Submarine Mass-Transport Deposits of the Permian Cutoff Formation, West Texas, U.S.A.: Internal Architecture and Controls on Overlying Reservoir Sand Deposition
Published:January 01, 2011
Robert Amerman, Eric P. Nelson, Michael H. Gardner, Bruce Trudgill, 2011. "Submarine Mass-Transport Deposits of the Permian Cutoff Formation, West Texas, U.S.A.: Internal Architecture and Controls on Overlying Reservoir Sand Deposition", Mass-Transport Deposits in Deepwater Settings, R. Craig Shipp, Paul Weimer, Henry W. Posamentier
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Abstract: The Williams Ranch Member of the upper Cutoff Formation in the Guadalupe and Delaware Mountains, west Texas, U.S.A., consists of six offlapping lithologic units. The deposits formed during carbonate turbidite deposition across a drowned Early Permian carbonate platform. They have an areal extent of more than 20,000 km2 and reach a maximum thickness of at least 113 m. At the terminal margin of the older platform, the carbonate turbidites were partially redistributed by mass-transport events (MTEs) onto the slope and basin floor. Deposits formed during individual mass-transport events (MTE bodies) comprise the bulk of the Williams Ranch Member basinward from the drowned margin for at least 28 km along a transect oblique to depositional dip. MTE bodies are interbedded with undeformed carbonate turbidites and contain soft-sediment folds, faults, and extensional and shortening lineations, as well as termination surfaces (beds terminated from above and/or below). Turbidite deposition and subsequent mass transport caused general basinward thickening of the Williams Ranch Member from the drowned margin, where the Cutoff Formation is missing, to the basin floor.
Deposition responded to, and modified, inherited bathymetric relief. Compared to isopach thins, isopach thicks formed in bathymetric lows and locally formed bathymetric highs. Isopach thicks contain more undeformed strata and show more soft-sediment folds. These relationships suggest better preservation of strata in structurally controlled inherited bathymetric lows. In general, MTE bodies are preferentially deposited in these paleobathymetric lows. A minimum of six vertically stacked MTE bodies are recognized in the main study area with thicknesses ranging from less than one to tens of meters. MTE bodies show a general S-to-SSE paleotransport direction, with significant local variation, reflecting either underlying bathymetric relief and/or different source locations. Repeated MTEs resulted in a reduction of the overall basin gradient and created local positive bathymetry. Sand fairways and ponded sheet deposits in the overlying Brushy Canyon Formation are focused in bathymetric lows, and sands thin and onlap onto bathymetric highs.
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Mass-Transport Deposits in Deepwater Settings
Historically, submarine-mass failures or mass-transport deposits have been a focus of increasingly intense investigation by academic institutions particularly during the last decade, though they received much less attention by geoscientists in the energy industry. With recent interest in expanding petroleum exploration and production into deeper water depths globally and more widespread availability of high-quality data sets, mass-transport deposits are now recognized as a major component of most deep-water settings. This recognition has lead to the realization that many aspects of these deposits are still unknown or poorly understood. This volume contains twenty-three papers that address a number of topics critical to further understanding mass-transport deposits. These topics include general overviews of these deposits, depositional settings on the seafloor and in the near-subsurface interval, geohazard concerns, descriptive outcrops, integrated outcrop and seismic data/seismic forward modeling, petroleum reservoirs, and case studies on several associated topics. This volume will appeal to a broad cross section of geoscientists and geotechnical engineers, who are interested in this rapidly expanding field. The selection of papers in this volume reflects a growing trend towards a more diverse blend of disciplines and topics, covered in the study of mass-transport deposits.