Distinguishing axial and lateral sedimentary systems in rift basins is crucial for predicting reservoir distribution and quality, particularly where synrift strata are interrupted by mass transport complexes (MTCs). Upper Jurassic deep-marine synrift successions in the central North Sea have been studied to assess the temporal and spatial relationships of sediments and controls on reservoir quality. In the Late Jurassic, the central graben experienced erosion at rift margins, whereas adjacent grabens were starved and underfilled with marine sediments, supplied by axial and transverse systems. This study focused on sediments adjacent to a major intrabasinal high, the Josephine ridge. Data included seismic, wireline logs from 16 wells, and biostratigraphic and sedimentological analysis of 144 m (472 ft) of core. Synrift strata are dominated by mudstones but include MTCs interbedded with coarse sandstones at the rift margin and fine-grained turbidite sandstones in basinal depocenters. Petrographic and heavy mineral data indicate different provenance between MTCs and basinal turbidites. Turbidites correlate with periods of lowered relative sea level, during the initial rift phase, and record axial sediment supply. The composition of the MTCs corresponds to in situ strata on the adjacent Jade and Judy horsts. The distribution of MTCs implies formation by crestal collapse horsts during the rift climax and represents a transverse system, with no genetic relationship to axial turbidites. In starved deep-marine basins, fine-grained, well-sorted axial systems may provide the most extensive reservoirs. Transverse systems derived from isolated horsts are typically coarse-grained, poorly sorted, and spatially restricted, being unlikely to provide significant reservoir material.

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