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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


DOI: 10.1306/01081514082

Stratigraphic evolution of intraslope minibasins: Insights from surface-based model

Zoltán Sylvester,1 Alessandro Cantelli,2 and Carlos Pirmez3

1Shell Research and Development, Houston, Texas; present address: Chevron Energy Technology Company, Houston, Texas; [email protected]
2Shell Exploration and Production, Houston, Texas; [email protected]
3Shell Italia E&P, Rome, Italy; [email protected]


Although numerous case studies exist to illustrate the large-scale stratigraphic architecture of salt-withdrawal minibasins, there is no clear understanding of how stratal patterns emerge as a function of the interplay between basin subsidence and sedimentation. Here we present a simple model of mass balance in minibasin sedimentation that focuses on the interaction between long-term sediment supply and basin-wide subsidence rate. The model calculates the sediment flux in three dimensions assuming a simplified basin and deposit geometry. The main model output is a cross section that captures the large-scale stratigraphic patterns. This architecture is determined by the relative movement of the stratal terminations along the basin margin: consecutive pinchout points can (1) be stationary, (2) move toward the basin edge (onlap), or (3) move toward the basin center (offlap). The direction and magnitude of this movement depend on the balance between the volume made available through subsidence, calculated only over the area of the previous deposit, and the volume needed to accommodate all the sediment that comes into the basin. Cycles of increasing-to-decreasing sediment supply result in stratigraphic sequences with an onlapping lower part and offlapping upper part. If the sediment input curve is more similar to a step function, stratigraphic sequences only consist of an onlapping sediment package, with no offlap at the top. Modeling two linked basins in which deposition takes place during ongoing subsidence shows that conventional static fill-and-spill models cannot correctly capture the age relationships between basin fills. In general, lower sediment input rates and periods of sediment bypass result in sand-poor convergent stratal patterns, and episodic but high volumetric sedimentation rates lead to well-defined onlap with an increased probability of high sand content.

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