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A review of sand detachment in modern deep marine environments: Analogues for upslope stratigraphic traps

June 11, 2021

Isolated, detached sands provide opportunities for large-volume stratigraphic traps in many deepwater petroleum systems. Here we provide a review of the different types of sandbody detachments based on published data from the modern-day seafloor and recent (generally Quaternary-present), shallow-buried strata. Detachment mechanisms can be classified based on their timing of formation relative to deposition of the detached sandbody as well as their process of formation. Syndepositional detachment mechanisms include flow transformation associated with slope failure (Class 1), turbidity current erosion (Class 2), and contourite deposition (Class 3). Post-depositional detachment is related to subsequent erosive processes and truncation of the pre-existing sandbody, either by submarine channels (Class 4), mass-transport events (Class 5), post-depositional sliding or faulting (Class 6) or bottom currents (Class 7). Examples of each of these mechanisms are identified on the modern seafloor, and show that detached sandbodies can form at different locations along the continental slope and rise (from upper slope to basin floor), and between or within different architectural elements (i.e., canyon, channels and lobes). This variation in formation style results in detached sands of highly variable sizes (tens to hundreds of kilometres) and geometries across and along the depositional profile, which are dependent upon the erosive and/or depositional processes involved, as well as the seafloor topography of the area in question. Whilst modern seafloor systems may not always represent the final stratigraphic architecture in the subsurface, they provide important insights into the development of detached sandbodies and therefore serve as potential analogues for subsurface stratigraphic traps.

Publication Year 2021
Title A review of sand detachment in modern deep marine environments: Analogues for upslope stratigraphic traps
DOI 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2021.105184
Authors John W. Counts, Lawrence Amy, Aggeliki Georgiopoulou, Peter Haughton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine and Petroleum Geology
Index ID 70223726
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Energy & Minerals Science Center