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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 94, No. 8 (August 2010), 1267-1309.

Copyright copy2010. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


The impact of diagenesis on the heterogeneity of sandstone reservoirs: A review of the role of depositional facies and sequence stratigraphy

S. Morad,1 Khalid Al-Ramadan,2 J. M. Ketzer,3 L. F. De Ros,4

1Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden; present address: Department of Petroleum Geosciences, the Petroleum Institute, P.O. Box 2533 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; [email protected]
2Department of Earth Sciences, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, P.O. Box 1400, Dhahran 31261, Saudi Arabia; [email protected]
3Carbon Storage Research Center in Brazil, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Ipiranga, 6681, Predio 96J, TecnoPuc, Porto Alegre, RS 90619-900, Brazil; [email protected]
4Institute of Geosciences, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Bento Goncalves, 9500, CEP 91501-970, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil; [email protected]


Diagenesis exerts a strong control on the quality and heterogeneity of most clastic reservoirs. Variations in the distribution of diagenetic alterations usually accentuate the variations in depositional porosity and permeability. Linking the types and distribution of diagenetic processes to the depositional facies and sequence-stratigraphic framework of clastic successions provides a powerful tool to predict the distribution of diagenetic alterations controlling quality and heterogeneity. The heterogeneity patterns of sandstone reservoirs, which determine the volumes, flow rates, and recovery of hydrocarbons, are controlled by geometry and internal structures of sand bodies, grain size, sorting, degree of bioturbation, provenance, and by the types, volumes, and distribution of diagenetic alterations. Variations in the pathways of diagenetic evolution are linked to (1) depositional facies, hence pore-water chemistry, depositional porosity and permeability, types and amounts of intrabasinal grains, and extent of bioturbation; (2) detrital sand composition; (3) rate of deposition (controlling residence time of sediments at specific near-surface, geochemical conditions); and (4) burial thermal history of the basin. The amounts and types of intrabasinal grains are also controlled by changes in the relative sea level and, therefore, can be predicted in the context of sequence stratigraphy, particularly in paralic and shallow marine environments. Changes in the relative sea level exert significant control on the types and extent of near-surface shallow burial diagenetic alterations, which in turn influence the pathways of burial diagenetic and reservoir quality evolution of clastic reservoirs. Carbonate cementation is more extensive in transgressive systems tract (TST) sandstones, particularly below parasequence boundaries, transgressive surface , and maximum flooding surface because of the abundance of carbonate bioclasts and organic matter, bioturbation, and prolonged residence time of the sediments at and immediately below the sea floor caused by low sedimentation rates, which also enhance the formation of glaucony. Eogenetic grain-coating berthierine, odinite, and smectite, formed mostly in TST and early highstand systems tract deltaic and estuarine sandstones, are transformed into ferrous chlorite during mesodiagenesis, helping preserve reservoir quality through the inhibition of quartz cementation. The infiltration of grain-coating smectitic clays is more extensive in braided than in meandering fluvial sandstones, forming flow barriers in braided amalgamated reservoirs, and may either help preserve porosity during burial because of quartz overgrowth inhibition or reduce it by enhancing intergranular pressure dissolution. Diagenetic modifications along sequence boundaries are characterized by considerable dissolution and kaolinization of feldspars, micas, and mud intraclasts under wet and warm climates, whereas a semiarid climate may lead to the formation of calcrete dolocrete cemented layers. Turbidite sandstones are typically cemented by carbonate along the contacts with interbedded mudrocks or carbonate mudstones and marls, as well as along layers of concentration of carbonate bioclasts and intraclasts. Commonly, hybrid carbonate turbidite arenites are pervasively cemented. Proximal, massive turbidites normally show only scattered spherical or ovoid carbonate concretions. Improved geologic models based on the connections among diagenesis, depositional facies, and sequence-stratigraphic surfaces and intervals may not only contribute to optimized production through the design of appropriate simulation models for improved or enhanced oil recovery strategies, as well as for CO2 geologic sequestration, but also support more effective hydrocarbon exploration through reservoir quality prediction.

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