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Although the general aspects of oolitic depositional systems are well-documented, their landscape-scale patterns (geobodies) are not well enough understood to offer quantitative, predictive insights for reservoir characterization. To begin to fill this basic gap in understanding, this study describes the morphology, hydrodynamics, and process sedimentology of several modern tidally dominated Bahamian ooid shoal complexes and compares the patterns with patterns in Kansas Pennsylvanian analogs. A companion paper explores linkages further, documenting petrophysical, geophysical, and production characteristics of these Pennsylvanian oolitic reservoirs.

Integrating remote sensing imagery with quantitative bathymetric, fluid flow, and granulometric data in a GIS, we document geomorphic and sedimentologic patterns and processes in several active tidally-dominated shoals. Results reveal that parabolic bars form a common morphologic motif, although there is considerable variation on that general theme. Different processes can lead to varying depositional geometries and sedimentologic patterns. Nonetheless, the landscape-scale configuration of bars and superimposed sand waves is linked closely to patterns of tidal flows. Bars are not homogenous bodies, however, and granulometric parameters such as sorting and mud percentage vary systematically and predictably within the hydrogeomorphic framework.

Through exploring modern oolitic shoals, this study provides new insights on details of their morphology and dynamics as well as links between geomorphic framework and grain size and sorting; some patterns are similar to those within geobodies in Pennsylvanian reservoir analogs. These insights provide quantitative predictive information on facies geometries, on grain characteristics, and depositional porosity in analogous ancient ooid shoals.

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