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Most of land-locked and mountainous Switzerland is underlain by Alpine meta-sediments and has no oil and gas potential. However northern Switzerland includes the Molasse basin, a foreland depression below the Alps which formed during the Oligocene and Miocene.
The Molasse basin was created as a result of the bending of the European plate under the weight of the northwards moving orogenic wedge of the Alps. The sedimentary sequence is primarily conglomerates and sandstones eroded from the developing mountain chain. From the south, the molasse deposits were eventually overthrust by Helvetic nappes and the Jura mountains also originated from this tectonic phase.
In central Switzerland the molasse formed a thick, competent mass that was thrust northward in one piece over Triassic evaporites and is now located between the Alps and the Jura mountains as a piggy-back basin. Globalshift considers that the Molasse basin in Switzerland has limited prospectivity. Conditions were not suitable for oil source rocks although local areas of gas generation have been identified. Traps are limited in extent with few potential seals.