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Geometry and architectural associations of co-genetic debrite-turbidite beds in basin margin strata, Carboniferous Ross Sandstone Ireland; applications to reservoirs located on the margins of; structurally confined submarine fans



Geometry and architectural associations of co-genetic debrite-turbidite beds in basin margin strata, Carboniferous Ross Sandstone Ireland; applications to reservoirs located on the margins of; structurally confined submarine fans



Marine and Petroleum Geology 26.10



Co-genetic debrite-turbidite beds are most commonly found in distal basin-plain settings and basin margins. This study documents the geometry, architectural association and paleogeographic occurrence of co-genetic debrite-turbidite beds in the Carboniferous Ross Sandstone with the goal of reducing uncertainty in the interpretation of subsurface data in similarly shaped basins where oil and gas is produced. The Ross Sandstone of western Ireland was deposited in a structurally confined submarine basin. Two outcrops contain co-genetic debrite-turbidite beds: Ballybunnion and Inishcorker. Both of the exposures contain strata deposited on the margin of the basin. An integrated dataset was used to characterize the stratigraphy of the Ballybunnion exposure. The exposure is divided into lower, middle, and upper units. The lower unit contains laminated shale with phosphate nodules, structureless siltstone, convolute bedding/slumps, locally contorted shale, and siltstone turbidites. The middle unit contains co-genetic debrite-turbidite beds, siltstone turbidites, and structureless siltstone. Each co-genetic debrite-turbidite bed contains evidence that fluid turbulence and matrix strength operated alternately and possibly simultaneously during deposition by a single sediment-gravity-flow event. The upper unit contains thin-bedded sandy turbidites, amalgamated sandy turbidites, siltstone turbidites, structureless siltstone, and laminated shale. A similar vertical facies pattern is found at Inishcorker. Co-genetic debrite-turbidite beds are only found at the basin-margin. We interpret these distinct beds to have originated as sand-rich, fully turbulent flows that eroded muddy strata on the slope as well as interbedded sandstone and mudstone in axial positions of the basin floor forming channels and associated megaflute erosional surfaces. This erosion caused the axially dispersing flows to laterally evolve to silt- and clay-rich flows suspended by both fluid turbulence and matrix strength due to a relative increase in clay proportions and associated turbulence suppression. The flows were efficient enough to bypass the basin center/floor, physically disconnecting their deposits from coeval lobes, resulting in deposition of co-genetic debrite-turbidite beds on the basin margin. The record of these bypassing flows in axial positions of the basin is erosional surfaces draped by thin siltstone beds with organic debris. A detailed cross-section through the Ross Sandstone reveals a wedge of low net-to-gross, poor reservoir-quality strata that physically separates sandy, basin-floor strata from the basin margin. The wedge of strata is referred to as the transition zone. The transition zone is composed of co-genetic debrite-turbidite beds, structureless siltstone, slumps, locally contorted shale, and laminated shale. Using data from the Ross Sandstone, two equations are defined that predict the size and shape of the transition zone. The equations use three variables (thickness of basin-margin strata, thickness of coeval strata on the basin floor, and angle of the basin margin) to solve for width (w) and trajectory of the basinward side of the low net-to-gross wedge (beta ). Beta is not a time line, but a facies boundary that separates sandy basin floor strata from silty basin-margin strata. The transition zone is interpreted to exist on lateral and distal margins of the structurally confined basin. Seismic examples from Gulf of Mexico minibasins reveal a wedge of low continuity, low amplitude seismic facies adjacent to the basin margin. Strata in this wedge are interpreted as transition-zone sediments, similar to those in the Ross Sandstone. Besides defining the size and shape of the transition zone, the variables "w" and "beta " define two important drilling parameters. The variable "w" corresponds to the minimum distance a well bore should be positioned from the lateral basin margin to intersect sandy strata, and "beta " corresponds to the deviation (from horizontal) of the well bore to follow the interface between sandy and low net-to-gross strata. Calculations reveal that "w" and "beta " are related to the relative amount of draping, condensed strata on the margin and the angle of the basin margin. Basins with shallowly dipping margins and relatively high proportions of draping, clay-rich strata have wider transition zones compared to basins with steeply dipping margins with little draping strata. These concepts can reduce uncertainty when interpreting subsurface data in other structurally confined basins including those in Gulf of Mexico, offshore West Africa, and Brunei.

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Accession: 037064934

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DOI: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2009.02.018


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