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Wave-dominated deltaic strata form prolific hydrocarbon plays in many mature basins across the world. Examples include the Jurassic Brent Group play in the North Sea, offshore United Kingdom and Norway (e.g., Husmo et al., 2003); Eocene Jackson Group and Oligocene Frio Formation plays, Texas, onshore United States (e.g., Fisher et al., 1970; Galloway and Morton, 1989); and Tertiary plays in the Niger Delta province, offshore Nigeria (e.g., Evamy et al., 1978), the Baram Delta province, offshore Brunei (e.g., Rijks, 1981), and the Columbus Basin, offshore Trinidad and Tobago (e.g., Sydow et al., 2003). Wave-dominated deltas also form key exploration targets in frontier basins (e.g., Triassic Snadd Formation, Barents Sea, offshore Norway; Klausen et al., 2014, 2016).
The overall architecture of many wave-dominated deltaic reservoirs is determined by their sequence-stratigraphic framework together with their structural configuration. Sequence-stratigraphic frameworks contain elements such as shoreface–shelf parasequences bounded by flooding surfaces and fluvio-estuarine complexes that fill incised coastal valleys developed at sequence boundaries. The internal facies distributions and stacking patterns of such elements are ordered, which aids prediction of reservoir character and behavior. Outcrop analogs of wave-dominated deltaic reservoirs display aspects of ordered stratigraphic architecture across a range of spatial scales that are equivalent to those observed in core, well-log, and seismic data and can therefore be used to support interpretation of their subsurface counterparts.
“TYPE” OUTCROP ANALOG: BLACKHAWK FORMATION, BOOK CLIFFS, UTAH
The Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation contains wave-dominated deltaic strata that are superbly exposed in the Book Cliffs of eastcentral Utah (Figure 1A). The extensive, continuous exposures of the Book Cliffs outcrop belt have allowed the wave-dominated deltas and related deposits to be mapped for tens of kilometers (e.g., Young, 1955; Balsley, 1980), and, consequently, these strata were the “birthplace” of high-resolution sequence stratigraphy using outcrop data (Van Wagoner et al., 1990). The Blackhawk Formation and related …