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Unconventional pattern of reservoir facies distribution in epeiric successions: Lessons from an outcrop analog (Lower Keuper, Germany)

Michael Poppelreiter,1 Thomas Aigner2

1Institut und Museum fur Geologie und Palo/ooontologie, Universito/oot Tubingen, Sigwartstrasse 10, 72076 Tubingen, Germany; current address: 3737 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, Texas, 77025; email: [email protected]
2Institut und Museum fur Geologie und Palo/ooontologie, Universito/oot Tubingen, Sigwartstrasse 10, 72076 Tubingen, Germany; email: [email protected]


Michael P–ppelreiter studied at the Mining University of Freiberg, Germany, the Postgraduate Research Institute of Sedimentology, United Kingdom, and the University of Tubingen, Germany. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Tubingen, Germany, in 1998. Since 1998 Michael has worked as a sedimentologist with Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij/Shell in Holland and currently is with Shell International Exploration and Production at Bellaire Technology Centre as a reservoir geologist. His research interests include tectonic control on reservoir facies distribution and integrated 3-D reservoir prediction in epeiric successions.

Thomas Aigner studied geology at the universities of Stuttgart, Tubingen, Reading, and Miami and received his Ph.D. in 1985. From 1985 to 1990 he worked as a research geologist in the Shell Laboratories of Rijswijk, Holland, and Houston, Texas. Since 1991 he has been a professor of sedimentary geology at the University of Tubingen, Germany. His interests include genetic stratigraphy and applied sedimentology.


We wish to gratefully acknowledge the contributions of V. P. Wright, Cardiff University, United Kingdom, during fruitful discussions in the field. Especially we thank T. A. Cross, Colorado School of Mines, for his inspiration on the baselevel concept and lively discussions in the field. H. Brunner and A. Etzold from the Geological Survey of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, provided access to cores, and G. Beutler, University of Halle, Germany, and K.-P. Kelber, University of Wurzburg, Germany, assisted with information, logistics, and discussions. Financial support from the Graduiertenf–rderung des Landes Baden-Wurttemberg is gratefully acknowledged. M. Thompson, NAM, kindly polished up the English language. AAPG reviewers O. J. Martinsen, E. F. McBride, K. W. Shanley, and R. Erickson significantly enhanced the quality of the original manuscript.


This article presents (1) a process-oriented description of an outcrop analog for epeiric successions; (2) a discussion of fundamental characteristics of epeiric basin fills; and (3) a generic depositional model, which may be used for improved reservoir prediction in epeiric settings. The case study focuses on the upper Ladinian, mixed siliciclastic-carbonate Lower Keuper Formation. It is composed of storm-generated, tide-generated, and bioturbated facies. Paleogeographically the succession shows an unusual lateral energy zonation comprising a seaward low-energy zone close to wave base; an intermediate, reservoir-prone, high-energy zone within wave base; and a landward low-energy zone above wave base. Stratigraphically the Lower Keuper Formation is subdivided into meter-scale transgressive-regressive cycles, correlatable over distances of more than 500 km. Cycle boundaries are interpreted to be isochronous. Within the resulting chronostratigraphic framework, facies distributions have been mapped out in three dimensions, revealing that reservoir-prone facies are most extensive in shoreline-detached positions. Reservoir bodies are thin, have sheetlike geometries but extend for several tens of kilometers, and are stacked in an aggradational facies architecture. Additionally, the reservoir-prone facies is thicker developed in zones of stronger subsidence, a few kilometers wide, linked to underlying basement blocks.

Resulting unconventional reservoir prediction strategies for similar shallow-marine epeiric settings should target shoreline-detached high-energy facies belts that are preferentially developed within zones of stronger subsidence, controlled by basement tectonics.

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