About This Item

Share This Item

The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 94, No. 10 (October 2010), P. 14771484.

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


A review and technical summary of the AAPG Hedberg Research Conference ldquoVariations in fluvial-deltaic and coastal reservoirs deposited in tropical environmentsrdquo

Robert C. Shoup,1 Joseph Lambiase,2 Andrew B. Cullen,3 Charles A. Caughey4

1Clastic Reservoir Systems, 120 Jalan Datuk Sulaiman, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kuala Lumpur 60000, Malaysia; email: [email protected]
2Petroleum Geoscience Program, Department of Geology, Chulalongkorn University, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand; [email protected]
3Shell International Exploration and Production, B.V.Kessler Park 1/2288 GS, Rijswijk, Netherlands; [email protected]
4ConocoPhillips, 600 North Dairy Ashford, Houston, Texas 77017-1175; [email protected]


This conference addressed the question of whether fluvial-deltaic and coastal reservoirs deposited in tropical environments exhibit different facies relationships than those of temperate systems. Although this conference concluded that there is nothing distinctly unique about clastic depositional systems in tropical environments, the magnitude of the processes that operate in these environments differs from nontropical environments. Because these processes influence the distribution of reservoir and nonreservoir facies, geologists need a fundamental understanding of the contrasts between tropical and nontropical environments when interpreting subsurface data and building depositional models.

We highlight the following features that seem to be more favorably developed in tropical environments. (1) Many tropical systems exhibit complexly stacked channel and overbank deposits. Although some fluvial deposits have the classic meandering pattern, seismic attributes indicate that many tropical channel belts are anastomosing systems that intersect each other at large angles. Subsurface correlation without the benefit of three-dimensional seismic data is all but impossible. (2) In contrast to deltaic deposits in temperate climates, which exhibit high sand/shale ratios near the delta with sand content decreasing basinward and laterally away from the delta, tropical deltas tend to be muddier near the river mouth and have cleaner, well-sorted sand bodies better developed laterally in the shoreface and shallow-marine environments. (3) Modern tropical coasts are home to large estuarine environments dominated by mangroves. Estuarine deposits interpreted in the subsurface and observed in outcrop are sand rich, yet little sand is observed in modern mangrove estuaries. Mangrove estuarine deposits also contain abundant organic-rich layers, thin coals, and dispersed organic matter that may favor the development of a self-sourced petroleum system. The flushing of these systems during relative low stands may be an important mechanism not only for reservoir development, but also for dispersing organic matter into deep-water systems.

This conference was dominated by discussions of depositional systems in Southeast Asia, which have a strong tectonic overprint. Further research on tropical systems from the South American and African conjugate margin could provide important tests for the ideas highlighted above.

Pay-Per-View Purchase Options

The article is available through a document delivery service. Explain these Purchase Options.

Protected Document: $10
Internal PDF Document: $14
Open PDF Document: $24

AAPG Member?

Please login with your Member username and password.

Members of AAPG receive access to the full AAPG Bulletin Archives as part of their membership. For more information, contact the AAPG Membership Department at [email protected].