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Abstract

Upper Ordovician glaciogenic deposits are profoundly important as hydrocarbon reservoirs across North Africa, such as within the Illizi Basin of SE Algeria. In this study we present a new sedimentological and sequence stratigraphic model for Upper Ordovician glaciogenic deposits based on the analysis of core descriptions and wireline logs from 25 wells in the Tiguentourine Field. Within the glaciogenic succession, two ice advance–retreat cycles can be defined, consisting of glaciomarine ice-contact fan deposits and tillites. Deposits of the marine ice-contact fan systems generally show a retrogradational stacking pattern from ice-proximal to ice-distal deposits. This pattern is attributed to the deposition in front of a retreating ice sheet. The proximal marine ice-contact fan deposits consist of massive or low-angle cross-bedded pebbly sandstone. They are interpreted as the deposits of turbulent, high-energy plane-wall jets, emerging from subglacial meltwater conduits. These jet-efflux deposits are up to 60 m thick and interbedded with deposits of cohesive and non-cohesive debris flows. The jet-efflux deposits are overlain by fine-grained, thick-bedded massive sandstone. These mid-fan deposits build up the bulk of the glaciomarine fans and are interpreted as deposits of underflows, generated at the point of flow-detachment, where marine meltwater jets become buoyant and large volumes of sediment fall-out from suspension. In the upper part of the fan succession massive sandstones pass upwards into mud-prone massive sandstones, interpreted as deposits of cohesive sandy debris flows. The most ice-distal deposits are muddy sandstones and mudstones deposited by waning low-density turbulent flows and suspension fall-out. The best reservoir properties within the glaciogenic succession are attributed to the proximal and medial deposits of the ice-contact fans such as coarse-grained jet-efflux deposits and sustained high-density turbulent flow deposits. However, the mud content within the massive sandstones is highly variable and influences the reservoir quality. Both glacial depositional sequences infill 60–175 m deep, elongated depressions, which are interpreted as subglacial tunnel valleys. These tunnel valleys acted as depocentres for the glaciomarine fan deposits. After final deglaciation and post-glacial transgression, organic-rich shale was preferentially deposited in underfilled tunnel valleys.

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