The South Caspian Basin, the northern Alborz Mountains, the Gorgan plain and the Moghan plain constitute the northernmost and youngest petroleum system in Iran. This region was part of the Paratethys realm from Oligocene to Pliocene time. The Oligocene – Miocene Maikop/Diatom Total Petroleum System of the South Caspian Basin produces major volumes of hydrocarbons in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and the Iranian sector of the basin has consequently undergone exploration due to its generally similar geology. The 20 km thick, dominantly Cenozoic sedimentary cover in the basin is reduced to less than 3 km in the northern foothills of the Alborz Mountains, and scattered surface oil seepages in the latter region are believed to be generated by Cretaceous and Miocene source rocks. In the Moghan plain to the southwest of the South Caspian Basin, anticlinal folds of Oligo‐Miocene Zivar Formation sandstones may be prospective for hydrocarbon exploration. Mud volcanoes in the Gorgan plain and in adjacent offshore regions at the SE margin of the South Caspian Basin are associated with hydrocarbon seepages, and appear to be sourced by Cretaceous and Cenozoic shales and mudstones. Major structural features in the southern part of the South Caspian Basin include Cenozoic mud diapirs, folds and gravity structures.

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