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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

GCAGS Transactions


Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions
Vol. 49 (1999), Pages 396-403

Spatial Variations in Formation Water Salinities, South Pelto and South Timbalier Areas, Eastern Louisiana Continental Shelf

Amanda M. Nikiel (2) and Jeffrey S. Hanor (1)

(1) Department of Geology and Geophysics, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70808

(2) Marathon Oil Company, P.O. Box 53266, Lafayette, LA 70505


Spatial variations in pore fluid pressure, temperature, and salinity were determined from borehole logs along a 100-km long north-south transect from the Louisiana coastline to the shelf edge in the South Pelto and South Timbalier outer continental shelf areas to help identify driving forces and pathways of regional fluid flow and solute transport, information potentially useful also in identifying pathways of hydrocarbon migration. The Pleistocene to Upper Miocene sediments were deposited in fluvial, deltaic, and open marine environments and hence contained waters of fresh to brackish to normal marine salinities, <1 to 35 g/L, at the time of their deposition. Most of these sediments, however, now contain hypersaline fluids having salinities of up to 140 to 170 g/L. Exceptions are shallow Upper Pleistocene fluvial and deltaic sediments that contain fluids less saline than sea water, even though this section is now overlain by seawater. These shallow brackish fluids probably represent the remnant of a regional freshwater lens formed during the last low-stand of sealevel.

A regional plume of water having salinities in excess of 140 g/L dips gulfward to the shelf edge at depths of 3 to 5 km below the seafloor. The locus of this plume is within the sandier Pliocene section. Potential sources of dissolved salt within this plume include updip shallow salt structures and the underlying remnants of an allochthonous salt sheet at depths of approximately 6 km. Regional faults in the area may have acted as vertical conduits for upward transport of brines. Down-dip fluid flow was presumably in part gravity-driven. The distal end of this regional salinity plume near the shelf edge is now highly overpressured, and fluid flow should be in the opposite direction, i.e., updip. Hence, this part of the regional salinity structure was probably established prior to over pressuring.

The results of this study establish the dynamic nature of formation water flow which has occurred in the outer continental shelf. Further work is now needed to quantify the magnitude of the driving forces and rates of these processes.

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