The Middle Permian Skoorsteenberg Formation is part of the Ecca Group (Karoo Supergroup) of South Africa. It is also known as the ‘Tanqua fan complex’ due to its origin as a deep-water sedimentation unit associated with a prograding deltaic system. The Skoorsteenberg Formation crops out over approximately 650 km2 along the western margin of the Main Karoo Basin. It thins out in a northerly and easterly direction and therefore has a limited extent with cut-off boundaries to the south and north. It is underlain by the Tierberg Formation and overlain by the Kookfontein Formation, the latter being limited to the regional distribution of the Skoorsteenberg Formation. The Skoorsteenberg Formation has a composite thickness of 400 m and comprises five individual sandstone packages, separated by shale units of similar thickness. The sandstones are very fine- to fine-grained, light greyish to bluish grey when fresh, poorly sorted and lack primary porosity and permeability.

The Tanqua fan complex is regarded as one of the world’s best examples of an ancient basin floor to slope fan complex associated with a fluvially dominated deltaic system. It has served as analogue for many deep-water systems around the world and continues to be a most sought after “open-air laboratory” for studying the nature of fine-grained, deep-water sedimentation. The fan systems are essentially tectonically undeformed, outstandingly well exposed and contain an inexhaustible amount of information on the deep-water architecture of lower slope to basin floor turbidite deposits.

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