Modern and ancient submarine channels show a wide range of architectural styles. Architectural element analysis is a useful descriptive means to characterize the type of channel fill, show the interconnectivity and lateral continuity of sand bodies, and interpret the causal sedimentary processes. This paper combines a review of the literature on submarine channels with new observations and analysis, and proposes architectural element models for submarine channels, in particular, demonstrating how these models can be applied to interpreting the sequential fill of ancient submarine channels. Data for the dimensions and degrees of lateral continuity and vertical connectivity of channel elements, such as those giving rise to reservoir heterogeneities in hydrocarbon exploration, are presented for a variety of examples of architectural elements, providing quantitative information for reservoir analog models.

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