Chang H. Kiang, Renato O. Kowsmann, Andre A. Bender and Ulisses T. Mello
Petrobrás Research Center, Cidade Universitária, Qd 7, Ilha do Fundão, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, CEP 21910, Brazil.
The origin and evolution of sedimentary basins are discussed in terms of thermomechanical processes. Emphasis is given to the disequilibrium-inducing mechanisms and to the resulting deformations that restore isostatic equilibrium. Basins are treated in a broad sense under three major groups -- extensional, compressional and intracratonic. The first two have well-known tectonic origins and are labeled according to the dominant stress regime at the time of basin formation. Since the origin of intracratonic basins is still very controversial, they are treated separately. Within this scheme, major geological features observed in sedimentary basins are explained by simple physical models.