The sandbodies within braided fluvial deposits are important reservoirs for the oil fields in China, and they usually have complex sedimentary architecture. A lot of research has been concentrated on characterizing the architecture of the sandbodies. Based on the observation that muddy deposits are commonly well preserved in fluvial deposits, we find that understanding the contact relationship between the muddy deposits and surrounding sand bodies can help characterize the depositional process of sandy braided fluvial systems. We have determined the effectiveness of this idea by characterizing a well-exposed outcrop of sandy braided fluvial system in the Datong Basin, Shanxi Province of China. We first define six muddy lithofacies by integrating the thickness of the muddy deposits, the morphology of the muddy deposit, and the lithofacies of surrounding sand deposits. The six muddy lithofacies include floodplain muddy deposits between intermittent channel complex, lateral covering muddy deposits and fall-silt seam muddy deposits between migrated bar complex, muddy gravel deposits in erosional bar complex, and channel-fill muddy deposits and gully-fill muddy deposits in abandoned bar complex. We then analyze the depositional environments according to the defined muddy lithofacies. We finally build the architecture of the outcrops by integrating the lithofacies of sand deposits and evolution of the depositional environments deduced from the muddy lithofacies.

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