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Abstract

Slides and mass-transport-related materials constitute large volumes of sediments in deepwater settings. During the past decade, extensive interpretations of 3D seismic data, conducted by many companies, have indicated that such deposits are quite common along most deepwater margins. In some basins, individual depositional sequences in the upper Quaternary may consist of more than 50% slides and/or deformed sediments. For example, in Basin 4 of the Brazos Trinity system in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, 50–60% of the ponded sequence is composed of mass–transport deposits (Beaubouef et al., 2003); in deepwater Brunei, such elements comprise 50% of the depositional sequences (McGilvery and Cook, 2003); offshore the Nile they average 50% of the depositional sequences, and in some areas, they constitute as much as 90% of the sequences (Newton et al., 2004); and offshore eastern Trinidad they comprise 50% of the Quaternary depositional sequences (C. Shipp, personal communication, 2004).

Slides and mass-transport-related sediments are rarely primary reservoirs and are certainly not primary exploration targets in siliciclastic settings. However, we review these deposits here because (1) they constitute important aspects of deepwater sediment fill, (2) they can be important regional seals, and, most critically, (3) their distribution in the shallow subsurface is an important factor that should be identified in any assessment of drilling hazards and in geotechnical studies for exploration and development planning.

Specifically, the transportation and deformation of mass-transport deposits and slides appear to cause water expulsion. As a consequence, these features commonly are overcom-pacted

Introduction

Slides and mass-transport-related materials constitute large volumes of sediments in deepwater settings. During the past decade, extensive interpretations of 3D seismic data, conducted by many companies, have indicated that such deposits are quite common along most deepwater margins. In some basins, individual depositional sequences in the upper Quaternary may consist of more than 50% slides and/or deformed sediments. For example, in Basin 4 of the Brazos Trinity system in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, 50–60% of the ponded sequence is composed of mass–transport deposits (Beaubouef et al., 2003); in deepwater Brunei, such elements comprise 50% of the depositional sequences (McGilvery and Cook, 2003); offshore the Nile they average 50% of the depositional sequences, and in some areas, they constitute as much as 90% of the sequences (Newton et al., 2004); and offshore eastern Trinidad they comprise 50% of the Quaternary depositional sequences (C. Shipp, personal communication, 2004).

Slides and mass-transport-related sediments are rarely primary reservoirs and are certainly not primary exploration targets in siliciclastic settings. However, we review these deposits here because (1) they constitute important aspects of deepwater sediment fill, (2) they can be important regional seals, and, most critically, (3) their distribution in the shallow subsurface is an important factor that should be identified in any assessment of drilling hazards and in geotechnical studies for exploration and development planning.

Specifically, the transportation and deformation of mass-transport deposits and slides appear to cause water expulsion. As a consequence, these features commonly are overcom-pacted in the shallow subsurface (<100 m; 330 feet), so that jetting or pile driving operations through them can significantly decrease penetration rates (Shipp et al., 2004). With rig costs in deep water averaging $0.25 to 0.4 million/day, shorter drilling times are imperative. The accomplishment of shorter drilling times requires detailed study of these depositional features. In addition, for proper design of subsea infrastructure, it is important that we understand the distribution of the upper tens of meters of sediments in the slope.

As we discussed in Chapter 1, the terms “mass-transport deposits (MTDs),” “mass-transport complexes (MTCes),” and “slide” will be used in the following ways in this chapter. MTD’s are defined as most deepwater features or stratigraphic intervals that have been resedi-mented (moved) since their time of original deposition. They commonly overlie an erosional base upfan, becoming mounded downfan, are externally mounded in shape, and pinch out laterally. Seismic facies vary from parallel, thrust, to rotated blocks, to chaotic to hummocky reflections with poor to fair continuity and variable amplitude (Figure 9-1). This term is primarily a seismic facies description. We specifically do not include turbidites (see Chapter 4). In large part due to confusing terminology, MTDs include what is commonly termed slumps, slides, mass flows, debris flows, slope failure complexes, mass-transport complexes, and numerous other terms.

Figure 9-1.

Schematic figure illustrating the different facies present in mass-transport deposits. Deposits include slide blocks (rotated, glide, thrust), and areas of chaotic sediments, interpreted as debris flows. Individual glide blocks are present within a more deformed matrix. Modified from Prior et al. (1984).

Figure 9-1.

Schematic figure illustrating the different facies present in mass-transport deposits. Deposits include slide blocks (rotated, glide, thrust), and areas of chaotic sediments, interpreted as debris flows. Individual glide blocks are present within a more deformed matrix. Modified from Prior et al. (1984).

Weimer (1989) used the term “mass-transport complexes” for those features that occur at the base of depositional sequences and are overlain and/or onlapped by channel and levee sediments (Figure 9-2). In its original usage, the term MTC had a clear sequence stratigraphic connotation that was used to distinguish it from the generic term “slide.” More recently, the term has been used in industry to describe any mass transport–related deposits. For this chapter, we use it in its original definition, meaning only those MTCs that have a clear sequence stratigraphic occurrence are called MTCs. In the following examples, we use the term as it was originally used by each author.

Figure 9-2.

Seismic profile across an upper Pleistocene sequence (ca. 0.5 Ma) in the Mississippi Fan, northern deep Gulf of Mexico: (a) uninterpreted, (b) interpreted. Key elements are a mass-transport complex (MTC) at the base, overlain by channel-fill and levee-overbank sediments. The MTC has an externally mounded form. Internal reflections are mounded, hummocky, and chaotic, with poor continuity, indicating poor reservoir potential. The MTC overlies an erosional sequence boundary and laps out against the eroded portion of the underlying sequence to the east and west. The top of the MTC is an irregular surface that has been eroded into several channels (high-amplitude reflections). After Weimer (1990). Reprinted with permission of AAPG.

Figure 9-2.

Seismic profile across an upper Pleistocene sequence (ca. 0.5 Ma) in the Mississippi Fan, northern deep Gulf of Mexico: (a) uninterpreted, (b) interpreted. Key elements are a mass-transport complex (MTC) at the base, overlain by channel-fill and levee-overbank sediments. The MTC has an externally mounded form. Internal reflections are mounded, hummocky, and chaotic, with poor continuity, indicating poor reservoir potential. The MTC overlies an erosional sequence boundary and laps out against the eroded portion of the underlying sequence to the east and west. The top of the MTC is an irregular surface that has been eroded into several channels (high-amplitude reflections). After Weimer (1990). Reprinted with permission of AAPG.

Jackson (1997) defined slides as “a mass movement or descent from failure of earth... or rock under shear stress along one or several surfaces.... the moving mass may or may not be greatly deformed, and movement may be rotational or planar.” Thus, we use the term slide when there is no sequence stratigraphic context. By contrast, we use the term mass-transport complex when the deposit clearly can be placed in a sequence stratigraphic context.

The terms turbidite and debris flow have been used in geoscience literature to describe certain aspects of MTDs and slides. Without integrating cores or borehole image logs through these deposits, however, we prefer to avoid using process-related terms such as debris flow and turbidite in describing such deposits, if they are primarily imaged on seismic data. Various types of slides (rotated, glide, and thrust) usually are acceptable terms where the structural and stratal relationships can be determined (Figure 9-1). In general, there is a decrease in the strati-graphic order downslope in these features, which is expressed as a decrease in coherent slide blocks and an increase in hummocky to chaotic reflections. The exception is where thrust slides are present, which indicates localized contraction.

The purpose of this chapter is to review the characteristics of MTDs and slides as they appear on the seafloor, seismic data, wireline logs, outcrops, cores, and borehole images. We briefly review two petroleum-producing examples. In addition, we address the importance of slides and MTDs in geotechnical studies. Unlike the reasons to study the reservoir elements we described in Chapter 6 through Chapter 8, and Chapter 10, the primary reason to study MTDs and slides is to avoid problems in drilling and subsea development. Finally, we briefly discuss the origins and sequence stratigraphic context of MTDs and slides. Those similar carbonate features, debris aprons and related deposits, are described in Chapter 3 and Chapter 10.

Regional-Scale Characteristics

The term MTD is a seismic-stratigraphic term that can only be applied to features large enough to be imaged on volumetrically large seismic surveys. Such features are much larger than those that can be imaged in outcrops, yet outcrops can be helpful in unraveling the internal architecture of an MTD. There are three informal end-members for MTDs. (1) Some MTDs develop in unconfined settings from open-slope failures and can be areally quite extensive and widespread; these are common in divergent margins with major deltas. (2) Other MTDs develop from the failure of delta front or canyon walls, have extensive erosion at their base, and overlying sediment fill; these occur in both intraslope basins and in unconfined systems. (3) Still other MTDs develop from local canyon wall failures with wedges in adjacent canyons or intraslope basins.

Surficial images

The salient aspects of MTDs and slides are shown in Figures 9-1 and 9-3. In Figure 9-3, a prominent escarpment is present to the left, marking the updip edge of a major submarine slide. Within the slide mass (to the right) are distinct subparallel, elongate blocks, including rotated and thrust blocks. These form “pressure ridges.” Farther to the right (west) is an area of jumbled topography, reflecting disorganization of sediments within the MTD. Internal to an MTD, a series of discrete blocks may be present (Figure 9-3). An irregular bathymetry is present on the top of the slide and MTD.

Figure 9-3.

High-angle oblique 3D perspective of the seafloor in the Brunei deepwater margin. Display is a maximum-amplitude extraction. The large slide to the east (left) is characterized by an updip escarpment and many elongate slide masses consisting of rotated and thrust slides. Pressure ridges are interpreted to mark where contraction and thrusting occurred. These masses have subsequently been eroded and modified by currents. The MTC consists of an irregular, mounded surface. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-3.

High-angle oblique 3D perspective of the seafloor in the Brunei deepwater margin. Display is a maximum-amplitude extraction. The large slide to the east (left) is characterized by an updip escarpment and many elongate slide masses consisting of rotated and thrust slides. Pressure ridges are interpreted to mark where contraction and thrusting occurred. These masses have subsequently been eroded and modified by currents. The MTC consists of an irregular, mounded surface. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-4.

3D RMS amplitude map of 50–100 ms below the seafloor, Brunei deepwater margin. A prominent MTD is present (darker gray) that widens to the north. Inset image is an enlargement of the central part of the MTD. Several discrete blocks are present in the MTD. Locations of Figures 9-10a and 9-10b are shown. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-4.

3D RMS amplitude map of 50–100 ms below the seafloor, Brunei deepwater margin. A prominent MTD is present (darker gray) that widens to the north. Inset image is an enlargement of the central part of the MTD. Several discrete blocks are present in the MTD. Locations of Figures 9-10a and 9-10b are shown. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Many lower-resolution images of the United States’ continental margins, based on GLORIA II side-scan sonar, show similar surficial features in the areas of MTDs and slides (Schwab et al., 1991). However, those studies lack the surficial resolution and the seismic profiles of the 3D data sets.

Seismic-stratigraphic and wireline-log expressions

As with all the other elements described in this book, resolution of the sedimentary processes of MTDs and slides is largely a function of seismic resolution. In older 2D seismic data with lower frequencies (20–30 Hz), deposits that characterize MTDs and slides were commonly described as “chaotic.” However, with increasing seismic resolution (55–70 Hz frequencies), more detail can be observed within these deposits, which helps us to interpret their depositional origin and processes.

Shape and size

The shape of MTDs and slides in plan view is quite variable. Generally, MTDs tend to be slightly to considerably elongate downslope (Figures 9-3 to 9-9). The shape of the deposit probably reflects the size of the initial area that failed, the relative confinement of the basin, and the distance of downfan transportation. Slides with little downslope translation can be considerably longer in strike view than in dip view. In cross section, MTDs and slides are externally mounded to wedge shaped (Figures 9-2, 9-5 through 9-9).

Figure 9-5.

Seismic profile across an uppermost Pleistocene MTD, offshore Trinidad. Several thrust slides are present, indicating local contraction within the MTD. Vertical exaggeration is about 10:1. After Brami et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-5.

Seismic profile across an uppermost Pleistocene MTD, offshore Trinidad. Several thrust slides are present, indicating local contraction within the MTD. Vertical exaggeration is about 10:1. After Brami et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-6.

3D seismic image of an elongate MTC in the uppermost Pleistocene, offshore Trinidad. Note the several linear features indicating the location of the thrust planes, the sharp edges of the MTC, and the overlying channel. Mud volcanoes are also present along the seaf-loor. After Brami et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-6.

3D seismic image of an elongate MTC in the uppermost Pleistocene, offshore Trinidad. Note the several linear features indicating the location of the thrust planes, the sharp edges of the MTC, and the overlying channel. Mud volcanoes are also present along the seaf-loor. After Brami et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-7.

Seismic profile across one intraslope minibasin, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. The profile shows three depositional sequences, which consist of alternating deepwater elements. Chaotic reflections with poor continuity (MTC) overlie an erosional base, and are overlain by high-amplitude, laterally continuous reflections (in the lower, middle, and upper fan). These are interpreted to be sand-rich sheet deposits in the lower and middle fan and channelized facies in the upper fan. Note that the MTCes lap out against the flanks of the basin. After Beaubouef et al. (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-7.

Seismic profile across one intraslope minibasin, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. The profile shows three depositional sequences, which consist of alternating deepwater elements. Chaotic reflections with poor continuity (MTC) overlie an erosional base, and are overlain by high-amplitude, laterally continuous reflections (in the lower, middle, and upper fan). These are interpreted to be sand-rich sheet deposits in the lower and middle fan and channelized facies in the upper fan. Note that the MTCes lap out against the flanks of the basin. After Beaubouef et al. (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-8.

3D maximum-positive-amplitude maps of the basal surfaces of two separate MTDs in the shallow subsurface, Brunei deepwater margin. (a) Updip, the MTD has a narrow, elongate trend with sharp edges; this changes downdip to a more digitate pattern with sharp terminal edges. Flow direction was to the northwest. (b) The MTD has diverging, elongate features with sharp terminal edges. Flow direction was to the northeast. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-8.

3D maximum-positive-amplitude maps of the basal surfaces of two separate MTDs in the shallow subsurface, Brunei deepwater margin. (a) Updip, the MTD has a narrow, elongate trend with sharp edges; this changes downdip to a more digitate pattern with sharp terminal edges. Flow direction was to the northwest. (b) The MTD has diverging, elongate features with sharp terminal edges. Flow direction was to the northeast. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-9.

Amplitude map and seismic profiles across a shallow MTC, Brunei deepwater margin. (a) 3D RMS amplitude map extracted 20–60 ms above the base of the shallow MTC (yellow to blue interval in profiles b and c). The MTC consists of several features that were transported different distances downslope. (b) Dip-oriented seismic profile across a smaller MTC, illustrating a chaotic reflection updip that changes to possibly thrust slides downdip. The distinct, linear-thrust slides appear as the regularly spaced lineations in the map. (c) Regional, dip-oriented seismic profile across an elongate MTC, illustrating different internal facies and individual deposits. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-9.

Amplitude map and seismic profiles across a shallow MTC, Brunei deepwater margin. (a) 3D RMS amplitude map extracted 20–60 ms above the base of the shallow MTC (yellow to blue interval in profiles b and c). The MTC consists of several features that were transported different distances downslope. (b) Dip-oriented seismic profile across a smaller MTC, illustrating a chaotic reflection updip that changes to possibly thrust slides downdip. The distinct, linear-thrust slides appear as the regularly spaced lineations in the map. (c) Regional, dip-oriented seismic profile across an elongate MTC, illustrating different internal facies and individual deposits. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

The area of slides and MTDs is also quite variable. In unconfined settings, they commonly are 50–75 km (30-45 miles) across and more than 200 km (125 miles) in dip direction (Lee et al., 2004; Newton et al., 2004).

In contrast, they can be confined to one intraslope basin, as are some MTDs in the northern Gulf of Mexico that are probably 20–30 km2 (12-18 square miles) in area (Figure 9-7). In unconfined basins, they can extend for thousands of square kilometers.

The thickness of an MTD can vary from five to hundreds of meters (e.g., Kowsmann et al., 2002; McGilvery and Cook, 2003; Lee et al., 2004; Newton et al., 2004). Larger and thicker complexes are associated with large, catastrophic failure of slope margins.

The upper surface of an MTD or slide is usually irregular, indicating the bathymetry after the time of erosion (Figures 9-2, 9-3, 9-5, 9-9, 9-10). This surface then becomes filled with whatever sediments are delivered to the basin. MTDs are generally overlain by channels, overbank, and possibly sheet sands (Chapter 6 through Chapter 8) (Figures 9-2, 9-6, 9-7). In intraslope basins, there commonly are alternating series of ponded turbidite deposits with MTDs. After sediment loading of the filled intraslope basins, massive MTDs sourced from the flanks of the basin can fill the entire basin (Twichell et al., 2000). Slides can be overlain by channels, levees, or hemipelagic sediments (Figures 9-3, 9-9 to 9-11). Thus, the upper surface of MTDs and slides is often altered by channel systems and bottom currents.

Figure 9-10.

Dip-oriented seismic profiles across two portions of one MTD, deepwater Brunei. See Figure 9-4 for location of profiles. (a) Updip profile illustrates (1) high-amplitude, basal reflection of the MTD that extends across the truncated fold, (2) chaotic reflections internal to the MTD, and (3) irregular bathymetry created from the MTD. Note the extreme vertical exaggeration of the profile (about 20X). (b) Downdip seismic profile illustrates (1) gently dipping basal surface of detachment, (2) the alternating facies from high-amplitude, irregularly bedded reflections (slide blocks) and low-amplitude chaotic reflections, and (3) irregular bathymetry caused by pelagic drape over the slide blocks that were transported within the MTD. The pink bar at the left of the profile indicates the extraction interval for the amplitude map in Figure 9-4. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-10.

Dip-oriented seismic profiles across two portions of one MTD, deepwater Brunei. See Figure 9-4 for location of profiles. (a) Updip profile illustrates (1) high-amplitude, basal reflection of the MTD that extends across the truncated fold, (2) chaotic reflections internal to the MTD, and (3) irregular bathymetry created from the MTD. Note the extreme vertical exaggeration of the profile (about 20X). (b) Downdip seismic profile illustrates (1) gently dipping basal surface of detachment, (2) the alternating facies from high-amplitude, irregularly bedded reflections (slide blocks) and low-amplitude chaotic reflections, and (3) irregular bathymetry caused by pelagic drape over the slide blocks that were transported within the MTD. The pink bar at the left of the profile indicates the extraction interval for the amplitude map in Figure 9-4. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-11.

Seismic profiles across a shallow MTC (“debris-flow sheet”) in the upper Pleistocene, Makassar Straits, deepwater Indonesia. The MTC is externally mounded and overlies an irregular, erosional surface. The internal reflections are chaotic, hummocky, and possibly mounded, with poor continuity. Locations of the profiles are shown in Figure 9-12. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-11.

Seismic profiles across a shallow MTC (“debris-flow sheet”) in the upper Pleistocene, Makassar Straits, deepwater Indonesia. The MTC is externally mounded and overlies an irregular, erosional surface. The internal reflections are chaotic, hummocky, and possibly mounded, with poor continuity. Locations of the profiles are shown in Figure 9-12. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

The basal surface of an MTD is quite variable. The surface may (1) be planar, with little to no apparent erosion (Figures 9-5, 9-7, 9-10b), (2) have considerable erosional relief, resulting from removal of as much as 200 m (655 feet) of the underlying sediment (Figures 9-2, 9-9) (Weimer, 1990), or (3) have a distinct stair-step profile of erosion, where one slide has a horizontal décollement and then cuts down through the stratigraphic section to an underlying horizontal décollement. On 3D seismic, the basal surfaces can be characterized by common groove scours of various widths and distances (Figures 9-4, 9-12, 9-13) (Posamentier et al., 2000; McGilvery and Cook, 2003; Newton et al., 2004). These lineations suggest that blocks or individual clasts are being transported in the flows.

Figure 9-12.

Azimuth map of the reflection at the base of the MTC shown in Figure 9-11. Note the distinct grooves and striation marks across which the MTC has been transported. One groove is 30 m deep, 1 km wide, and 20 km long. Locations of the profiles in Figure 9-11 are shown. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-12.

Azimuth map of the reflection at the base of the MTC shown in Figure 9-11. Note the distinct grooves and striation marks across which the MTC has been transported. One groove is 30 m deep, 1 km wide, and 20 km long. Locations of the profiles in Figure 9-11 are shown. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-13.

(a) Three successive seismic profiles across a shallow MTC (“debris flow”) in the upper Pleistocene, Makassar Straits, deepwater Indonesia. Locations of the profiles are shown in (c). (b) Seismic time slice across the linear channel at the base of an MTD. (c) Azimuth map of the reflection at the base of the MTD. Note (1) the sharp lateral edges of the MTD, (2) the distinct striations and grooves indicating the direction of sediment transport, and (3) the grooves diverging down fan. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-13.

(a) Three successive seismic profiles across a shallow MTC (“debris flow”) in the upper Pleistocene, Makassar Straits, deepwater Indonesia. Locations of the profiles are shown in (c). (b) Seismic time slice across the linear channel at the base of an MTD. (c) Azimuth map of the reflection at the base of the MTD. Note (1) the sharp lateral edges of the MTD, (2) the distinct striations and grooves indicating the direction of sediment transport, and (3) the grooves diverging down fan. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Edge relations

The updip extent of slides and MTDs is marked by one or several steeply dipping master surfaces that form the head scarp and reflect the updip extension (Figure 9-3). These surfaces flatten at depth and become the décollement or glide plane for the MTD or slide. In cases where there has been considerable downslope transportation of sediment, it may be impossible to trace the slide or MTD back to the original updip failure surface.

The lateral edges of slides and MTDs vary from abrupt to gradational. An MTD commonly overlies an erosional surface, and its sediments onlap against the lateral edge of the erosional container (Figures 9-2 to 9-4, 9-8, 9-9). In some basins, the MTD onlaps onto a regional surface (Figure 9-7). Local contraction, as indicated by thrust slides, is also common at the edges of MTDs (Figures 9-5, 9-6).

The nature of the downdip termination of an MTD or slide is variable. (1) Where the slide or MTD is transported on a smooth surface, it appears to stop in place, and debris flows may form at the end. (2) Where the slide or MTD runs onto a local slope, it ends in a series of imbricate toe thrusts. (3) Where the deformed sediment (fold) loses fluids, pressure ridges may form wherever there is no local contraction to create thrusting.

Internal reflections

The seismic-stratigraphic expression of slides and MTDs varies greatly, reflecting the variability in the kinds of deposits and in their internal stratigraphy. At least four reflection patterns are common. (1) Rotated or glide blocks, where the original stratigraphy is preserved, are areas of extension and lateral translation of the blocks (Figures 9-3, 9-10, 9-14, 9-15, 9-16). In 3D, these features tend to have elongate blocks; pressure ridges can develop perpendicularly to the direction of flow (Figure 9-3). In a few places, outrunner blocks can extend in form of the largely deformed MTD (Figure 9-1). (2) Thrust blocks, where some of the original stratigraphy is preserved, reflect the ongoing contraction within the deformation (Figures 9-3, 9-5, 9-6). (3) Chaotic reflections (Figures 9-3, 9-4, 9-9, 9-10, 9-15) can occur anywhere within the slide or MTD, but they generally occur in the downslope portion of the feature, often between glide blocks. The mottled appearance on an amplitude extraction map is a characteristic seismic facies of an MTD (Figure 9-4); this facies does not really appear in other deepwater depositional settings.

Figure 9-14.

Seismic profile across the lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco. Seismic profile is flattened on the base Tertiary unconformity and illustrates the irregular relief associated with individual slide blocks. Note that the original stratigraphy is largely preserved within the glide blocks, and the onlapping and draping reflections between the glide blocks. After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC and Lee et al.

Figure 9-14.

Seismic profile across the lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco. Seismic profile is flattened on the base Tertiary unconformity and illustrates the irregular relief associated with individual slide blocks. Note that the original stratigraphy is largely preserved within the glide blocks, and the onlapping and draping reflections between the glide blocks. After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC and Lee et al.

Figure 9-15.

Seismic profile across the lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco, illustrating an individual slide block with original stratigraphy preserved that overlyeis and is encased in chaotic reflections. See Figure 9-16 for semblance slide through this interval. After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC and Charles Lee et al.

Figure 9-15.

Seismic profile across the lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco, illustrating an individual slide block with original stratigraphy preserved that overlyeis and is encased in chaotic reflections. See Figure 9-16 for semblance slide through this interval. After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC and Charles Lee et al.

Figure 9-16.

Flattened semblance slice of lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco, illustrating several discrete slide blocks within areas of less continuity (more chaotic to discontinuous reflections in Figure 9-15). After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC, Charles Lee and Lee et al.

Figure 9-16.

Flattened semblance slice of lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco, illustrating several discrete slide blocks within areas of less continuity (more chaotic to discontinuous reflections in Figure 9-15). After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC, Charles Lee and Lee et al.

A large sediment failure (about 3500 km2)(2100 square miles) in the lower slope of the Lower Cretaceous Torok Formation of northern Alaska illustrates the progressive change in deformation within one major slide (Figures 9-17, 9-18). Several distinct zones of deformation can be observed, viewing from updip to downdip (Weimer, 1987; Homza, 2004). Near the updip failure, a zone is present that consists of rotated slides, laterally transported slides, and thrust slides. Farther downdip, the deformed strata change to more mounded and chaotic reflections on 2D seismic data.

Figure 9-17.

Plan-view images of the Lower Cretaceous Fish Creek slide, northern Alaska. (a) Two-way time map of the top Sag River horizon (see Figure 9-18) superposed with coherency data. Lines A-A’ and B-B’ mark the position of shear zones in the slide blocks. Location of Figure 9-18 is shown. (b) Time slice through the Fish Creek slide illustrates the transition from organized slides to disorganized slides. Discrete rotated, translated, and thrust slides are noted by the linear trend of the blocks. The western (updip) edge of the slide is an abrupt escarpment. (c) Schematic reconstruction of the slide blocks. Average extension is estimated to be 65%, with a clockwise rotation of the slide of 10%. After Homza (2004). Reprinted with permission of AAPG and Tom Homza.

Figure 9-17.

Plan-view images of the Lower Cretaceous Fish Creek slide, northern Alaska. (a) Two-way time map of the top Sag River horizon (see Figure 9-18) superposed with coherency data. Lines A-A’ and B-B’ mark the position of shear zones in the slide blocks. Location of Figure 9-18 is shown. (b) Time slice through the Fish Creek slide illustrates the transition from organized slides to disorganized slides. Discrete rotated, translated, and thrust slides are noted by the linear trend of the blocks. The western (updip) edge of the slide is an abrupt escarpment. (c) Schematic reconstruction of the slide blocks. Average extension is estimated to be 65%, with a clockwise rotation of the slide of 10%. After Homza (2004). Reprinted with permission of AAPG and Tom Homza.

Figure 9-18.

Seismic profile across the Lower Cretaceous Fish Creek slide, northern Alaska. (a) Unflattened time profile and (b) profile flattened on the underlying Sag River reflection. Note the sharp upslope edge of the slide. Several facies are present: rotated and glide slide blocks (parallel facies) and onlap fill (low-amplitude, transparent facies) between the slide blocks. The slide is overlain by the prograding clinoforms of the Torok Formation slope. A time-based gamma-ray log from the West Fish Creek well indicates that the slide and overlying clinoform deposits are primarily shale. The irregular distribution of the reflections underlying the slide in (a) are caused by velocity pushdowns resulting from the absence of a low-velocity shale at the base of the slide. Location of the time slice shown in Figure 9-17 is shown. After Homza (2004). Reprinted with permission of AAPG and Tom Homza.

Figure 9-18.

Seismic profile across the Lower Cretaceous Fish Creek slide, northern Alaska. (a) Unflattened time profile and (b) profile flattened on the underlying Sag River reflection. Note the sharp upslope edge of the slide. Several facies are present: rotated and glide slide blocks (parallel facies) and onlap fill (low-amplitude, transparent facies) between the slide blocks. The slide is overlain by the prograding clinoforms of the Torok Formation slope. A time-based gamma-ray log from the West Fish Creek well indicates that the slide and overlying clinoform deposits are primarily shale. The irregular distribution of the reflections underlying the slide in (a) are caused by velocity pushdowns resulting from the absence of a low-velocity shale at the base of the slide. Location of the time slice shown in Figure 9-17 is shown. After Homza (2004). Reprinted with permission of AAPG and Tom Homza.

Figure 9-19.

Core summaries, and gamma-ray, resistivity, and velocity logs from ODP Leg 155 Sites 935A, 936A, and 944A from one MTD, Amazon Fan. The sites move from updip (935) to downdip (944). Each site is about 25–30 km from its neighbors. Note the overall fine-grained nature of the deposits, although some thick sands are present in site 944A. Base and top of the MTD are shown by the arrows. After Piper et al. (1997).

Figure 9-19.

Core summaries, and gamma-ray, resistivity, and velocity logs from ODP Leg 155 Sites 935A, 936A, and 944A from one MTD, Amazon Fan. The sites move from updip (935) to downdip (944). Each site is about 25–30 km from its neighbors. Note the overall fine-grained nature of the deposits, although some thick sands are present in site 944A. Base and top of the MTD are shown by the arrows. After Piper et al. (1997).

Commonly, MTDs and slides deform along a zone of inherent mechanical weakness. These décollements can have different lithologies. Doyle et al. (1992) and Dixon and Weimer (1998) noted that the décollements for many late Pleistocene slides in the northern deep Gulf of Mexico occur within, or on top of, condensed sections associated with relative highstands in sea level. Condensed sections appear to be weak geotechnical units; this weakness may have been caused by a diagenetic fabric with burrows in the foraminiferal oozes. In other basins, the condensed section has a combination of high clay content, water content, gas content generated from organic debris causing local overpressuring. In the example of the Lower Cretaceous slides in northern Alaska, two décollements have been identified (Weimer, 1987; Homza, 2004). The shallower is an organic-rich shale (with 2–6% organic matter), and the deeper zone is a shale-rich layer, about 300 ft (90 m) lower in the stratigraphic section.

Wireline-log to seismic response

The lithologies of slides and MTDs reflect the nature of the sediments that are being deformed. In general, these deposits have a high percentage of shale. MTDs and slides are routinely penetrated during drilling in deepwater, especially in the shallow section. Commonly, logs are not run in this part of the section; thus, few good published examples of MTDs exist. We show five examples here that illustrate MTDs and slides of different scales.

  1. 1.

    MTD deposits were cored at five sites in ODP Leg 155 in the Amazon Fan (Piper et al., 1997). Wireline logs (and cores) showed dominantly clay-rich intervals (Figure 9-19). Importantly, the dipmeter logs indicated a wide range in the dips of the beds, corresponding to the many directions of dip in the deformed beds (Figure 9-20a). Thus, dip-meter logs can play a significant role in an evaluation of the presence of MTDs and slides, especially in deeper sections where the features may be beneath the limit of seismic resolution.

  2. 2.

    In offshore Angola, Sikkema and Wocjik (2000) presented an example of a shale-rich MTD at the base of a depositional sequence that laps out against the sides of the basin (Figures 9-21, 9-22). The MTD is overlain by amalgamated channels, which in turn are overlain by aggradational channel-levee systems.

  3. 3.

    In the northern deep Gulf of Mexico, a significant MTD overlies the middle Miocene reservoir interval in the Thunder Horse discovery (Figures 9-23, 9-24) (Lapinski, 2003). A package of chaotic-to-mounded reflections overlies the reservoir interval. Two wells that penetrate the MTD indicate that it consists dominantly of shale. The MTD is not the seal for this reservoir, as a condensed section separates the reservoir from the MTD.

  4. 4.

    In the Lower Cretaceous Fish Creek slide of northern Alaska (Figures 9-17, 9-18), several wells have penetrated the lower-slope strata of the Torok Formation. The unde-formed lower-slope strata consist primarily of shale, with minor siltstones and sandstones. The deformed strata in the Fish Creek slide also have the same strata (Figure 9-18).

  5. 5.

    In the northwestern Gulf of Mexico Basin, several areas of major erosional embayments in the Cenozoic slope systems have been described (e.g., Morton, 1993; Edwards, 2000) (Figure 9-25a). In the upper slope of the lower Eocene Wilcox Formation in southern Texas, extensive slides formed in association with the catastrophic failure of the margin (Figure 9-25b). Edwards (2000) noted that the rotated slide blocks consist of deltaic strata from the undeformed updip section.

Figure 9-20.

Dip azimuth plots through an MTD and slide block. (a) Plot of Site 933A, ODP Leg 155, Amazon Fan. Note the relatively low dips in the overlying channel-fill sediments and in the underlying levee sediments, and the higher and somewhat random dips within the MTD (labeled BMDT) (99 to 154 ft [30 to 47 m]). After Piper et al. (1997). (b) Well in the lower Oligocene Hackberry slide block, southern Louisiana. Note the sharp increase in dip at 7510 ft (2290 m), corresponding to penetration of a rotated slide block (labeled unconformity). See Figure 9-34 for summary of the play. After Cossey and Jacobs (1992). Reprinted with permission of the AAPG.

Figure 9-20.

Dip azimuth plots through an MTD and slide block. (a) Plot of Site 933A, ODP Leg 155, Amazon Fan. Note the relatively low dips in the overlying channel-fill sediments and in the underlying levee sediments, and the higher and somewhat random dips within the MTD (labeled BMDT) (99 to 154 ft [30 to 47 m]). After Piper et al. (1997). (b) Well in the lower Oligocene Hackberry slide block, southern Louisiana. Note the sharp increase in dip at 7510 ft (2290 m), corresponding to penetration of a rotated slide block (labeled unconformity). See Figure 9-34 for summary of the play. After Cossey and Jacobs (1992). Reprinted with permission of the AAPG.

Figure 9-21.

Seismic profile from Block 16, offshore Angola. The highlighted sequence consists of an MTD (labeled “sandy debrite”) at the base, consisting of low-amplitude chaotic, mounded, and hummocky reflections overlain by amalgamated channelized and channel-levee systems. The MTD laps out against the flanks of the basin. See Figure 9-22 for a representative well through this interval. After Sikkema and Wojcik (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-21.

Seismic profile from Block 16, offshore Angola. The highlighted sequence consists of an MTD (labeled “sandy debrite”) at the base, consisting of low-amplitude chaotic, mounded, and hummocky reflections overlain by amalgamated channelized and channel-levee systems. The MTD laps out against the flanks of the basin. See Figure 9-22 for a representative well through this interval. After Sikkema and Wojcik (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-22.

Wireline log through one deepwater sequence, Block 16, Angola. The base of the sequence consists of fine-grained sediments, corresponding to the MTD at the base of the sequence. Overlying sediments consist of channelized systems (sandy debrite, amalgamated channel-fill sands). See Figure 9-21 for the representative sequence on a seismic profile. After Sikkema and Wojcik (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-22.

Wireline log through one deepwater sequence, Block 16, Angola. The base of the sequence consists of fine-grained sediments, corresponding to the MTD at the base of the sequence. Overlying sediments consist of channelized systems (sandy debrite, amalgamated channel-fill sands). See Figure 9-21 for the representative sequence on a seismic profile. After Sikkema and Wojcik (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-23.

Seismic profile across the southern portion of the Thunder Horse field, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Profile is flattened on the 13.05 Ma horizon, illustrating the turtle structure (external mound) over the Thunder Horse field area. Strata onlap (red arrows) the turtle structure on the 14.35-Ma horizon (light green). An MTC (chaotic reflections) is present between the 14.35-Ma and 13.05-Ma horizons. Inset map shows the location of the seismic profile, two wells in Figure 9-24, and an outline of shallow allochthonous salt (black line). After Lapinski (2003). Reprinted with permission of Todd Lapinski.

Figure 9-23.

Seismic profile across the southern portion of the Thunder Horse field, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Profile is flattened on the 13.05 Ma horizon, illustrating the turtle structure (external mound) over the Thunder Horse field area. Strata onlap (red arrows) the turtle structure on the 14.35-Ma horizon (light green). An MTC (chaotic reflections) is present between the 14.35-Ma and 13.05-Ma horizons. Inset map shows the location of the seismic profile, two wells in Figure 9-24, and an outline of shallow allochthonous salt (black line). After Lapinski (2003). Reprinted with permission of Todd Lapinski.

Figure 9-24.

Wireline logs for Mississippi Canyon 778 and 822 wells, Thunder Horse discovery, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Both wells penetrated the MTC shown in Figure 9-23. (a) In the MC 778 well, the MTC (20,300–21,800 ft [6190–6640 m]) consists primarily of shale with discrete zones of interbedded sands (21,400– 21,700 ft [6520 –6610 m], 20,700–20,850 ft [6310–6360 m]). (b) The MTC in the MC 822 well is dominantly shale, with a few zones of sands. See Figure 9-23 for locations of wells. After Lapinski (2003). Reprinted with permission of Todd Lapinski.

Figure 9-24.

Wireline logs for Mississippi Canyon 778 and 822 wells, Thunder Horse discovery, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Both wells penetrated the MTC shown in Figure 9-23. (a) In the MC 778 well, the MTC (20,300–21,800 ft [6190–6640 m]) consists primarily of shale with discrete zones of interbedded sands (21,400– 21,700 ft [6520 –6610 m], 20,700–20,850 ft [6310–6360 m]). (b) The MTC in the MC 822 well is dominantly shale, with a few zones of sands. See Figure 9-23 for locations of wells. After Lapinski (2003). Reprinted with permission of Todd Lapinski.

Figure 9-25.

(a) Map of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico Basin, showing the distribution of some erosional embayments caused by retrogressive failure of failed shelf margins: middle Wilcox (upper Paleocene), Yegua/Cook Mountain (upper Eocene), Hackberry (middle Oligocene), Abbeville (lower Miocene), and several Neogene features of the current Texas continental shelf.

Figure 9-25.

(a) Map of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico Basin, showing the distribution of some erosional embayments caused by retrogressive failure of failed shelf margins: middle Wilcox (upper Paleocene), Yegua/Cook Mountain (upper Eocene), Hackberry (middle Oligocene), Abbeville (lower Miocene), and several Neogene features of the current Texas continental shelf.

Figure 9-25.

(b) Dip-oriented wireline-log cross section through the middle Wilcox Formation in south Texas, illustrating how the updip stratigraphy is translated downdip in a series of rotated slide blocks. After Edwards (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies.

Figure 9-25.

(b) Dip-oriented wireline-log cross section through the middle Wilcox Formation in south Texas, illustrating how the updip stratigraphy is translated downdip in a series of rotated slide blocks. After Edwards (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies.

Development-Scale Characteristics

MTDs and slides imaged in the subsurface are considerably larger (by 3–4 orders of magnitude) than similar features exposed in outcrops or in what is traditionally collected in one core barrel or seen on an image log. Consequently, any studies of MTDs or slides are limited to the small areas of exposures in outcrop and in subsurface-development data sets.

Outcrop characteristics

Table 9-1 summarizes some of the better-exposed mass-transport and slide deposits in the geologic literature, and Figure 9-26 shows their locations. The table focuses on outcrops with good lateral exposure, where the slides are interbedded with other deepwater elements. The table is not a comprehensive list, because many deepwater outcrops contain slides at some scale.

Table 9-1.

Outcrops with significant mass transport deposits, in terms of thickness and areal extent.

Figure 9-26.

Map showing location of outcrops of mass transport deposits (orange dots) and producing fields (yellow dots) discussed in the text. The numbered outcrops correspond to those numbered in Table 9-1.

Figure 9-26.

Map showing location of outcrops of mass transport deposits (orange dots) and producing fields (yellow dots) discussed in the text. The numbered outcrops correspond to those numbered in Table 9-1.

Figure 9-27.

Photograph of a major slide complex in the Lower Permian Cutoff Formation, Delaware Mountains, west Texas. The interval consists of mixed carbonate sands and mudstones deformed into a series of recumbent folds. The interval is overlain by gently dipping strata of the upper Cutoff Formation.

Figure 9-27.

Photograph of a major slide complex in the Lower Permian Cutoff Formation, Delaware Mountains, west Texas. The interval consists of mixed carbonate sands and mudstones deformed into a series of recumbent folds. The interval is overlain by gently dipping strata of the upper Cutoff Formation.

Figure 9-28.

Photograph of the Upper Carboniferous Ross slide, western Ireland. The slide consists of a series of folded shale beds, overlain by flat-lying channel-fill strata. A prominent sandstone injection feature is present in the middle of the photograph. Strachan (2002) described the Ross slide in detail.

Figure 9-28.

Photograph of the Upper Carboniferous Ross slide, western Ireland. The slide consists of a series of folded shale beds, overlain by flat-lying channel-fill strata. A prominent sandstone injection feature is present in the middle of the photograph. Strachan (2002) described the Ross slide in detail.

In outcrop, slides consist of folded and deformed beds (Figures 9-26 to 9-29). Where the original stratigraphy is preserved, detailed structural measurements can be taken to help unravel the history of an individual slide (e.g., Kleverlaan, 1987; Strachan, 2002) and place it within a larger stratigraphic context.

Figure 9-29.

Photograph of the upper Miocene Gordo megabed, Tabernas Basin, southern Spain. Strata are deformed into a series of folds and are overlain by gently dipping channel-fill strata. Kleverlaan (1987) described the feature in detail.

Figure 9-29.

Photograph of the upper Miocene Gordo megabed, Tabernas Basin, southern Spain. Strata are deformed into a series of folds and are overlain by gently dipping channel-fill strata. Kleverlaan (1987) described the feature in detail.

Core expression and image log

Small slides, at the scale of centimeters to several meters, are common in cores and image logs from levees and channel-fill reservoirs. The thickness of the features reviewed in this chapter is greater than one core barrel (60 ft [9 m]). Because slides and MTDs are rarely reservoirs, development geoscientists generally do not want to core them or retrieve image logs from them. Consequently, there are few examples in the literature of cores through MTDs or slides.

Fortunately, ODP Leg 155 cored two MTDs at five sites in the Amazon Fan: sites 931, 933, 935, 936, and 944 (Piper et al., 1997). These cores recovered primarily clays that had extensive deformation and dipping beds and contained blocks of varying sizes (Figure 9-30). Five basic facies were described in the cores: (1) uniform mud with large blocks, (2) variable mud with inferred meter-size blocks, (3) abundant centimeter- to decimeter-size blocks, (4) sand and silt mud, and (5) contorted mud with silty laminae. Many MTDs with surficial expression in modern deepwater systems have been studied with shallow penetration cores (<5 m; 16.5 feet); similar facies have been recorded in the cores (Nelson and Nilsen, 1984).

Figure 9-30.

Photograph of cores from an MTD, ODP Leg 155, Amazon Fan. (a) Folded sediments that are the result of drilling deformation; (b) highly biotur-bated sandy interval that corresponds to a large, transported block; (c) deformed laminations resulting from rotation within blocks, and (d) a series of small faults in a laminated mud clast. After Piper et al. (1997).

Figure 9-30.

Photograph of cores from an MTD, ODP Leg 155, Amazon Fan. (a) Folded sediments that are the result of drilling deformation; (b) highly biotur-bated sandy interval that corresponds to a large, transported block; (c) deformed laminations resulting from rotation within blocks, and (d) a series of small faults in a laminated mud clast. After Piper et al. (1997).

Image logs through these features show the internal structures associated with slides and MTDs (Figure 9-31): highly deformed beds, floating clasts within debris flows, and abrupt contacts.

Figure 9-31.

Borehole-image log from an MTD cored at ODP Leg 155 Site 944A. Images indicate abrupt changes in grain size and dip azimuth and show the floating clasts. After Piper et al. (1997).

Figure 9-31.

Borehole-image log from an MTD cored at ODP Leg 155 Site 944A. Images indicate abrupt changes in grain size and dip azimuth and show the floating clasts. After Piper et al. (1997).

Examples of MTDs and Slides as Reservoirs, Seals, and Source Rocks

Slides generally are not considered to be good reservoirs, and certainly they are rarely primary exploration targets. Their extensive deformation tends to disrupt bed continuity, and the abundant amount of clay tends to destroy porosity and permeability. Where the stratigraphy of an individual slide block is preserved, multiple wells may be necessary to develop it. Our experiences indicate that many basins globally have a field that produces from MTD/slide deposit. The fields consisted of one or two wells. Few of these examples have been cited or described in any detail in the literature, so they are not included here. The point is that these features are productive of petroleum, but are rarely key targets. A few examples of reservoirs in deepwater carbonate debris aprons are included in Chapter 3 and Chapter 10. Slides blocks in chalk facies are also reviewed in Chapter 10. Here, we review two examples of fields that produce from slides, and briefly describe their potential as seals and source rocks.

The Statfjord field in the northern Viking Graben of the North Sea produces from Middle Jurassic fluvial sandstones that have been deformed by a Late Jurassic rifting (Figures 9-32a, 9-32b, and 9-33) (Hesthammer and Fossen, 1999). At the crest of the structure, a series of slide blocks formed that translated the original reservoir sands downdip to the east. These sands produce petroleum because the original stratigraphy of the slide block has been largely preserved. Deformation is interpreted to have occurred during and after rifting, when the rotated fault blocks had subsided to greater water depths.

Figure 9-32.

(a) 3D image of the top Statfjord Formation, Statfjord field, Viking Graben, North Sea. Red is shallow depths and green is the deeper depths. Image is illuminated from the west. Black indicates where the formation is missing because of slides. Bright colors indicate a dip to the northwest, and darker colors indicate a southeasterly dip. Red circles mark where wells have penetrated the detachment surface.

Figure 9-32.

(a) 3D image of the top Statfjord Formation, Statfjord field, Viking Graben, North Sea. Red is shallow depths and green is the deeper depths. Image is illuminated from the west. Black indicates where the formation is missing because of slides. Bright colors indicate a dip to the northwest, and darker colors indicate a southeasterly dip. Red circles mark where wells have penetrated the detachment surface.

Figure 9-32.

(b) Seismic profile across the eastern flank of the Stafjord field, illustrating rotated slide blocks in the Statfjord and Hegre Groups. See Figure 9-33 for evolution of the structure. After Hesthammer and Fossen (1999). Reprinted with permission of Elsevier.

Figure 9-32.

(b) Seismic profile across the eastern flank of the Stafjord field, illustrating rotated slide blocks in the Statfjord and Hegre Groups. See Figure 9-33 for evolution of the structure. After Hesthammer and Fossen (1999). Reprinted with permission of Elsevier.

Figure 9-33.

Schematic cross sections across the crest of the Statfjord field, illustrating the sequential development of the slides at the crest of the structure. (a) Localized slides developed initially on the crest within the Brent group. (b–c) With fault activation, deformation extended to a deeper stratigraphic level (Dunlin Group). (d–f) With continued movement of the fault, deformation extended to a deeper stratigraphic level (Statfjord Formation). After Hesthammer and Fossen (1999). Reprinted with permission of Elsevier.

Figure 9-33.

Schematic cross sections across the crest of the Statfjord field, illustrating the sequential development of the slides at the crest of the structure. (a) Localized slides developed initially on the crest within the Brent group. (b–c) With fault activation, deformation extended to a deeper stratigraphic level (Dunlin Group). (d–f) With continued movement of the fault, deformation extended to a deeper stratigraphic level (Statfjord Formation). After Hesthammer and Fossen (1999). Reprinted with permission of Elsevier.

A massive failure of the lower slope of the middle Oligocene Hackberry Formation of the Gulf Coast of Louisiana also has some small producing fields. Two elements there are juxtaposed: rotated slide blocks and channel-fill sediments that infilled the bathymetric lows that were created by the slides on the slope (Figure 9-34) (DiMarco and Shipp, 1991; Cossey and Jacobs, 1992). During the past few years, several small fields with 40- to 80-acre spacing and with one or two wells produce from the top of these slide blocks. The tops of individual slide blocks have prominent amplitude expressions on seismic data. No production has been established in the channel-fill facies.

Figure 9-34.

Wireline cross section across the lower Oligocene Hackberry slide blocks, southern Louisiana, Gulf Coast, U.S.A. Several small fields produce from sandstones in the top of individual slide blocks. Channel-fill strata, which onlap and overlie the slide blocks, do not produce petroleum. After Cossey and Jacobs (1992). Reprinted with permission of the AAPG.

Figure 9-34.

Wireline cross section across the lower Oligocene Hackberry slide blocks, southern Louisiana, Gulf Coast, U.S.A. Several small fields produce from sandstones in the top of individual slide blocks. Channel-fill strata, which onlap and overlie the slide blocks, do not produce petroleum. After Cossey and Jacobs (1992). Reprinted with permission of the AAPG.

MTDs have the potential of being seals for deepwater reservoirs with the high clay content. Recent discoveries in offshore Malaysia (Sabah) in northwestern Borneo indicate that MTDs are both top seals and lateral seals to some of the reservoirs. At the Kikeh and Gumusut fields, the MTDs overlying the reservoir may have originated from the overlying sequence or within the same sequence. Where channels have eroded into a MTD creating an irregular surface with bathymetric relief, the MTD may act as a lateral seal for the incised reservoir. In the future, we can expect that more fields will be discovered where MTDs are the seals.

Finally, it is quite possible that MTDs are one mechanism for the transportation of large volumes of land-derived organic material into deepwater that then serve as source rocks (Chapter 2 and Chapter 16). Some outcrop studies in Borneo indicate that some MTDs have high organic content ( P. Crevello, personal communication, 2004). Whether large enough volumes of fluids can be generated and expulsed from organic-rich MTDs for reservoirs remains to be proven.

The Role of MTDs and Slides in Drilling-Hazard Assessment and Geotechnical Studies

During the past decade, companies have increasingly used 3D seismic data for drilling-hazard assessment and geotechnical studies to plan exploration and development. These data are used to study shallow-flow problems (overpressured shallow sand bodies), to plan drilling paths, and to locate pipelines. Thus, for economic reasons, it is quite important to understand the distribution of slides and MTD deposits in the shallow subsurface. The first problem, shallow flow, is briefly summarized in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6. We discuss the two latter problems here.

Shipp et al. (2004) reviewed several deepwater margins where drilling through MTDs in the shallow subsurface (50–100 m below the seafloor) caused a significant increase in drilling time because of geotechnical aspects of the MTD. They concluded the following. (1) There are differences in degree of consolidation between MTDs and the over- and underlying parallel-bedded hemipelagic sediments. (2) Quantitative evidence indicates that MTDs are slightly overconsolidated in relation to the overlying and underlying sediments. Water content of an MTD is 15 to 20% lower than that of the overlying and underlying sediments (Piper et al., 1997). This lower value in water content (because of overcompaction) is caused by the expulsion of water during the deformation associated with MTDs and slides. (3) The increased consolidation in MTDs should be factored into well planning for the surface-conductor interval during drilling operations and for jetting operations during development drilling.

For near-surface drilling or jetting operations in deepwater settings, Shipp et al. (2004) recommended that (1) both the distribution of sediment and environment of deposition be understood prior to drilling, (2) the surface location be selected after considering the impact of the environment of deposition, and (3) the length of surface conductor casing be designed with environment of deposition in mind (e.g., shorter length of pipe for more-consolidated sediments).

Seafloor instability is a major problem for pipeline design and location (Kaluza et al., 2004). Prior to the establishment of a pipeline, seafloor studies are routinely undertaken to (1) ascertain if there is any recent sediment movement along the seafloor that can cause pipeline deformation or rupture, and (2) study the subsidence of sediments that drape areas of any mass movement. Typically, a smooth seafloor will consist of late Pleistocene MTDs and slides that are draped by Holocene sediments varying in thickness from two to tens of meters. These hemipelagic sediments can subside differentially across the underlying MTD, thus causing potential engineering problems. Such problems can be addressed by using the appropriate relative stoutness or flexibility of pipe and by building bridges for the pipes across these potentially problematic areas (an extremely expensive proposition).

Origins of MTDs and Slides

MTDs and slides form from multiple processes. This subject is largely academic, because we are incapable of observing when and how these features form. Consequently, we must speculate about their origin and be cognizant that we do not have all the answers yet.

Several publications summarize the causal mechanisms for slides and MTDs (e.g., Schwab et al., 1991, Morton, 1993; Hampton et al., 1996; Hesthammer and Fossen, 1999; Locat and Mienert, 2003; Marine Geology, 2004). Ultimately, however, the basic cause of all mass movement is overpressured sediment that deforms to reduce the pressure, and the presence of a potentially weak surface of deformation. Several general causes have been cited.

  1. 1.

    Rapid sedimentation has been described as causing slides in many different settings, especially in deltaic settings (Coleman et al., 1983).

  2. 2.

    The formation of submarine canyons from retrogressive slides can contribute the bulk of the sediments in MTDs (Goodwin and Prior, 1989; Weimer, 1990).

  3. 3.

    Piper et al. (1997) suggested that the origins of the MTDs studied in the Amazon Fan were associated with gas-hydrate decompression and sublimation. More recently, this topic has drawn considerable attention in the geologic literature for causes of slides and potential causes of abrupt climatic changes.

  4. 4.

    Earthquakes have been cited for generating slides in many places. A magnitude 6.8 earthquake in Algeria on May 21, 2003, generated large mass-movement flows on the continental slope, thereby causing 60 cable breaks on the slope. The Grand Banks Earthquake of 1929 is also commonly cited as having induced a slide (Heezen and Ewing, 1952; Piper et al., 1988). In both examples, the timing of the earthquake and the cable breaks indicates that the mass flows were generated in association with the earthquake.

  5. 5.

    Deep ocean currents have been suggested as a cause for some slides (Embley, 1982). Currents are interpreted to have eroded sediments at the base of the continental slope, thereby causing oversteepening and deformation.

  6. 6.

    Meteorite impacts are rare but have been interpreted to cause major slides. Examples include the end-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact in Mexico (Grajales-Nishimura et al., 2000) and the Early Cretaceous Avak impact of northern Alaska (Kirschner et al., 1992; Homza, 2004).

Sequence Stratigraphic Occurrence of MTDs and Slides

As we stated in the definitions of MTDs and slides at the beginning of this chapter, some of these features definitely develop within certain positions in a sequence stratigraphic framework (allocyclic control), whereas others clearly do not (autocyclic control). Where they clearly fit into a sequence stratigraphic framework, they have been called “mass-transport complex” (MTC) (Weimer, 1989, 1990).

MTCs appear to have an allocyclic control on the timing of their sedimentation. This interpretation is largely based on their stratigraphic position and occurrence within one deposi-tional sequence. The key observations are that (1) the MTCs overlie an erosional surface, (2) this surface erodes the condensed section interpreted to have been deposited during relative highstands in sea level, (3) the MTC is overlain by channel-fill, levee-overbank, and sheet sediments, (4) the MTC can be traced to an updip submarine canyon from which it originated, and (5) canyon formation is interpreted to have occurred during relative lowering of sea level (Figure 9-2). Thus, MTCes are considered to be a part of the early lowstand systems tract in a sequence stratigraphic framework (Chapter 3).

Some slides occur within the overbank sediments of one depositional sequence (Chapter 7). The slides may be local in origin, or they may have been transported from ups-lope. Because these slides do not occur at the base of a depositional sequence, they are interpreted to have formed as the result of autocyclic processes, such as deformation from overpressured sediments.

However, the timing of most slides is extremely difficult to determine. Some clearly have formed during relative highstands in sea level (TST and HST), whereas the timing of oth-ers—especially older, buried ones—is impossible to determine.

Summary: Lessons learned

  1. 1.

    MTDs and slides are an important portion of deepwater basin fill. In the upper Pleistocene strata of many deepwater margins, they can constitute as much as 50% of the sediments.

  2. 2.

    For petroleum geoscientists, the most important reason to understand MTDs and slides is for drilling-hazard assessment and geotechnical studies conducted for exploration and development planning. Generally, these features are overcompacted, in contrast to the over- and underlying sediments. This overcompaction can cause a decrease in drilling rate, as well as problems with conductor pipe. Differential subsidence of hemipelagic sediments draping MTDs and slides along the seafloor can also cause significant problems with pipeline locations.

  3. 3.

    On seismic data, several different deposits are recognized. In an updip setting, rotated slides, glide blocks, or thrust slides are present. Moving downdip, increasing disorganization occurs with chaotic reflections.

  4. 4.

    The lithologies of MTDs and slides reflect the nature of the sediments that have been deformed. Generally, these include outer-shelf to deep-marine strata. Consequently, most MTDs and slides are interpreted as being shale-rich. Dipmeter logs can be most helpful in distinguishing the deformed zones from nondeformed intervals.

  5. 5.

    The sizes of most MTDs and slides in the subsurface are considerably larger than any outcrop exposures. However, outcrop studies can help us understand the details of deformation and sedimentation within these features.

  6. 6.

    Cores and borehole images record the deformed nature of these features. The sediments are extensively folded and deformed.

  7. 7.

    Generally, MTDs and slides are poor reservoirs because of their poor continuity and the destruction of their permeability. Only a few examples are known in which slides and MTDs are the primary reservoirs.

  8. 8.

    Slides and MTDs have multiple origins, including sediment overpressuring, rapid sedimentation rates, submarine canyon formation and downslope transportation of materials, gas-hydrate decompression and sublimation, deep-marine erosion by currents, and induction by earthquakes and meteorite impacts. Determining the origin of slides and MTDs is extremely difficult, especially once they have been buried in the subsurface.

  9. 9.

    The timing of MTD and slide formation is variable. MTDs are sediments that occur at the base of a depositional sequence as part of the earliest lowstand systems tract. In other settings, slides appear to develop during other relative positions of sea level (TST and HST). In most cases, the timing of sedimentation and deformation cannot be determined.

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Figures & Tables

Figure 9-1.

Schematic figure illustrating the different facies present in mass-transport deposits. Deposits include slide blocks (rotated, glide, thrust), and areas of chaotic sediments, interpreted as debris flows. Individual glide blocks are present within a more deformed matrix. Modified from Prior et al. (1984).

Figure 9-1.

Schematic figure illustrating the different facies present in mass-transport deposits. Deposits include slide blocks (rotated, glide, thrust), and areas of chaotic sediments, interpreted as debris flows. Individual glide blocks are present within a more deformed matrix. Modified from Prior et al. (1984).

Figure 9-2.

Seismic profile across an upper Pleistocene sequence (ca. 0.5 Ma) in the Mississippi Fan, northern deep Gulf of Mexico: (a) uninterpreted, (b) interpreted. Key elements are a mass-transport complex (MTC) at the base, overlain by channel-fill and levee-overbank sediments. The MTC has an externally mounded form. Internal reflections are mounded, hummocky, and chaotic, with poor continuity, indicating poor reservoir potential. The MTC overlies an erosional sequence boundary and laps out against the eroded portion of the underlying sequence to the east and west. The top of the MTC is an irregular surface that has been eroded into several channels (high-amplitude reflections). After Weimer (1990). Reprinted with permission of AAPG.

Figure 9-2.

Seismic profile across an upper Pleistocene sequence (ca. 0.5 Ma) in the Mississippi Fan, northern deep Gulf of Mexico: (a) uninterpreted, (b) interpreted. Key elements are a mass-transport complex (MTC) at the base, overlain by channel-fill and levee-overbank sediments. The MTC has an externally mounded form. Internal reflections are mounded, hummocky, and chaotic, with poor continuity, indicating poor reservoir potential. The MTC overlies an erosional sequence boundary and laps out against the eroded portion of the underlying sequence to the east and west. The top of the MTC is an irregular surface that has been eroded into several channels (high-amplitude reflections). After Weimer (1990). Reprinted with permission of AAPG.

Figure 9-3.

High-angle oblique 3D perspective of the seafloor in the Brunei deepwater margin. Display is a maximum-amplitude extraction. The large slide to the east (left) is characterized by an updip escarpment and many elongate slide masses consisting of rotated and thrust slides. Pressure ridges are interpreted to mark where contraction and thrusting occurred. These masses have subsequently been eroded and modified by currents. The MTC consists of an irregular, mounded surface. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-3.

High-angle oblique 3D perspective of the seafloor in the Brunei deepwater margin. Display is a maximum-amplitude extraction. The large slide to the east (left) is characterized by an updip escarpment and many elongate slide masses consisting of rotated and thrust slides. Pressure ridges are interpreted to mark where contraction and thrusting occurred. These masses have subsequently been eroded and modified by currents. The MTC consists of an irregular, mounded surface. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-4.

3D RMS amplitude map of 50–100 ms below the seafloor, Brunei deepwater margin. A prominent MTD is present (darker gray) that widens to the north. Inset image is an enlargement of the central part of the MTD. Several discrete blocks are present in the MTD. Locations of Figures 9-10a and 9-10b are shown. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-4.

3D RMS amplitude map of 50–100 ms below the seafloor, Brunei deepwater margin. A prominent MTD is present (darker gray) that widens to the north. Inset image is an enlargement of the central part of the MTD. Several discrete blocks are present in the MTD. Locations of Figures 9-10a and 9-10b are shown. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-5.

Seismic profile across an uppermost Pleistocene MTD, offshore Trinidad. Several thrust slides are present, indicating local contraction within the MTD. Vertical exaggeration is about 10:1. After Brami et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-5.

Seismic profile across an uppermost Pleistocene MTD, offshore Trinidad. Several thrust slides are present, indicating local contraction within the MTD. Vertical exaggeration is about 10:1. After Brami et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-6.

3D seismic image of an elongate MTC in the uppermost Pleistocene, offshore Trinidad. Note the several linear features indicating the location of the thrust planes, the sharp edges of the MTC, and the overlying channel. Mud volcanoes are also present along the seaf-loor. After Brami et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-6.

3D seismic image of an elongate MTC in the uppermost Pleistocene, offshore Trinidad. Note the several linear features indicating the location of the thrust planes, the sharp edges of the MTC, and the overlying channel. Mud volcanoes are also present along the seaf-loor. After Brami et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-7.

Seismic profile across one intraslope minibasin, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. The profile shows three depositional sequences, which consist of alternating deepwater elements. Chaotic reflections with poor continuity (MTC) overlie an erosional base, and are overlain by high-amplitude, laterally continuous reflections (in the lower, middle, and upper fan). These are interpreted to be sand-rich sheet deposits in the lower and middle fan and channelized facies in the upper fan. Note that the MTCes lap out against the flanks of the basin. After Beaubouef et al. (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-7.

Seismic profile across one intraslope minibasin, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. The profile shows three depositional sequences, which consist of alternating deepwater elements. Chaotic reflections with poor continuity (MTC) overlie an erosional base, and are overlain by high-amplitude, laterally continuous reflections (in the lower, middle, and upper fan). These are interpreted to be sand-rich sheet deposits in the lower and middle fan and channelized facies in the upper fan. Note that the MTCes lap out against the flanks of the basin. After Beaubouef et al. (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-8.

3D maximum-positive-amplitude maps of the basal surfaces of two separate MTDs in the shallow subsurface, Brunei deepwater margin. (a) Updip, the MTD has a narrow, elongate trend with sharp edges; this changes downdip to a more digitate pattern with sharp terminal edges. Flow direction was to the northwest. (b) The MTD has diverging, elongate features with sharp terminal edges. Flow direction was to the northeast. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-8.

3D maximum-positive-amplitude maps of the basal surfaces of two separate MTDs in the shallow subsurface, Brunei deepwater margin. (a) Updip, the MTD has a narrow, elongate trend with sharp edges; this changes downdip to a more digitate pattern with sharp terminal edges. Flow direction was to the northwest. (b) The MTD has diverging, elongate features with sharp terminal edges. Flow direction was to the northeast. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-9.

Amplitude map and seismic profiles across a shallow MTC, Brunei deepwater margin. (a) 3D RMS amplitude map extracted 20–60 ms above the base of the shallow MTC (yellow to blue interval in profiles b and c). The MTC consists of several features that were transported different distances downslope. (b) Dip-oriented seismic profile across a smaller MTC, illustrating a chaotic reflection updip that changes to possibly thrust slides downdip. The distinct, linear-thrust slides appear as the regularly spaced lineations in the map. (c) Regional, dip-oriented seismic profile across an elongate MTC, illustrating different internal facies and individual deposits. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-9.

Amplitude map and seismic profiles across a shallow MTC, Brunei deepwater margin. (a) 3D RMS amplitude map extracted 20–60 ms above the base of the shallow MTC (yellow to blue interval in profiles b and c). The MTC consists of several features that were transported different distances downslope. (b) Dip-oriented seismic profile across a smaller MTC, illustrating a chaotic reflection updip that changes to possibly thrust slides downdip. The distinct, linear-thrust slides appear as the regularly spaced lineations in the map. (c) Regional, dip-oriented seismic profile across an elongate MTC, illustrating different internal facies and individual deposits. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-10.

Dip-oriented seismic profiles across two portions of one MTD, deepwater Brunei. See Figure 9-4 for location of profiles. (a) Updip profile illustrates (1) high-amplitude, basal reflection of the MTD that extends across the truncated fold, (2) chaotic reflections internal to the MTD, and (3) irregular bathymetry created from the MTD. Note the extreme vertical exaggeration of the profile (about 20X). (b) Downdip seismic profile illustrates (1) gently dipping basal surface of detachment, (2) the alternating facies from high-amplitude, irregularly bedded reflections (slide blocks) and low-amplitude chaotic reflections, and (3) irregular bathymetry caused by pelagic drape over the slide blocks that were transported within the MTD. The pink bar at the left of the profile indicates the extraction interval for the amplitude map in Figure 9-4. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-10.

Dip-oriented seismic profiles across two portions of one MTD, deepwater Brunei. See Figure 9-4 for location of profiles. (a) Updip profile illustrates (1) high-amplitude, basal reflection of the MTD that extends across the truncated fold, (2) chaotic reflections internal to the MTD, and (3) irregular bathymetry created from the MTD. Note the extreme vertical exaggeration of the profile (about 20X). (b) Downdip seismic profile illustrates (1) gently dipping basal surface of detachment, (2) the alternating facies from high-amplitude, irregularly bedded reflections (slide blocks) and low-amplitude chaotic reflections, and (3) irregular bathymetry caused by pelagic drape over the slide blocks that were transported within the MTD. The pink bar at the left of the profile indicates the extraction interval for the amplitude map in Figure 9-4. After McGilvery and Cook (2003). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-11.

Seismic profiles across a shallow MTC (“debris-flow sheet”) in the upper Pleistocene, Makassar Straits, deepwater Indonesia. The MTC is externally mounded and overlies an irregular, erosional surface. The internal reflections are chaotic, hummocky, and possibly mounded, with poor continuity. Locations of the profiles are shown in Figure 9-12. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-11.

Seismic profiles across a shallow MTC (“debris-flow sheet”) in the upper Pleistocene, Makassar Straits, deepwater Indonesia. The MTC is externally mounded and overlies an irregular, erosional surface. The internal reflections are chaotic, hummocky, and possibly mounded, with poor continuity. Locations of the profiles are shown in Figure 9-12. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-12.

Azimuth map of the reflection at the base of the MTC shown in Figure 9-11. Note the distinct grooves and striation marks across which the MTC has been transported. One groove is 30 m deep, 1 km wide, and 20 km long. Locations of the profiles in Figure 9-11 are shown. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-12.

Azimuth map of the reflection at the base of the MTC shown in Figure 9-11. Note the distinct grooves and striation marks across which the MTC has been transported. One groove is 30 m deep, 1 km wide, and 20 km long. Locations of the profiles in Figure 9-11 are shown. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-13.

(a) Three successive seismic profiles across a shallow MTC (“debris flow”) in the upper Pleistocene, Makassar Straits, deepwater Indonesia. Locations of the profiles are shown in (c). (b) Seismic time slice across the linear channel at the base of an MTD. (c) Azimuth map of the reflection at the base of the MTD. Note (1) the sharp lateral edges of the MTD, (2) the distinct striations and grooves indicating the direction of sediment transport, and (3) the grooves diverging down fan. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-13.

(a) Three successive seismic profiles across a shallow MTC (“debris flow”) in the upper Pleistocene, Makassar Straits, deepwater Indonesia. Locations of the profiles are shown in (c). (b) Seismic time slice across the linear channel at the base of an MTD. (c) Azimuth map of the reflection at the base of the MTD. Note (1) the sharp lateral edges of the MTD, (2) the distinct striations and grooves indicating the direction of sediment transport, and (3) the grooves diverging down fan. After Posamentier et al. (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-14.

Seismic profile across the lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco. Seismic profile is flattened on the base Tertiary unconformity and illustrates the irregular relief associated with individual slide blocks. Note that the original stratigraphy is largely preserved within the glide blocks, and the onlapping and draping reflections between the glide blocks. After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC and Lee et al.

Figure 9-14.

Seismic profile across the lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco. Seismic profile is flattened on the base Tertiary unconformity and illustrates the irregular relief associated with individual slide blocks. Note that the original stratigraphy is largely preserved within the glide blocks, and the onlapping and draping reflections between the glide blocks. After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC and Lee et al.

Figure 9-15.

Seismic profile across the lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco, illustrating an individual slide block with original stratigraphy preserved that overlyeis and is encased in chaotic reflections. See Figure 9-16 for semblance slide through this interval. After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC and Charles Lee et al.

Figure 9-15.

Seismic profile across the lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco, illustrating an individual slide block with original stratigraphy preserved that overlyeis and is encased in chaotic reflections. See Figure 9-16 for semblance slide through this interval. After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC and Charles Lee et al.

Figure 9-16.

Flattened semblance slice of lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco, illustrating several discrete slide blocks within areas of less continuity (more chaotic to discontinuous reflections in Figure 9-15). After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC, Charles Lee and Lee et al.

Figure 9-16.

Flattened semblance slice of lower Paleocene strata, offshore Morocco, illustrating several discrete slide blocks within areas of less continuity (more chaotic to discontinuous reflections in Figure 9-15). After Lee et al., (2004). Reprinted with permission of OTC, Charles Lee and Lee et al.

Figure 9-17.

Plan-view images of the Lower Cretaceous Fish Creek slide, northern Alaska. (a) Two-way time map of the top Sag River horizon (see Figure 9-18) superposed with coherency data. Lines A-A’ and B-B’ mark the position of shear zones in the slide blocks. Location of Figure 9-18 is shown. (b) Time slice through the Fish Creek slide illustrates the transition from organized slides to disorganized slides. Discrete rotated, translated, and thrust slides are noted by the linear trend of the blocks. The western (updip) edge of the slide is an abrupt escarpment. (c) Schematic reconstruction of the slide blocks. Average extension is estimated to be 65%, with a clockwise rotation of the slide of 10%. After Homza (2004). Reprinted with permission of AAPG and Tom Homza.

Figure 9-17.

Plan-view images of the Lower Cretaceous Fish Creek slide, northern Alaska. (a) Two-way time map of the top Sag River horizon (see Figure 9-18) superposed with coherency data. Lines A-A’ and B-B’ mark the position of shear zones in the slide blocks. Location of Figure 9-18 is shown. (b) Time slice through the Fish Creek slide illustrates the transition from organized slides to disorganized slides. Discrete rotated, translated, and thrust slides are noted by the linear trend of the blocks. The western (updip) edge of the slide is an abrupt escarpment. (c) Schematic reconstruction of the slide blocks. Average extension is estimated to be 65%, with a clockwise rotation of the slide of 10%. After Homza (2004). Reprinted with permission of AAPG and Tom Homza.

Figure 9-18.

Seismic profile across the Lower Cretaceous Fish Creek slide, northern Alaska. (a) Unflattened time profile and (b) profile flattened on the underlying Sag River reflection. Note the sharp upslope edge of the slide. Several facies are present: rotated and glide slide blocks (parallel facies) and onlap fill (low-amplitude, transparent facies) between the slide blocks. The slide is overlain by the prograding clinoforms of the Torok Formation slope. A time-based gamma-ray log from the West Fish Creek well indicates that the slide and overlying clinoform deposits are primarily shale. The irregular distribution of the reflections underlying the slide in (a) are caused by velocity pushdowns resulting from the absence of a low-velocity shale at the base of the slide. Location of the time slice shown in Figure 9-17 is shown. After Homza (2004). Reprinted with permission of AAPG and Tom Homza.

Figure 9-18.

Seismic profile across the Lower Cretaceous Fish Creek slide, northern Alaska. (a) Unflattened time profile and (b) profile flattened on the underlying Sag River reflection. Note the sharp upslope edge of the slide. Several facies are present: rotated and glide slide blocks (parallel facies) and onlap fill (low-amplitude, transparent facies) between the slide blocks. The slide is overlain by the prograding clinoforms of the Torok Formation slope. A time-based gamma-ray log from the West Fish Creek well indicates that the slide and overlying clinoform deposits are primarily shale. The irregular distribution of the reflections underlying the slide in (a) are caused by velocity pushdowns resulting from the absence of a low-velocity shale at the base of the slide. Location of the time slice shown in Figure 9-17 is shown. After Homza (2004). Reprinted with permission of AAPG and Tom Homza.

Figure 9-19.

Core summaries, and gamma-ray, resistivity, and velocity logs from ODP Leg 155 Sites 935A, 936A, and 944A from one MTD, Amazon Fan. The sites move from updip (935) to downdip (944). Each site is about 25–30 km from its neighbors. Note the overall fine-grained nature of the deposits, although some thick sands are present in site 944A. Base and top of the MTD are shown by the arrows. After Piper et al. (1997).

Figure 9-19.

Core summaries, and gamma-ray, resistivity, and velocity logs from ODP Leg 155 Sites 935A, 936A, and 944A from one MTD, Amazon Fan. The sites move from updip (935) to downdip (944). Each site is about 25–30 km from its neighbors. Note the overall fine-grained nature of the deposits, although some thick sands are present in site 944A. Base and top of the MTD are shown by the arrows. After Piper et al. (1997).

Figure 9-20.

Dip azimuth plots through an MTD and slide block. (a) Plot of Site 933A, ODP Leg 155, Amazon Fan. Note the relatively low dips in the overlying channel-fill sediments and in the underlying levee sediments, and the higher and somewhat random dips within the MTD (labeled BMDT) (99 to 154 ft [30 to 47 m]). After Piper et al. (1997). (b) Well in the lower Oligocene Hackberry slide block, southern Louisiana. Note the sharp increase in dip at 7510 ft (2290 m), corresponding to penetration of a rotated slide block (labeled unconformity). See Figure 9-34 for summary of the play. After Cossey and Jacobs (1992). Reprinted with permission of the AAPG.

Figure 9-20.

Dip azimuth plots through an MTD and slide block. (a) Plot of Site 933A, ODP Leg 155, Amazon Fan. Note the relatively low dips in the overlying channel-fill sediments and in the underlying levee sediments, and the higher and somewhat random dips within the MTD (labeled BMDT) (99 to 154 ft [30 to 47 m]). After Piper et al. (1997). (b) Well in the lower Oligocene Hackberry slide block, southern Louisiana. Note the sharp increase in dip at 7510 ft (2290 m), corresponding to penetration of a rotated slide block (labeled unconformity). See Figure 9-34 for summary of the play. After Cossey and Jacobs (1992). Reprinted with permission of the AAPG.

Figure 9-21.

Seismic profile from Block 16, offshore Angola. The highlighted sequence consists of an MTD (labeled “sandy debrite”) at the base, consisting of low-amplitude chaotic, mounded, and hummocky reflections overlain by amalgamated channelized and channel-levee systems. The MTD laps out against the flanks of the basin. See Figure 9-22 for a representative well through this interval. After Sikkema and Wojcik (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-21.

Seismic profile from Block 16, offshore Angola. The highlighted sequence consists of an MTD (labeled “sandy debrite”) at the base, consisting of low-amplitude chaotic, mounded, and hummocky reflections overlain by amalgamated channelized and channel-levee systems. The MTD laps out against the flanks of the basin. See Figure 9-22 for a representative well through this interval. After Sikkema and Wojcik (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-22.

Wireline log through one deepwater sequence, Block 16, Angola. The base of the sequence consists of fine-grained sediments, corresponding to the MTD at the base of the sequence. Overlying sediments consist of channelized systems (sandy debrite, amalgamated channel-fill sands). See Figure 9-21 for the representative sequence on a seismic profile. After Sikkema and Wojcik (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-22.

Wireline log through one deepwater sequence, Block 16, Angola. The base of the sequence consists of fine-grained sediments, corresponding to the MTD at the base of the sequence. Overlying sediments consist of channelized systems (sandy debrite, amalgamated channel-fill sands). See Figure 9-21 for the representative sequence on a seismic profile. After Sikkema and Wojcik (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Section SEPM Foundation.

Figure 9-23.

Seismic profile across the southern portion of the Thunder Horse field, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Profile is flattened on the 13.05 Ma horizon, illustrating the turtle structure (external mound) over the Thunder Horse field area. Strata onlap (red arrows) the turtle structure on the 14.35-Ma horizon (light green). An MTC (chaotic reflections) is present between the 14.35-Ma and 13.05-Ma horizons. Inset map shows the location of the seismic profile, two wells in Figure 9-24, and an outline of shallow allochthonous salt (black line). After Lapinski (2003). Reprinted with permission of Todd Lapinski.

Figure 9-23.

Seismic profile across the southern portion of the Thunder Horse field, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Profile is flattened on the 13.05 Ma horizon, illustrating the turtle structure (external mound) over the Thunder Horse field area. Strata onlap (red arrows) the turtle structure on the 14.35-Ma horizon (light green). An MTC (chaotic reflections) is present between the 14.35-Ma and 13.05-Ma horizons. Inset map shows the location of the seismic profile, two wells in Figure 9-24, and an outline of shallow allochthonous salt (black line). After Lapinski (2003). Reprinted with permission of Todd Lapinski.

Figure 9-24.

Wireline logs for Mississippi Canyon 778 and 822 wells, Thunder Horse discovery, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Both wells penetrated the MTC shown in Figure 9-23. (a) In the MC 778 well, the MTC (20,300–21,800 ft [6190–6640 m]) consists primarily of shale with discrete zones of interbedded sands (21,400– 21,700 ft [6520 –6610 m], 20,700–20,850 ft [6310–6360 m]). (b) The MTC in the MC 822 well is dominantly shale, with a few zones of sands. See Figure 9-23 for locations of wells. After Lapinski (2003). Reprinted with permission of Todd Lapinski.

Figure 9-24.

Wireline logs for Mississippi Canyon 778 and 822 wells, Thunder Horse discovery, northern deep Gulf of Mexico. Both wells penetrated the MTC shown in Figure 9-23. (a) In the MC 778 well, the MTC (20,300–21,800 ft [6190–6640 m]) consists primarily of shale with discrete zones of interbedded sands (21,400– 21,700 ft [6520 –6610 m], 20,700–20,850 ft [6310–6360 m]). (b) The MTC in the MC 822 well is dominantly shale, with a few zones of sands. See Figure 9-23 for locations of wells. After Lapinski (2003). Reprinted with permission of Todd Lapinski.

Figure 9-25.

(a) Map of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico Basin, showing the distribution of some erosional embayments caused by retrogressive failure of failed shelf margins: middle Wilcox (upper Paleocene), Yegua/Cook Mountain (upper Eocene), Hackberry (middle Oligocene), Abbeville (lower Miocene), and several Neogene features of the current Texas continental shelf.

Figure 9-25.

(a) Map of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico Basin, showing the distribution of some erosional embayments caused by retrogressive failure of failed shelf margins: middle Wilcox (upper Paleocene), Yegua/Cook Mountain (upper Eocene), Hackberry (middle Oligocene), Abbeville (lower Miocene), and several Neogene features of the current Texas continental shelf.

Figure 9-25.

(b) Dip-oriented wireline-log cross section through the middle Wilcox Formation in south Texas, illustrating how the updip stratigraphy is translated downdip in a series of rotated slide blocks. After Edwards (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies.

Figure 9-25.

(b) Dip-oriented wireline-log cross section through the middle Wilcox Formation in south Texas, illustrating how the updip stratigraphy is translated downdip in a series of rotated slide blocks. After Edwards (2000). Reprinted with permission of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies.

Figure 9-26.

Map showing location of outcrops of mass transport deposits (orange dots) and producing fields (yellow dots) discussed in the text. The numbered outcrops correspond to those numbered in Table 9-1.

Figure 9-26.

Map showing location of outcrops of mass transport deposits (orange dots) and producing fields (yellow dots) discussed in the text. The numbered outcrops correspond to those numbered in Table 9-1.

Figure 9-27.

Photograph of a major slide complex in the Lower Permian Cutoff Formation, Delaware Mountains, west Texas. The interval consists of mixed carbonate sands and mudstones deformed into a series of recumbent folds. The interval is overlain by gently dipping strata of the upper Cutoff Formation.

Figure 9-27.

Photograph of a major slide complex in the Lower Permian Cutoff Formation, Delaware Mountains, west Texas. The interval consists of mixed carbonate sands and mudstones deformed into a series of recumbent folds. The interval is overlain by gently dipping strata of the upper Cutoff Formation.

Figure 9-28.

Photograph of the Upper Carboniferous Ross slide, western Ireland. The slide consists of a series of folded shale beds, overlain by flat-lying channel-fill strata. A prominent sandstone injection feature is present in the middle of the photograph. Strachan (2002) described the Ross slide in detail.

Figure 9-28.

Photograph of the Upper Carboniferous Ross slide, western Ireland. The slide consists of a series of folded shale beds, overlain by flat-lying channel-fill strata. A prominent sandstone injection feature is present in the middle of the photograph. Strachan (2002) described the Ross slide in detail.

Figure 9-29.

Photograph of the upper Miocene Gordo megabed, Tabernas Basin, southern Spain. Strata are deformed into a series of folds and are overlain by gently dipping channel-fill strata. Kleverlaan (1987) described the feature in detail.

Figure 9-29.

Photograph of the upper Miocene Gordo megabed, Tabernas Basin, southern Spain. Strata are deformed into a series of folds and are overlain by gently dipping channel-fill strata. Kleverlaan (1987) described the feature in detail.

Figure 9-30.

Photograph of cores from an MTD, ODP Leg 155, Amazon Fan. (a) Folded sediments that are the result of drilling deformation; (b) highly biotur-bated sandy interval that corresponds to a large, transported block; (c) deformed laminations resulting from rotation within blocks, and (d) a series of small faults in a laminated mud clast. After Piper et al. (1997).

Figure 9-30.

Photograph of cores from an MTD, ODP Leg 155, Amazon Fan. (a) Folded sediments that are the result of drilling deformation; (b) highly biotur-bated sandy interval that corresponds to a large, transported block; (c) deformed laminations resulting from rotation within blocks, and (d) a series of small faults in a laminated mud clast. After Piper et al. (1997).

Figure 9-31.

Borehole-image log from an MTD cored at ODP Leg 155 Site 944A. Images indicate abrupt changes in grain size and dip azimuth and show the floating clasts. After Piper et al. (1997).

Figure 9-31.

Borehole-image log from an MTD cored at ODP Leg 155 Site 944A. Images indicate abrupt changes in grain size and dip azimuth and show the floating clasts. After Piper et al. (1997).

Figure 9-32.

(a) 3D image of the top Statfjord Formation, Statfjord field, Viking Graben, North Sea. Red is shallow depths and green is the deeper depths. Image is illuminated from the west. Black indicates where the formation is missing because of slides. Bright colors indicate a dip to the northwest, and darker colors indicate a southeasterly dip. Red circles mark where wells have penetrated the detachment surface.

Figure 9-32.

(a) 3D image of the top Statfjord Formation, Statfjord field, Viking Graben, North Sea. Red is shallow depths and green is the deeper depths. Image is illuminated from the west. Black indicates where the formation is missing because of slides. Bright colors indicate a dip to the northwest, and darker colors indicate a southeasterly dip. Red circles mark where wells have penetrated the detachment surface.

Figure 9-32.

(b) Seismic profile across the eastern flank of the Stafjord field, illustrating rotated slide blocks in the Statfjord and Hegre Groups. See Figure 9-33 for evolution of the structure. After Hesthammer and Fossen (1999). Reprinted with permission of Elsevier.

Figure 9-32.

(b) Seismic profile across the eastern flank of the Stafjord field, illustrating rotated slide blocks in the Statfjord and Hegre Groups. See Figure 9-33 for evolution of the structure. After Hesthammer and Fossen (1999). Reprinted with permission of Elsevier.

Figure 9-33.

Schematic cross sections across the crest of the Statfjord field, illustrating the sequential development of the slides at the crest of the structure. (a) Localized slides developed initially on the crest within the Brent group. (b–c) With fault activation, deformation extended to a deeper stratigraphic level (Dunlin Group). (d–f) With continued movement of the fault, deformation extended to a deeper stratigraphic level (Statfjord Formation). After Hesthammer and Fossen (1999). Reprinted with permission of Elsevier.

Figure 9-33.

Schematic cross sections across the crest of the Statfjord field, illustrating the sequential development of the slides at the crest of the structure. (a) Localized slides developed initially on the crest within the Brent group. (b–c) With fault activation, deformation extended to a deeper stratigraphic level (Dunlin Group). (d–f) With continued movement of the fault, deformation extended to a deeper stratigraphic level (Statfjord Formation). After Hesthammer and Fossen (1999). Reprinted with permission of Elsevier.

Figure 9-34.

Wireline cross section across the lower Oligocene Hackberry slide blocks, southern Louisiana, Gulf Coast, U.S.A. Several small fields produce from sandstones in the top of individual slide blocks. Channel-fill strata, which onlap and overlie the slide blocks, do not produce petroleum. After Cossey and Jacobs (1992). Reprinted with permission of the AAPG.

Figure 9-34.

Wireline cross section across the lower Oligocene Hackberry slide blocks, southern Louisiana, Gulf Coast, U.S.A. Several small fields produce from sandstones in the top of individual slide blocks. Channel-fill strata, which onlap and overlie the slide blocks, do not produce petroleum. After Cossey and Jacobs (1992). Reprinted with permission of the AAPG.

Table 9-1.

Outcrops with significant mass transport deposits, in terms of thickness and areal extent.

Contents

GeoRef

References

References

Amy
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L. A.
McCaffrey
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W. D.
Kneller
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B. C.
in press,
The Peira Cava Outlier, Annot Sandstones, southeastern France
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