ZetaWare -- Calculate Beta Factor For Your Basin

Beta Calculator:

This program calculates the beta factor of a rift basin given the thickness of the post-rift sediments and water depth change. Please refer to McKenzie (1978) for definitions of parameters used: mantle density ρm=3.33 g/cm3, water density ρw=1.03 g/cm3, sediment matrix density ρs=2.65 g/cm3, lithosphere thickness a=130 km, time constant τ=62.8 m.y., temperature at base of lihtosphere T1=1300 °C, α=3.28e-5.

Our basin modeling software, Genesis, use a more advanced technique to determine beta factor. In addition, the heat flow at the base of sediment is not only a function of beta factor, but also sedimentation rate. In some basins, higher sedimentation rate can depress heat flow by as much as 30%, and it could have a significant impact on source rock maturity of rift basins.

Trinity also uses a similar approach to create a map of beta factor for a basin as well as paleo-bathymetry based on thermal and tectonic subsidence considerations.

If you like this tool, let us know. Be sure to check out our simple source rock potential calculator too.


  • McKenzie, D., 1978; Some Remarks on the Development of Sedimentary Basins; Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 40 (1978) 25-32
  • Jarvis, G. T., and D. McKenzie, 1980; Sedimentary Basin Formation With Finite Extension Rates; Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 48 (1980) 42-52
  • Sclater, J. G., and P.A.F. Christie, Continental Stretching: An Explanation of the Post-Mid-Cretaceous Subsidence of the Central North Sea Basin, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 85, No. B7, Pages 3711-3739, July 10, 1980.
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