DEPOSITION, DIAGENESIS, AND RESERVOIR PROPERTIES OF HONDO SULFATES IN THE GROSMONT CARBONATE–EVAPORITE SYSTEM—UPPER DEVONIAN, CANADA
Hans G. Machel, Mary Luz Borrero, B. Charlotte Schreiber, 2017. "DEPOSITION, DIAGENESIS, AND RESERVOIR PROPERTIES OF HONDO SULFATES IN THE GROSMONT CARBONATE–EVAPORITE SYSTEM—UPPER DEVONIAN, CANADA", NEWADVANCES IN DEVONIAN CARBONATES: OUTCROP ANALOGS, RESERVOIRS AND CHRONOSTRATIGRAPHY, Ted E. Playton, Charles Kerans, John A.W. Weissenberger
Download citation file:
The Upper Devonian Grosmont reservoir in Alberta, Canada, is the world’s largest heavy oil/bitumen reservoir hosted in carbonates, with an estimated 400 to 500 billion barrels of “Initial Oil In Place” at average depths of about 250 to 400 m. Our study is part of a more comprehensive effort to evaluate the Grosmont reservoir through geological, geophysical, and petrophysical methods in order to determine the most advantageous method(s) of exploitation.
The reservoir is a carbonate–evaporite system. The carbonates of the Grosmont were deposited during the Late Devonian on an extensive platform and/or a ramp in five or six cycles. Evaporites are interbedded with the carbonates at several stratigraphic levels. These evaporites, informally referred to as the “Hondo Formation,” have received scant attention or were ignored in most earlier studies. However, they may play a crucial role regarding the distribution of the most porous and/or permeable reservoir intervals via dissolution, as permeability barriers to compartmentalize the reservoir during or after hydrocarbon migration, and as a source of dissolved sulfate for microbial hydrocarbon degradation.
Most Hondo primary evaporites are anhydrite that formed subaqueously as well as displacively and/or replacively very close to the depositional surface. Secondary/diagenetic sulfates were formed from primary sulfates much later and under considerable burial. The locations of primary evaporite deposition were controlled by a shift from carbonate platform or ramp deposition over time. At present the primary sulfates occur in a number of relatively small areas of about 10 by 20 km to 20 by 30 km, with thicknesses of a few meters each. If these areas represent the depositional distribution, the primary evaporites were deposited in a series of large, shallow subaqueous ponds (salinas). Alternatively, the primary evaporites were deposited in a more extensive lagoon, and their present distribution represents the remnants after postdepositional, mainly karstic dissolution. The evaporites would have acted as intraformational flow barriers up until the time of dissolution, which may be a factor in the development of compositional differences of the bitumens contained at various stratigraphic levels. In the eastern part of the Grosmont reservoir the evaporites appear to be dissolved and replaced by solution-collapse breccias and bitumen-supported intervals of dolomite powder. In the western part of the reservoir the sulfates may form effective reservoir seals on the scale of the sizes of former brine ponds. However, it is likely that hydrocarbons bypassed them wherever the carbonates had sufficient permeability and/or where the marls were breached by faults and/or karstification.
Figures & Tables
NEWADVANCES IN DEVONIAN CARBONATES: OUTCROP ANALOGS, RESERVOIRS AND CHRONOSTRATIGRAPHY
The Devonian stratigraphic record contains a wealth of information that highlights the response of carbonate platforms to both global-scale and local phenomena that drive carbonate architecture and productivity. Signals embedded particularly in the Middle-Upper Devonian carbonate record related to biotic crises and stressed oceanic conditions, long-term accommodation trends, and peak greenhouse to transitional climatic changes are observed in multiple localities around the world and temporally constrained by biostratigraphy, highlighting distinct and impactful global controls. Devonian datasets also stress the importance of local or regional phenomena, such as bolide impacts, the effects of terrestrial input and paleogeography, syn-depositional tectonics, and high-frequency accommodation drivers, which add complexity to the carbonate stratigraphic record when superimposed on global trends. The unique occurrence of well-studied and pristinely preserved reefal carbonate outcrop and subsurface datasets, ranging across the globe from Australia to Canada, allows for a detailed examination of Devonian carbonate systems from a global perspective and the opportunity to develop well-constrained predictive relationships and conceptual models. Advances in the understanding of the Devonian carbonate system is advantageous considering, not only the classic conventional reservoirs such as the pinnacle reefs of the Alberta Basin, but also emerging conventional reservoirs in Eurasia, and many unconventional plays in North America. The papers in this volume provide updated stratigraphic frameworks for classic Devonian datasets using integrated correlation approaches; new or synthesized frameworks for less studied basins, reservoirs, or areas; and discussions on the complex interplay of extrinsic and intrinsic controls that drive carbonate architectures, productivity, and distribution. The 13 papers in this special publication include outcrop and subsurface studies of Middle to Upper Devonian carbonates of western Canada, the Lennard Shelf of the Canning Basin, Western Australia, and the western USA.