive seeps activity with significant emission rates, up to 449.39 m3y-1, proves the presence of high-quality oil-prone source rocks and an active petroleum system that emits oil to form slicks. Hydrothermally-driven source rock maturation occurring at very shallow depth creates a narrow depth-window for conventional trapping of oil. Elsewhere in the lakes of the East African Rift, where similar hydrothermal systems occur, oil slicks may only be indicative of active petroleum systems without the presence of conventional traps.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-159
Number of pages11
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Early online date25 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

We thank Michael King and CGG | NPA Satellite Mapping for providing us with the GOSD dataset of Tanzania and the permission to publish the SAR images of Cape Kalumba oil seeps.

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


  • Hydrothermal petroleum
  • rift lake
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • oil seep
  • Easr African rift
  • synthetic aperture radar


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