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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 91, No. 10 (October 2007), P. 1367-1403.

Copyright copy2007. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Controls on fluviolacustrine reservoir distribution and architecture in passive salt-diapir provinces: Insights from outcrop analogs

Wendy J. Matthews,1 Gary J. Hampson,2 Bruce D. Trudgill,3 John R. Underhill4

1Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom; present address: Exploration and Production Technology Group, BP plc, Chertsey Road, Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex TW16 7LN, United Kingdom; [email protected]
2Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom; [email protected]
3Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado 80401-1877
4School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, The Kings Buildings, West Main Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, United Kingdom


Fluviolacustrine strata host significant hydrocarbon volumes in basins characterized by syndepositional growth of passive salt diapirs. An understanding of salt-sediment interaction is critical to the prediction of reservoir distribution and architecture in these strata. Large-scale stratal geometries and thickness changes resulting from salt movement are commonly apparent on seismic data, but to date, there are few predictive models for facies architecture at subseismic, reservoir scale.

This article uses a high-quality outcrop data set of fluviolacustrine strata in an exhumed salt basin (Upper Triassic Chinle Formation, Paradox Basin, Utah) as an analog for improved understanding of subsurface data sets of similar structural and sedimentological setting. Salt-sediment interaction in the Chinle Formation is expressed by localized lateral variations in stratigraphic thickness, angular stratal relationships, and changes in facies architecture. Based on these criteria, there is evidence for salt-sediment interaction across a series of syndepositional salt structures, including anticlines above buried salt pillows, salt walls exposed at surface, and salt-withdrawal minibasins. Stratigraphy and facies architecture across these structures reflect the following controls: regional subsidence, localized differential accommodation space, and localized paleogeomorphology. Both localized controls were driven by syndepositional salt movement, which exhibited subtle spatial and temporal variations during the deposition of the Chinle Formation. The outcrop data set is used to develop generic predictive models of facies distributions and architectures resulting from different conditions of regional tectonic subsidence and/or fluvial energy. Analysis of stratigraphic expansion across syndepositional passive diapirs suggests that the outcrop-derived models are applicable to many subsurface data sets.

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