Abstract

Weakly confined channel systems are common in low-relief minibasins on continental margins and are important hydrocarbon reservoirs. They are characterized by channels that diverge in the proximal part of the basin and converge because of topographic confinement in the distal part of the basin. The Morillo 1 member, in the Ainsa Basin, Spain, is an excellent outcrop analog of a weakly confined submarine channel system. Data from the Morillo 1 member are used to quantitatively document how reservoir characteristics vary laterally and longitudinally in weakly confined submarine channel reservoirs. The key axis-to-margin patterns are the proportions of channel elements, channel complexes, channel-complex sets, reservoir facies, and net sand content; static connectivity decreases laterally from the axis to the margins of the system. The key longitudinal patterns in the updip area are channel elements that have levees, are spatially dispersive, and have a radially divergent map pattern. In the downdip area, channel elements are spatially focused and have uniform orientations, and the proportion of channel elements does not change along the longitudinal profile. However, the size of channel elements, percentage of reservoir facies, and connectivity of channel elements are higher in the downdip area. Patterns identified herein are significant because they cannot be resolved using subsurface or sea-floor data. Results of this study can therefore be used to reduce uncertainty in the interpretation of subsurface data, provide input to constrain rule-based forward stratigraphic models, and provide input to constrain reservoir models.

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