Continuity and Internal Properties of Gulf Coast Sandstones and their Implications for Geopressured Energy Development

Access full-text files




Morton, Robert A.
Ewing, T. E.
Tyler, N.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The continuity of sandstone reservoirs is controlled by various factors including structural trend, sand-body geometry, and the distribution of framework grains, matrix, and interstices within the sand body. Except for the limits imposed by faults, these factors are largely inherited from the depositional environment and modified during sandstone compaction and cementation. Regional and local continuity of sandstone reservoirs depends on a depositional and structural hierarchy of four levels: (1) genetically related sandstones commonly associated with a single depositional system, (2) areally extensive fault blocks, (3) individual sandstones within a fault block, and (4) isolated reservoirs within a fault-bounded sandstone.

Compilation of published and unpublished data for Tertiary and late Quaternary Gulf Coast sandstones of fluvial, deltaic, barrier-strandplain, and submarine fan origins suggests that volumes of sand systems (first hierarchical level) range from 10^11 to 10^13 ft^3, whereas volumes of individual sand bodies range from 10^9 to 10^11 ft^3. The continuity and productive limits of the ancient sandstones are substantially reduced by faults and internal heterogeneity that further subdivide the sand body into individual compartments.

For the Wilcox and Frio trends of Texas, fault blocks (second hierarchical level) vary greatly in size, most being between 0.3 and 52 mi^2 in area; however, the distribution is strongly skewed toward small areas. Volumes of individual reservoirs (fourth hierarchical level) determined from engineering production data are 50 percent less to 200 percent more than estimates obtained from geologic mapping. In general, mapped volumes underestimate actual volumes where faults are non-sealing and overestimate actual volumes where laterally continuous shale breaks cause reductions in porosity and permeability.


LCSH Subject Headings