1. n. [Geology]
Geologic components and processes necessary to generate and store hydrocarbons, including a mature source rock, migration pathway, reservoir rock, trap, and seal. Appropriate relative timing of formation of these elements and the processes of generation, migration, and accumulation are necessary for hydrocarbons to accumulate and be preserved. The components and critical timing relationships of a petroleum system can be displayed in a chart that shows geologic time along the horizontal axis and the petroleum system elements along the vertical axis. Exploration plays and prospects are typically developed in basins or regions in which a complete petroleum system has some likelihood of existing.