Reservoir Characteristics and Classification of Sand-Prone Submarine Mass-Transport Deposits
Published:January 01, 2011
Lawrence D. Meckel, III, 2011. "Reservoir Characteristics and Classification of Sand-Prone Submarine Mass-Transport Deposits", Mass-Transport Deposits in Deepwater Settings, R. Craig Shipp, Paul Weimer, Henry W. Posamentier
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Mass-transport deposits are remobilized sedimentary successions that are common in the deepwater stratigraphie record. Because mass-transport deposits are typically mud-prone, few industry geoscientists consider sand-prone mass-transport deposits to merit significant attention. However, recent studies confirm that mass-transport deposits can act as significant reservoirs in oil and gas fields. Furthermore, these features can also represent geohazards that warrant consideration in deepwater drilling programs. Identifying and characterizing such deposits accurately in the subsurface allows better understanding of their spatial continuity, prediction of reservoir performance, and generation of models with representative rock properties away from control points. These implications are especially important given ever-increasing costs associated with the development of deepwater fields. Moreover, this underappreciated play type provides underexplored greenfield and brownfield potential in many continental-slope trends.
This paper uses personal observations, as well as published examples from producing fields, the seafloor and shallow subsurface, outcrops, and flume-tank experiments to illustrate specific criteria that aid in the recognition of sand-prone mass-transport deposits in the subsurface. None of these criteria is sufficient by itself to distinguish between a mass-transport deposit and a turbidite system; however, in aggregate, these criteria are sufficiently diagnostic to identify mass-transport deposits that are likely to be reservoir-prone. Specifically, mass-transport deposits can be differentiated from turbidites by seismic morphology, core-scale sand-body architecture, and petrophysical properties, while sand-prone mass-transport deposits can be differentiated from more common mud-prone mass-transport deposits by relative size, associated vertical facies assemblages, and well data.
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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.