Sand distribution along shelf-edge deltaic systems : a case study from eastern offshore Trinidad

Davila-Chacon, Anmar Carolina
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The study area is situated along the obliquely converging boundary of the Caribbean and South American plates offshore eastern offshore Trinidad. Major structural elements in the shelf break and deep-water slope regions include normal and counter-normal faults to the south and large transpressional fault zones to the north. Well logs and biostratigraphic information were analyzed for twenty-four wells in the study area to refine previous depositional environment interpretations. For purposes of this net sand distribution analysis it was decided to consider the deltaic portion of the shelf transit cycle, against the marine portion of the shelf transit cycle and were named T and R cycles, respectively. T and R cycles were interpreted based on well log patterns and depositional facies shifts. Six T/R cycles were interpreted within the Pliocene to recent stratigraphic succession and shelf edge trajectories were also mapped for each of these cycles based on earlier stratigraphic correlations. Net-to-gross (NTG) ratios were calculated for each component of the T/R cycles and plotted against total thicknesses and net sand values. In addition, NTG trends were mapped for each interval and analyzed based on their proximity to the corresponding shelf edge. Mapping of the shelf edge trajectories (SET) revealed that (1) SET migrate northeasterly across the Columbus Basin through time and (2) shelf edge orientations are parallel to the strike of growth faults in the south but deflect to the northeast near the Darien Ridge indicating a strong underlying structural control. The NTG plots and maps also revealed that (1) For T cycles, NTG values never exceed 60% and are inversely proportional to total thickness, (2) For R cycles, NTG values are highly variably ranging from 35% to 90%, (3) NTG values increase as the shelf break is approached and (4) The distribution of NTG ratios is also controlled by accommodation space created by local structures. The Guiana current is believed to play an important role in the redistribution and reworking of sand in the Columbus Basin. Aggradation and progradation distances were computed for each interval and the results suggest that the younger Sequences C2 (T-R cycle E) and C3 (T-R cycle F) show a stronger progradational trend than the older C4, C5 and C6. This strong progradational trend might indicate delivery of sand basinwards, while for the older intervals; the aggradational trend suggests an increase in sediment storage. In long-term scale (1-2 m.y.) the Orinoco Delta seems to behave as an aggradational delta that increases sediment storage due to growth fault and high subsidence rates. However, in the short-term scale, the Orinoco delta seems to behave as a rapid progradational delta, for the younger sequences C2 and C3, where sediment bypass is more likely to occur; and as a rapid aggradational (slow prograding) margin for the older intervals C4, C5 and C6.