ABSTRACT

Point-bar deposits, although readily recognizable in most successions, are notoriously challenging to map and correlate accurately, particularly in the subsurface. Sedimentologic interpretations from microresistivity image logs, by contrast, offer an unparalleled method of accurately reconstructing point-bar architectural elements and mapping their distribution. Using an example from the Lower Cretaceous McMurray Formation, we demonstrate that the bedding dip profiles of stacked downstream migration, lateral accretion, and channel abandonment elements record the semicontinuous point-bar accretion of two erosionally juxtaposed large-scale channels. Microresistivity image-log analysis clearly demonstrates that bedding and architectural elements of these heterolithic point bars display discrete and predictable changes in dip angle and direction that are independent of autogenic variations in lithology. We advocate, therefore, that this approach be used to map the facies of point bars and predict their reservoir trends.

The laterally accreted mud-sand couplets display a cyclic pattern that is consistent with a nonrandom recurring process. Based on the distribution of bioturbation in the mud beds and variations in sand-bed thicknesses, we argue that this recurring process was probably a monthly occurrence. By measuring the lateral-accretion bed thicknesses for what appears to be a 1-yr interval, a sedimentation rate of 86 cm/yr is estimated for these lateral-accretion beds. This deposition rate provides an upper limit required to deposit these point bars and improves the framing of the depositional model. We estimate that the two point bars in this study were each deposited over a period of a few hundred years.

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