Spring 2020 CSS Research Update Blog Post

Updated: Jun 24

Starting in June 2020, we will be uploading a series of presentations by the principal investigators and student/post-doc team members that can be viewed on (or downloaded from) the main part of our website available to sponsors. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, here's a brief update of each of the team member's research activities over the past several months (listed alphabetically by last name). 

DAN BELL (Post-doctoral fellow, University of Calgary)

Dan is a new post-doc on the team, and the focus of his first field season was assessing longitudinal variability in channel-fill architecture in the Tres Pasos Formation at the ~7 km long dip-oriented Alvarez Ridge outcrop. The primary objective of this work is to document the stratigraphic expression of intra-channel-fill architecture with wavelengths of 10’s – 100’s m and evidence for upstream migration. A key question is to consider how these relate to similar features observed on the modern seafloor (e.g., cyclic steps and knickpoints). Dan also spent time in the field beginning detailed characterization of the shelf-to-slope transition of the coarse-grained Puma channel-system. This initiative will investigate a primarily dip-oriented section to better understand how sediment bypass manifests itself from the shelf to the slope, the stratigraphic expression of this relationship, and the implications for the nature of updip pinchouts of slope channel reservoir plays.

Detailed characterization of intra-channel-fill features.

REBECCA ENGLERT (Ph.D. student, University of Calgary)

Rebecca’s fieldwork this season focused on two main areas. Firstly, she continued work on the ponded, intraslope minibasin deposit exposed at the top of El Chingue Bluff, which included measuring section and examining bed correlations/terminations in order to capture bed-scale variations along the oblique depositional dip-oriented outcrop. These data will be used to investigate flow processes and interactions with synsedimentary faults that lead to the accumulation. Secondly, Rebecca documented detailed sedimentological features of intriguing backset sandstone lenses within deltaic slope deposits exposed on Cerro Cazador. Preliminary results indicate that these deposits are concentrated on discrete surfaces within the succession and may be related to upslope-migrating bedforms observed on many modern prodeltas.

Investigation of traction-structure-dominated sandstone bodies within prodeltaic/slope strata.

SOPHIE HAGE (Post-doctoral fellow, University of Calgary)

Sophie is a new post-doc on the team and is leading a project focused on tracking organic carbon transport and burial in deltaic and slope turbidite systems. Understanding the distribution and preservation of terrestrial organic carbon in marine sediments is key for refining models of biogeochemical cycling, improved characterization of petroleum resources, and reconstruction of past environmental changes. This project will characterize in detail the composition, amount, and stratigraphic distribution of organic carbon buried in Late Cretaceous sediment to test the preservation potential of organic carbon over geological timescales. Sophie focused her field work this season on the description and high-resolution sampling of a 400 m-thick section at Cerro Cazador, spanning upper slope to deltaic topset facies of the Tres Pasos and Dorotea Formations. Preliminary observations reveal an abundance of woody/leafy debris within sandstones, implying a major terrestrial source of the particulate organic matter. Sophie will now focus her efforts in the laboratory, conducting of total organic carbon content, carbon isotopes, organic-matter composition, and more.

Systematic sampling of deposits to study the abundance and characteristics of terrestrial organic matter.

SEBASTIAN KAEMPFE (Ph.D. student, Virginia Tech)

This field season, Sebastian finalized the outcrop data set for a project he’s spearheading at El Chingue Bluff focused on the sedimentologic and stratigraphic expression of a significant transition in the Magallanes Basin history — from thin-bedded, fine-grained distal levee deposits of the Cerro Toro Formation to the mass transport deposits and intra-slope turbidite fan deposits of the overlying Tres Pasos Formation. In addition to the depositional history, Sebastian is investigating the nature and timing of syn-sedimentary faulting and sand injectites in this interval. Sebastian also collected additional samples for detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology at Monte Rotundo, to the south of the primary outcrop belt, which will be used to constrain the timing of along-strike sediment input into the basin at exploration scales.   

The lower part of the El Chingue Bluff outcrop is characterized by thin-bedded turbidites and dominantly fine-grained deposits.

TERESA LANGENKAMP (M.S. student, Colorado State University)

Teresa is working on forward seismic models of channelized stratigraphy at the Laguna Figueroa outcrops. She is working on constructing forward 1D convolutional seismic models  and testing the sensitivity of NTG and rock properties on the resulting amplitude and reflector character. She will also investigate AVO modeling as a method for architectural characterization. Teresa will also be investigating inversion results to assess what information is preserved in inverted seismic models. Teresa is working closely with M.S. student Andrew Ruetten and utilizing the architectural model he is building for the seismic modeling.

CASEY MEIROVITZ (Ph.D. student, University of Utah)

Casey is working on revisions to his paper in review withPetroleum Geosciences, “The Influence of Inter- and Intra-Channel Architecture on Deep-water Turbidite Reservoir Performance”. He is also currently writing the final chapter of his dissertation, which examines optimal grid and reservoir property upscaling to capture the influence of fine-scale reservoir architecture at the field-scale. Ultimately, this work outlines how relatively simplistic upscaling methods, informed by outcrop based sector modeling, can be used to more accurately predict complex flow behaviors at the field-scale.

TOM PEPLOE (Ph.D. student, University of Calgary)

Tom is a new PhD student on the CSS team (he arrived to University of Calgary in January 2020) and spent six weeks in the Chile field site this past February-March. Tom is focused on the deltaic, prodeltaic, and shelf-edge/upper-slope stratigraphy of the Tres Pasos and Dorotea formations exposed on Cerro Cazador. He spent the majority of the field season logging detailed measured sections and the initial high-resolution architectural mapping. This seismic-scale outcrop will be used to correlate from proximal to distal along this depositional-dip exposure of a constructional shelf margin. Using lithologies, facies analysis, organic content, and correlations, it is intended to better understand the depositional regime and more accurately document the Dorotea and Tres Pasos progradational architecture. Ultimately we aim to identify different depositional environments, allogenic/autogenic deposition, and define a variety of depositional processes associated at the shelf margin.

GoogleEarth view of the Cerro Cazador outcrop. (Drone images and models available to sponsors.)

ANDREW RUETTEN (M.S. student, Colorado State University)

Andrew has been working on generating a new model of the upper and lower channel complex sets at Laguna Figueroa. This model will include surfaces that capture the observed hierarchy (elements and complexes within complex sets), as well as mass transport deposits and out of channel thin-beds. His goal is to test the impact of element-scale NTG, drape coverage and MTD thickness and continuity on connectivity and fluid flow. He created a series of simple models to run a sensitivity analysis testing the effects of channel stacking pattern, net-to-gross, and drape coverage on fluid flow as a function of stacking patterns. Ultimately, Andrew’s thesis will include three main chapters: simple model simulations, full “ground truth” model sensitivity analysis, and results of testing built-in Petrel algorithms to build facies models.

New 3D model of Laguna Figueroa interval including ~300m of strata in two channel systems. This model will be used for sensitivity analysis to assess how channel element NTG and base drape, MTD presence and thickness, and out of channel thin-beds impact fluid flow and seismic responses.

NOAH VENTO (M.S. student, Colorado State University)

Noah has been researching the efficacy of machine learning algorithms to interpret and predict channel position (i.e., axis, off-axis, and margin) from measured sections or 1D borehole data of deep-water channel-fills based on the Laguna Figueroa outcrop data set. The preliminary analyses validate the use of machine learning for these types of studies but question if interpretations of channel architecture accurately capture variations in intra-channel fill. To further explore this, Noah has also been testing hierarchical machine learning analyses to provide insight into heterogeneity within individual channel positions. These secondary analyses show that axis is the most statistically distinct channel position, and margins are diverse with potentially three different styles of channel margin architecture, as recognized in CSS Phase 2 results from the work of post-doc Sarah Southern. Noah successfully defended his master’s research on April 13, 2020; you can download his defense Powerpoint presentation here [CSS Virtual Talk Series Page].