Delta-Linked Deepwater Depositional Systems

Course Details

This field trip + core workshop compares three very different deepwater depositional systems that have one thing in common – they are linked to a delta. The first of these represents a mud-rich end member and was deposited in a distally steepened outer ramp several 10s of kilometers from the coeval shoreline. The second represents coarse-grained fan delta deposits and their sub-aqueous counterparts. The third system is not visited in the field but at the United States Geological Survey in Denver as a series of closely spaced well cores and represents a sand-rich shelf margin delta. Teaching objectives are for participants to celebrate the diversity in geometry and dimensions of deepwater channels and lobes. We will be showing several seismic, log, borehole image and core examples at every stop such that participants can relate what they see in outcrop to the day-to-day tasks around the office such as picking horizons, mapping and correlation. This course is particularly relevant for those of you working turbidite reservoirs that are fed by a delta up-slope such as the Lange, Lysing, or Knurr of the Norwegian Continental Shelf, the Sembar and Lower Goru in Pakistan or the Wilcox in the Gulf of Mexico. If you are based in the US and want a shorter version with a greater emphasis on seismic stratigraphy, here’s another option.

Please bear in mind that this is not a field-trip focused on delta front collapse – if that is what you are interested in we can create a tailor-made field trip for you.


• Geologists
• Geophysicists
• Petrophysicists
• Engineers

This course is meant for all who are working on deepwater reservoirs in an exploration or development capacity. This course is particularly useful for those interpreting seismic data on a daily basis.



Course Outline

Day 1

Health-Safety-Environment briefing, orientation to the field, lecture on Deepwater lobe beds, lobe elements, lobes, lobe complexes and fans (hierarchy), axis vs fringe facies, architecture, evolution, recognition in outcrop, core, well-logs and seismic


In the field you will get to see a perfect cross-section through a deepwater lobe where you get to see bidirectional pinching out and thickening along the axis in one sweeping view. At this spectacular location we will have participants compare observations from outcrop with real sub-surface data from basins across the globe. Participants will gain an appreciation for compensation stacking at every scale.

Day 2

Lecture on Deepwater Channel storeys, elements, complexes and complex sets (hierarchy), fill, architecture, evolution, channel-axis vs channel-margin facies, recognition in outcrop, core, well-logs and seismic.


We will be visiting multiple locations each with its own channel style. Participants will learn that many of the geometric relationships created in sand-rich, high-gradient settings are inapplicable to mud-rich, low-gradient settings. We will discuss stratal architecture and its relevance to exploitation strategies in channelized deepwater reservoirs.

Day 3

Lectures on homo, hypo and hyperpycnal flows and tendency of certain rivers to produce hyperpycnal flows on a regular basis whereas others cannot.

We will then drive to look at coarse-grained high-gradient deepwater systems and the fan deltas that feed them.


We will discuss seismic facies and the importance of mass transport complexes in routing and ponding sand-rich turbidity currents

Day 4

Lectures on the process sedimentology of deepwater deposits: we will cover turbidites vs debrites, hybrid beds, and how facies associations can be used to determine whether your well has been drilled in axial vs marginal location of a channel or lobe

We will spend the day describing a deepwater core and participants will learn how to use grain-sizes, sedimentary structures, bed-dips and stacking patterns. Participants will get to see text-book examples of common deepwater lithofacies such as structureless (massive) sandstone, normal and inverse graded sandstones, climbing ripples, convoluted lamination, flame structures, dish structures, consolidation laminae and more. They will then learn how to put these in a process sedimentology framework and predict facies changes away from the borehole.

Day 5

We will cover deepwater hierarchy and how to organize stratal packages into channel storeys, channel elements, channels, channel complexes for confined and lobe elements, lobes, lobe complexes and fans for unconfined systems.


The core-workshop ends after a farewell lunch and we will drop participants off at Denver International Airport

The arrival airport for this field trip is in Canyonlands Field Airport in Moab, Utah and departure airport is from Denver International Airport, Colorado

The field trip will be offered between September 21-25, 2020 and costs $4000/person. This cost is all inclusive and includes 5 nights hotel stay, all meals, snacks and drinks, field vehicles, fuel, permits, guidebook, exercise materials and tuition.