As was pointed out in Chapters 1 and 4 of this volume, the need to locate new energy resources coupled with discoveries of petroleum in carbonate slope and base-of-slope settings (albeit usually by accident rather than by design) has intensified research and exploration efforts in these frontier deep water carbonate environments.
Ancient carbonate platform margins have historically been a major petroleum exploration target and accordingly there is a wealth of literature that pertains to ancient reef and bank margins. It is well beyond the intent or scope of this chapter to discuss the myriad of facies types at platform margins but several recent publications that are recommended reading include Laporte (1974), Wilson (1975), Enos (1977a), Toomey (1981), Halley et al (1983), and James (1983). Three well-written papers that present thoughtful overviews of platform margins are Kendall and Schlager (1981), Read (1982), and James and Mountjoy (1983).
What has not been extensively studied, however, are carbonate slope and base-of-slope settings, how deeper water facies interrelate to their temporal equivalents on the platform margin, the various facies associations that comprise basin margin sequences, and the potential value of deeper water carbonate facies in petroleum and minerals exploration (Cook et al, 1972; Cook and Enos, 1977a; McIlreath and James, 1978; Cook, 1982; Cook and Mullins, 1983; Mullins and Cook, in prep.).
This chapter focuses on slope and basin settings but it also stresses that the type of shoal water platform margin can play a key role in determining the facies sequences which develop
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The increased need to find new energy resources in deep marine frontier environments has clearly intensified the importance and interest in deep water carbonate settings and how these settings interrelate to adjacent shoal water platform margins. Coarse-grained mass-flow deposits beyond the shelf break in terrigenous clastic environments have been known for many years to form major petroleum reservoirs, and it is likely that similar deep-water clastic facies will continue to be future exploration targets. The purpose of this short course is to improve approaches and ideas related to petroleum and mineral exploration in platform margin and deeper water carbonate environments. Emphasis is placed on understanding depositional environments, their contained facies and diagenetic patterns. Better geologic interpretation of these three elements in carbonate sedimentology and facies analysis is usually critical in petroleum exploration. These elements are also receiving wider importance in base metal exploration as many mineral deposits in carbonates are controlled by primary depositional patterns and not simply due to tectonics and/or proximity to igneous intrustions.