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Assessing the internal character, reservoir potential, and seal competence of mass-transport deposits using seismic texture: A geophysical and petrophysical approach

Tiago M. Alves,1 Kuncho Kurtev,2 Gregory F. Moore,3 Michael Strasser4

13D Seismic Lab, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, United Kingdom; email: [email protected]
2School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom; email: [email protected]
3Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawaii, 1680 Eastndashwest Road, Post 813, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822; email: [email protected]
4Geological Institute, Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich, NO G 46, Sonneggstrasse 5, Zurich 8092, Switzerland; email: [email protected]


Three-dimensional (3-D) seismic volumes from southeast Brazil, southeast Japan, and borehole data from the Ocean Drilling and Integrated Ocean Drilling Programs are used to demonstrate a new method to distinguish mass-transport deposits (MTDs) from confining hemipelagites, quantify MTDs internal architecture, and assess their reservoir potential or seal competence—the contrast, directionality, energy (CDE) method. The CDE values extracted from 3-D seismic data can be tied to any ground-truthed property of strata regardless of their depositional history, age, and lithology. The application of the CDE method is, however, dependent on seismic-data acquisition parameters and selected processing sequences and should be independently applied to different seismic volumes. Borehole data indicate contrast (C) to reflect MTDs lithological heterogeneity and degree of disaggregation, which increase proportionally to the absolute value of C. More uniform values of P-wave velocity (Vp) and peak shear strength are recorded in strata with lower contrast. Directionality (D) relates to the existence of syn- or postdepositional fabric such as compressional ridges, imbricated strata or faults. Energy (E) relates to the acoustic impedance of strata, with high-amplitude reflections correlating with strata with higher shear strength, i.e., high Vp and shear-wave velocity (Vs) values, or with abrupt contrasts in density (bright spots). This work shows that distinct values of C, D, and E reflect variable degrees of vertical and horizontal connectivity in strata and, consequently, their seal and reservoir potential. The CDE values are thus subdivided in nine classes, which are represented in ternary plots to cover the full spectrum of MTDs and any confining strata. As a result, the data in this article confirm that lower seal competence, and higher reservoir potential, is recorded in strata with large D or moderate CDE values.

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