Abstract

Simple to complex, highly sinuous deep-water channels are common in the subsurface Tertiary off Angola, west Africa, and have been important exploration targets there in recent years. We discuss in this article three examples of these sinuous channels that are generally characterized by high-amplitude seismic reflection events, resulting from reservoir-prone lithologies. The planform characteristics of these channels-sinuosities and sinuous loop wavelengths-are similar to those of the fluvial channels; however, the planform combined with sectional seismic characteristics of the deep-water channels suggest that high sinuosities generally evolved through repeated channel aggradation and lateral migration. In detail, the influence of lateral migration vs. vertical aggradation in the evolution of the deep-water channel sinuosities varies from one channel to another and even along the length of a single channel or across a single sinuous loop. The lateral migrations may be continuous or discrete, separated in distance, and resolvable in seismic. Along some parts of the channels, very high initial sinuosities, not significantly affected by lateral migration, suggest that the initial sea-floor topography and gradients were a major factor in their development. In such cases, the channels essentially aggraded vertically. Thus, the modes of deep-water channel migration and sinuosity evolution are complex and different from those of fluvial channels that exhibit largely lateral (without much aggradational component) shifts within a meander loop. These differences are the result of unique hydrodynamic characteristics of the currents in these systems. The gross reservoir shapes in both the fluvial and deep-water channels are obviously dictated by their high sinuosities. The degree of lateral migration vs. vertical aggradation, however, determines the details of the lateral extent vs. vertical stacking of reservoir lithologies and their connectivities in deep-water sinuous channels. A fluvial, point-bar-type continuity may be present in a part of a deep-water sinuous channel loop but is not expected to extend all across it.

You do not currently have access to this article.