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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 55 (1971)

Issue: 8. (August)

First Page: 1170

Last Page: 1178

Title: A Closed System for Generation and Entrapment of Hydrocarbons in Cenozoic Deltas, Louisiana Gulf Coast

Author(s): Robey H. Clark (2), John T. Rouse (3)


Deltas deposited during the Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene in the vicinity of the present Mississippi River delta illustrate a closed system for the generation and entrapment of hydrocarbons. The major processes that contributed to the closed system were (1) transportation gulfward and deposition as deltas of vast quantities of sediments, derived from erosion of a high continental interior composed of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks; (2) rapid burial of stream-transported organic matter and related nutrients, with abundant marine organic matter concentrated in the delta areas; (3) prevalent reducing conditions, necessary for the generation and preservation of hydrocarbons; (4) formation of discontinuous lenticular bodies of sand and clay by the shifting of istributaries; (5) contemporaneous deformation that produced growth faults and folds which formed structural traps and modified existing stratigraphic traps; and (6) upward flowage of deeply buried Mesozoic salt beds, forming piercement salt domes and deep salt anticlines.

In the closed system the hydrocarbons formed and accumulated almost in situ in structural and stratigraphic traps inherent to the delta mass. Orogenic movements were not needed to form structural traps, as these were produced by large-scale slippage, slumping, and salt movement within the delta complex.

All the elements in this closed system worked together to form the present oil and gas fields. Cumulative production in some of the larger fields (giants) ranges from 550 to 1,122 billion cu ft of gas and from 84 to 704 million bbl of oil and natural gas liquids.

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