Abstract

Neogene turbidite systems are major reservoirs in the northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Few publications have described the stratigraphic variations or the three-dimensional geometries of these turbidite systems in detail; hence, an understanding of the stratigraphic characteristics of the producing sands is important for deep-water exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and similar basins worldwide. This study focuses on the northern Green Canyon and central Ewing Bank protraction (lease) areas, where the Pliocene-Pleistocene turbidite systems were mapped using an integrated exploration database. Interpretation of 10,000 km of two-dimensional seismic, 185 well logs, and biostratigraphy from 180 wells allowed us to define the regional sequence stratigraphic framework for this area and potential areas for future exploration. A complex Pliocene-Pleistocene geologic evolution of the area is indicated by the seismic and geologic facies, depositional rates, nature of turbidite systems, and sand content. Significant sand deposits (basin-floor fans) were deposited in most sequences and directly overlie sequence boundaries. Salt tectonics and faulting greatly influenced the loci of these fans' deposition. Large, thick fans fill entire salt-withdrawal minibasins at the base of the Pliocene sequences. In the Pleistocene sequences, where the rate of salt withdrawal was less, smaller and thinner fans were deposited downdip of faults and adjacent to shallow salt bodies. Channel systems, interbedded with overbank shales, constitute most of the sediments in the sequences. The older sequences contain more channels and sandier channel fills than the younger sequences. Analysis of all sequences indicates a complex depositional history where significant sands were deposited where abrupt decreases in bathymetric gradient are associated with salt tectonics or faulting.

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