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The need to accurately define sand trend and quality in a deltaic to shallow-marine environment of deposition where facies changes take place over a short distance is widely recognized. In an oil-sand environment, such as the Cerro Negro area of the Orinoco Petroliferous Belt, this need is more evident because enhanced recovery projects are necessary. Facies variability and correlation problems in such a setting have led many workers to apply indiscriminately the cyclicity concept as an exploration/exploitation tool. According to this concept, a cycle begins with a transgressive sand and ends with a marsh facies represented by a coal bed. Subdivision of the rock column into cycles allow delineation of sand geometry.
Recent works have demonstrated that rooted coal beds can be formed in different coastal environments, ranging from the upper delta plain to the back-barrier lagoon facies. Therefore, it is obvious that the association of these facies will differ from one another and from the standard cycle concept.
In the Cerro Negro area, the process-controlled genetic unit concept was of great help in defining sand geometry and quality. The rock column of cored wells can be subdivided according to the presence of physical and biological parameters into 4 units, differentiated by the occurrence of rooted coal, limestone, sand, shale, Ophiomorpha-type burrows (Fositextura figurativa), bioturbation structures (Fositextura deformativa), and shell fragments.
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