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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 77 (1993)

Issue: 10. (October)

First Page: 1723

Last Page: 1744

Title: Evolving Fluvial Style in the Kekiktuk Formation (Mississippian), Endicott Field Area, Alaska: Base Level Response to Contemporaneous Tectonism

Author(s): John Melvin (2)


The hydrocarbon reservoir at Endicott field, offshore from the Sagavanirktok delta in northeastern Alaska, is found in the Upper Mississippian (Visean) Kekiktuk Formation. The trap is bounded by the northwest-southeast-trending Tigvariak and Mikkelson Bay faults, and the younger east-west-trending Niakuk fault. The Kekiktuk comprises sandstones, siltstones, and mudstones with locally significant coals and conglomerates, and is subdivided into three major reservoir zones based on the relative dominance of these lithologies.

Zone 1 (the lowest) comprises mudstones, siltstones, and coals with subordinate isolated sandstones, and represents deposition within a low-lying swamp plain. With very low net-to-gross ratio, this zone is considered to be effectively nonreservoir. Major movement on the Mikkelson Bay and Tigvariak faults created a half-graben with uplift to the north and east and a very significant drop in base level. This change resulted in fairly widespread deposition of zone 2, medium- to coarse-grained sandstones from sandy bed-load braided streams. However, those sandstones thin significantly to the west, away from the faults. Continuing tectonism at this time created local shifts in base level, manifest as diversion of streams, widespread abandonment, and subsidence leading to the creation of a arge lake. The lacustrine deposits are widespread, and effectively divide zone 2 into two subzones. Those subzones are mappable sheet sandstones, and constitute the best reservoir at Endicott field in terms of net-to-gross ratio, porosity/permeability, and sandstone connectivity.

Base level shows evidence of rising dramatically at the end of zone 2. This rise is attributed to continuing tectonism within the basin, and is particularly associated with the east-west-trending mid-field fault system at Endicott field, as well as ongoing activity on the Tigvariak/Mikkelson Bay fault system. Thus, at the base of zone 3 (subzone 3A), in the southern and eastern parts of the field, the rocks are mudstones and widespread coals, and contain at least one unequivocally marine mudstone. These rocks are lower delta-plain interdistributary bay-fill deposits, with rare distributary channel sandstones. North and west of the mid-field fault system, the marine mudstone is absent and the facies changes significantly with the loss of dominant coal and a concomitant increase of dist ibutary channel sandstones. Reservoir properties of subzone 3A, including connectivity, are significantly different in this area. Subzone 3B is a thick accumulation of fine-grained alluvial overbank deposits within which occur rare, isolated anastomosed channel sandstones of limited connectivity. This subzone makes minimal contribution to Endicott field reserves. Subzone 3C is characterized (particularly in its upper part) by well-developed fining-upward cycles indicating mature meandering streams. The relationships between these two highest subzones of the Kekiktuk at Endicott field indicate they represent an aggradational episode initiated by tectonically induced avulsion and set against a background of rising base level. To the west, at some distance from the Tigvariak/Mikkelson Bay f ult system, zone 3 is much thinner than at Endicott field, and is dominated by mudstones and coals. This evidence emphasizes the control that contemporaneous tectonism related to those faults had on sediment (especially sandstone) distribution within the Kekiktuk Formation.

Base level changes can be identified within the

End_Page 1723------------------------------

Kekiktuk Formation in the North Slope subsurface by careful lithofacies analysis and an awareness of key constraining indicators, such as are revealed by palynology, paleontology, and structural geology. By analogy with shallow-marine rocks, sequence stratigraphic concepts may be extended to continental successions. However, one must approach such problems with a full awareness of the impact of tectonism on base level and basin development.

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