Well-studied deepwater outcrop analogs in Southern California are relevent to subsurface interpretation of submarine channel reservoir presence and architecture. The exceptional outcrops form spectacular sea cliffs that define the coastline and culture of the region.

The outcrops examined on this course demonstrate stratigraphic modulation of submarine channel architecture and illustrate the multiple scales of reservoir heterogeneity affecting production rate and volume. Reservoir deliverability represents critical input to decisions on capital-intensive deepwater developments, where significant cost is realized when the least is known about the reservoir.

This course focuses on understanding and identifying empirical sedimentary attributes that define repetitive and reproducible patterns of submarine channel architecture. Submarine canyon, slope valley, multilateral and multistory channel stacking, and weakly confined channel architectures will be examined in the field. Lectures will introduce concepts on time stratigraphy, event bed sedimentology, state of flow confinement recorded by channel and channel-related levee and lobe sedimentary bodies, deepwater shelf-slope-basin system, and geocellular reservoir modeling methods. High-resolution three-dimensional images of modern and recent channel morphology, experimental and numerical models of subaqueous flows, subsurface reservoir case studies and channel patterns from a global library of outcrop analogs reinforce concepts introduced in lectures.

On this course, you will learn how to:

  1. recognize hierarchy of lithofacies, sedimentation units (event beds), sedimentary bodies and stratigraphic surfaces that form attributes that characterize submarine channel architecture and multiscale reservoir heterogeneity.
  2. correlate sedimentary attributes to the formative processes responsible for their origin and appreciate the order of magnitude differences in temporal and spatial scale.
  3. classify the different types of subaqueous flow sedimentation units defined by vertical lithofacies successions that record the longitudinal structure of the flow and define the facies tracts at the site of deposition.
  4. link mesoscale channelform, levee/overbank wedgeform and lobeform sedimentary bodies to deposition from confined, partially confined and unconfined subaqueous flows recording the time-averaged state of confinement over millenium.
  5. catalogue sedimentary attributes that define shelf, slope and basin-floor parts of a deepwater system and integrate multivariate analysis with complex system theory to predict submarine channel reservoir architecture.
  6. understand workflows and methodologies that retain detailed multiscale heterogeneity in geocelluar models of submarine channel reservoirs.
  7. apply stratigraphic models that describe temporal phases of allocyclic submarine fan and autocyclic channel evolution to account for phase amplification from the superimposed cycle hierarchy that drives stratigraphic modulation of reservoir architecture.
  8. identify and correlate different orders of tectonic and gravity driven sedimentary deformation in deepwater systems to first-order plate boundary configuration and compare second-order convergent forearc and continental margin basins to other plate configurations and basins.

This course provides a better appreciation for submarine channel architecture from the context of the deepwater systems they create and the hierarchical attributes they generate. These genetic relationships enable subsurface reservoir prediction; the course emphasizes the following principles:

  1. dimensionless unit volume of reservoir–consists of pore volume, framework grains, matrix and cement–changes with nested spatial position within a hierarchy of sedimentary attributes.
  2. vertical lithofacies define sedimentation units (SU) and facies tracts that record longitudinal changes in erosion, sediment bypass, and deposition from differents parts of subaqueous flow.
  3. Stratigraphic surfaces bound sedimentary bodies and enable classification of body type, hierarchy, stacking pattern, azimuth, and trajectory, which determine lateral/vertical reservoir connectivy and continuity.
  4. submarine channel systems consist of spatial hierarchy of elementary, composite and complex channelform, wedgeform and lobeform, drape and resedimented sedimentary bodies.
  5. fine-grained drapes that line the base and margins of channel-fills are the most important heterogeneity in submarine channel reservoirs because they affect the connected volume.
  6. smaller attributes define larger sedimentation regions and channel patterns recording Walthers Law of vertical and lateral facies equivalence.
  7. stratigraphic modulation of channel patterns produced by stratigraphic phase amplification results from superimposed temporal phases of autocyclic and allocyclic deposition.
  8. under-and over-filled slope configurations describe variations in shelf to basin bathymetry that range from steep antecedent and stationary slopes to shallow constructional slopes that couple the shelf to the basin floor in depositional outbuilding of the margin.
  9. under- and over-supplied flows–defined by the ratio between unconfined flow to receiving basin width (SU/RB)–correlate flow size (estimated from sedimentation units (SU)) to lateral expansion of unconfined flows on the basin floor; fewer channels form when high magnitude over-supplied flows scale to the receiving basin width and the basin becomes the confinement.
  10. source-to-sink analysis establishes external forcing on deepwater systems by lower order tectonic and gravity driven sedimentary deformation, the shelf record of sea level change, and climate recording higher order astronomical (Milankovitch) bandwidths.