Role of sea-level change in deep water deposition along a carbonate shelf margin, Early and Middle Permian, Delaware Basin: implications for reservoir characterization

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Abstract

The architecture and sedimentary characteristics of deep water deposition can reflect influences of sea-level change on depositional processes on the shelf edge, slope, and basin floor. Outcrops of the northern slope and basin floor of the Delaware Basin in west Texas are progressively exposed due to canyon incision and road cutting. The outcrops in the Delaware Basin were measured to characterize gravity flow deposits in deep water of the basin. Subsurface data from the East Ford and Red Tank fields in the central and northeastern Delaware Basin were used to study reservoir architectures and properties. Depositional models of deep water gravity flows at different stages of sea-level change were constructed on the basis of outcrop and subsurface data. In the falling-stage system tracts, sandy debris with collapses of reef carbonates are deposited on the slope, and high-density turbidites on the slope toe and basin floor. In the low-stand system tracts, deep water fans that consist of mixed sand/mud facies on the basin floor are comprised of high- to low-density turbidites. In the transgression and high-stand system tracts, channel-levee systems and elongate lobes of mud-rich calciturbidite deposits formed as a result of sea level rise and scarcity of sandy sediment supply. For the reservoir architecture, the fan-like debris and high-density turbidites show high net-to-gross ratio of 62 %, which indicates the sandiest reservoirs for hydrocarbon accumulation. Lobe-like deep water fans with net-to-gross ratio of 57 % facilitate the formation of high quality sandy reservoirs. The channel-levee systems with muddy calciturbidites have low net-to-gross ratio of 30 %.

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