GEM: The Geognostics Earth Model

A new view of global geology, accurately reconstructed back in time


What is GEM?

GEM is a spatially consistent model of the Earth’s crust built using basement terranes and structures. It provides an accurate, 4D view of the Earth, with detailed, structurally constrained, global plate reconstructions back to the Triassic. It is an innovative, predictive base for understanding our planet and its resources.

GEM is being applied across disciplines, including:

  • Oil, gas, mineral and geothermal exploration

  • Paleogeography, palaeontology and dinosaur migration

  • Global tectonic research

Why GEM?

By starting with a spatially consistent, bottom-up, map-view of global geology, GEM enables critical evaluation of traditional exploration data and geology in a new light. It provides a predictive framework to understand both basement and basin resources.

GEM provides a new, ‘bottom-up’ view of global basins, defined and categorized geologically rather than geographically. Traditional basin exploration follows a well-established pattern, incrementally stepping out from the known: ‘top-down’, ‘wells-out’ exploration using 2D ‘section-view’ thinking first. This often results in a fragmented understanding of basins where abundant ‘white space’ remains, especially where data is poor - GEM redresses this.

By understanding the shape of a basin, the nature of its basement, the geological events that shaped it, and the way it was filled from the bottom-up, GEM helps to rapidly build new predictive views of basins and reduce exploration risk.


GEM globe small.png

How to use it?

GEM is designed to be used through the exploration cycle, from early stage reconnaissance exploration, to basin screening and prospecting:

  • GEM is equally useful in ‘mature’, well-explored basins and frontier areas – it is just as useful looking for ‘new’ ideas in ‘old’ basins as it is in under-explored frontier areas.

  • GEM provides a consistent base for basin exploration worldwide, and can be used to understand and predict basin geology well beyond ‘commodity’ knowledge.

  • GEM is a powerful way to think differently about basin exploration – we liken it to getting a new pair of geological glasses, or having one’s geological cataracts removed!

  • We want to maximise your use of GEM by providing comprehensive support, hence Geognostics consulting time is included with GEM

  • We want GEM to be ‘owned’ by its subscribers. We strongly encourage clients to get involved in GEM’s evolution, to steer future development and make it more useful.

Intriguing Implications

  • >40% of the World’s known hydrocarbons overlie one type of basement terrane

  • >80% of the World’s source rocks were deposited in the tropics

  • The World’s most productive source rocks are a predictable consequence of plate tectonic restriction and global anoxia

  • Most conjugate margin plays are neglected – GEM enables accurate extrapolation from one margin to the other

  • Basement type and thickness determine basin heatflow

  • ~30% of margins are formed via reactivation of basement dykes - these basins are very different

  • Basement inheritance explains most basin structures and crustal thinning geometry


  • How can you quickly understand the tectonics and basin evolution of the most geologically complex regions on Earth?

  • What is the timing of extension and/or sea floor spreading? How does this relate to stratigraphy and petroleum systems?


  • What type of basement floors your basin?

  • How has it influenced basin evolution and heat flow?

  • Which basement terrane type underlies nearly half the World’s hydrocarbons?


  • What is the structural framework of your basin?

  • What is the deep architecture of the most prolific basins?

  • How have pre-existing basement structures influenced basins?

  • Where is the continent-ocean boundary in your basin?


  • What was the paleo-latitude and paleo-longitude of your basin?

  • How do I accurately correlate successful play fairways from one conjugate margin to another?

  • Where and when were the best restricted marine source rocks deposited? [coming soon]


GEM is available via annual subscription, which includes consulting time, comprehensive support and regular updates.

The GEM Consortium currently comprises more than 15 members, including oil companies, minerals companies and universities. We hold regular GEM workshops with the consortium, and members are encouraged to steer and participate in its development.

What’s Included?

GEM is a digital product delivered in ArcGIS format, with plate models in PaleoGIS and GPLATES formats.

  • Fully attributed, global interpretations of:

    • Basement terranes

    • Oceanic domains

    • Megaregional structures

    • Continent-ocean transitions

    • Tectonic events & basin phases

    • Basement + Paleozoic outcrop outlines

  • Detailed plate reconstructions of all layers back to the Triassic using Geognostics’ proprietary global plate model

  • 8 focus areas showing structures + basins through time, plus high resolution plate tectonic animations (GEM Movie Tickets):

    • SE Asia

    • Gulf of Mexico – Caribbean

    • East Africa

    • Circum-Australia

    • Mediterranean – Black Sea – West Tethys

    • North Atlantic – Arctic – East Siberia

    • Central – Equatorial Atlantic

    • Equatorial – South Atlantic

  • A suite of proprietary, high resolution Geognostics images of public domain global geophysical datasets filtered to enhance basin geology (gravity, magnetics, DEM)