Submarine-fan deposits form the largest sediment accumulations on Earth and host significant reservoirs for hydrocarbons. While many studies of ancient fan deposits qualitatively describe lateral architectural variability (e.g., axis-to-fringe, proximal-to-distal), these relationships are rarely quantified. In order to enable comparison of key relationships that control the lateral architecture of submarine depositional environments, I digitized published bed-scale outcrop correlation panels from five different environments (channel, levee, lobe, channel-lobe-transition-zone, basin plain). Measured architectural parameters (bed thickness, bed thinning rates, lateral correlation distance, net-to-gross) provide a quantitative framework to compare facies architecture between environments. The results show that sandstone and/or mudstone bed thickness alone or net-to-gross do not reliably differentiate between environments. However, environments are distinguishable using a combination of thinning rate, bed thickness, and correlation distance. For example, channel deposits generally display thicker sandstone beds than mudstone beds whereas levees display the opposite trend. Lobe deposits display the most variability in all parameters, and thus would be the most difficult to identify in the subsurface. I sub-classified lobe deposits to provide a more detailed analysis into unconfined, semiconfined and confined settings. However, the results for semiconfined lobes indicate that the degree of lobe confinement and subenvironment is not easily interpretable at the outcrop scale. This uncertainty could be partially caused by subjectivity of qualitative interpretations of environment, which demonstrates the need for more quantitative studies of bed-scale heterogeneity. These results can be used to constrain forward stratigraphic models and reservoir models of submarine lobe deposits as well as other submarine depositional environments.
This work is paired with a case study to refine the depositional environment of submarine lobe strata of the Upper Cretaceous Point Loma Formation at Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, California. These fine-grained turbidites have been interpreted as distal submarine lobe deposits. The strike-oriented, laterally-extensive exposure offers a rare opportunity to observe bed-scale architecture and facies changes in turbidites over 1 km lateral distance. Beds show subtle compensation, likely related to evolving seafloor topography, while lobe elements show drastic compensation. This indicates more hierarchical method of compensational stacking as the degree of bed compensation is small compared to the degree of element compensation. Thinning rates and bed thicknesses are not statistically different between lobe elements. This signifies that the lateral exposure is necessary to distinguish lobe elements and it would be extremely difficult to accurately interpret elements in the subsurface using 1D data (e.g., core). The grain size, mudstone to sandstone bed thicknesses, element/bed compensation, and lack of erosion observed in the Cabrillo National Monument exposures of the Point Loma Formation are most similar to values of semiconfined lobe deposits; hence, I reinterpret that these exposures occupy a more medial position, perhaps with some degree of confinement.
|Commitee:||Laugier, Fabien, May, Jeffrey, Plink-Bjorklund, Piret|
|School:||Colorado School of Mines|
|Department:||Geology and Geological Engineering|
|School Location:||United States -- Colorado|
|Source:||MAI 58/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Geology, Sedimentary Geology|
|Keywords:||Bed-scale, Lateral variability, Lobe, Point loma formation, Quantification, Turbidites|
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