Abstract

We integrated well logs and three-dimensional seismic data to describe a wedge of deformed shallow Frio rocks lying above a major bed-parallel decollement within the upper Oligocene Frio Formation located between the Houston and Norias deltas on the south Texas Gulf Coast. Our analyses show that the identified deformed shallow Frio rocks can be divided into proximal clay-rich and low-permeability sandstones characterized by discontinuous, mounded, and chaotic seismic events; near-proximal, clay-poor, and high-permeability sandstones characterized by parallel to subparallel bedded seismic events; and distal sand-, silt-, and mudstones composed of a mix of proximal and near-proximal rocks. All of the deformed rocks are composed of acoustic-impedance materials that are lower than those of the undeformed shallow Frio and are underlain by low-velocity, overpressured, shale-rich rocks. The mechanism that triggered the collapse of the shallow Frio and subsequent development of mass-transport deposits is attributed to an uprising, overpressured, shale-rich high and the development of a shelf-edge listric fault. Proprietary biostratigraphic data show that the collapse of the shallow Frio in areas between the Houston and Norias deltas occurred between 27.5 and 25.3 Ma—approximately the same time as the Hackberry collapse in the Mississippi delta. In the proximal area, interpreted paleowater depths from biostratigraphic data based on benthic foraminifers range from 60 to 120 ft (20–40 m) in a shallow neritic environment. In contrast, the distal area lies in paleowater depths interpreted to be between 120 and 300 ft (40–90 m) in a middle neritic environment.

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