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Gulf Coast

January 01, 1994


Repeat formation tester (RFT) pore pressure measurements spanning a depth range of 5500-6060 m in the lower Tuscaloosa Formation (Upper Cretaceous) document a pressure discontinuity of >20 MPa at -5680 m forming a pressure seal in two natural gas fields in the Tuscaloosa trend, Louisiana. In the Morganza field the depth to the top of overpressure varies by less than 30 m across two adjacent fault blocks, though equivalent strata are downthrown by 100 to 120 m. In contrast, the depth to the top of overpressure in the nearby Moore-Sams field rises slightly across the same fault. Therefore, the nearly horizontal top of overpressure does not appear to coincide with time- or lithostratigraphic boundaries.

The overpressures in all of the Moore-Sams and some of the Morganza fields wells follow a local hydrostatic gradient with increasing depth indicating that pore fluids below the pressure seal are in communication, and demonstrating that sandstone connectivity occurs below the pressure seal as well as above. In the remaining Morganza wells, overpressure increases with depth in a stair-step manner that may comprise offset local hydrostatic gradients, to magnitudes of 117 MPa at depths of 5.9 km. The occurrence of the pressure seal within interbedded sandstones and shales, where high sandstone connectivity is expected, suggests that the sandstones of the seal zone are unusually tight.

The above observations coupled with a petrographic study of sandstones from the vicinity of the pressure seal suggest that extreme compaction of the sandstones after dissolution of carbonate cements may have contributed to the low permeability indicated by the pressure data, and that the seal formed a kilometer or more shallower than it is today.

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AAPG Memoir

Basin Compartments and Seals

Peter J. Ortoleva
Peter J. Ortoleva
Department of Chemistry Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
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Publication date:
January 01, 1994




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