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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Houston Geological Society


Deltas: Models for Exploration, 1975
Pages 3-11

Petroleum in Deltaic Sediments

E. H. Rainwater


Most of the known accumulations of oil and gas in terrigenous sediments are in sandstones which were deposited in large deltas where abundant organic material accumulated and was buried quickly, porous sand bodies formed and stratigraphic-structural traps developed syndepositionally.

Some examples of petroleum occurrence in deltaic sediments, six of which are described and illustrated, are: the Tertiary of the Niger Delta Basin, Maracaibo and Eastern Venezuela basins, Gulf Coast Basin of the United States, Irrawaddy Basin of central Burma, Cook Inlet Basin of Alaska, Cambay Basin of India, Uinta and Gulf Coast basins of the United States, and Gippsland Basin of Australia; the Cretaceous of northeastern Alberta, Canada (Athabasca oil sands), several Rocky mountain basins of the United States; the Late Paleozoic of Illinois, Black Warrior, Arkoma, Cherokee and Delaware basins of the United States; and the Middle Paleozoic of the northern Appalachian Basin of the United States.

The petroleum-bearing sandstones were deposited in rapidly subsiding deltaic depocenters at margins of oceans or large interior seas. Abundant indigenous and transported organic debris was buried with the sand and finer-sediment; the organic matter was converted to petroleum soon after burial, and the oil and gas accumulated early in the structurally highest parts of the lenticular sands.

Many porous nondeltaic sandstones which are stratigraphically and structurally sealed have no hydrocarbon accumulations.

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