Swastika (Upper Pennsylvanian) shelf-margin deltas and delta-fed turbidites, Flowers "Canyon Sand" Field area, Stonewall County, Texas



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Hydrocarbon producing, deep-water Cisco sands along the Eastern Shelf were studied in the vicinity of Flowers "Canyon Sand" Field to develop a depositonal model explaining their origin, geometry, and style of deposition. Regional correlations and subsurface mapping indicate that producing sands were deposited within the Swastika lithogenetic unit, which contains a network of shelf-margin fluvial/deltaic, slope, and basin depositional systems deposited between transgressive Gunsight and Ivan Limestones. The sands are not "Canyon", but Virgilian in age. During Swastika time a wedge of sediments up to 1100 feet thick was deposited in the study area in response to westward progradation of shelf-margin deltas. Standard mapping techniques and detailed correlations using nearly 700 well logs and the examination of 3 cores indicate that this wedge can be divided into three principal systems: (1) a sand-dominated turbidite, basin and lower slope system, which constitutes the reservoir facies, (2) a shale-rich prodelta/slope system punctuated by slope channel filled gullies, and (3) a sand-dominated shelf-margin fluvial/deltaic system. Ten deltaic lobes, averaging 2 miles in diameter, were recognized. These lobes may have been deposited during a lowstand of sea level. Elongate/lobate geometry and rapid shifting of lobes indicate high depositional rates. Shelf-margin instabilities associated with deltas led to prodelta/slope slumping, gully formation, and generation of turbidity currents. Turbidity currents generated by the earliest deltas to breach the shelf break were of sufficient magnitude to erode a broad, shallow inner-fan valley at the base of the slope. This valley initially focused turbidity currrents onto a base-of-slope terrace, which was mapped on top of the Gunsight Limestone, and formed by differential compaction over a subjacent Canyon delta or carbonate buildup. Low gradients associated with this terrace gave rise to a sediment trap. Nearly all existing production in Flowers Field is established above this terrace. Turbidites deposited within this phase of Swastika evolution display characteristics of an elongate/radial type fan deposit. Continued deltaic progradation filled the inner-fan valley. Once this valley was breached, a network of small channels originating as gullies along slopes in front of the advancing Swastika delta system transported sediment down the slope to form an aggrading/prograding wedge of turbidite and volumetrically less significant grain flow deposits. This change in depositional style led to superposition of what is best classified as an elongate/debris apron type system over the earlier elongate/radial deposits. A critical conclusion is that no single channel developed into a large canyon feeder system, which resulted in facies relationships that differ from commonly accepted models calling on a prolonged point source. Given the importance of turbidite sands in many petroliferous basins, application of the delta-fed model to appropriate turbidite systems can improve exploration strategies.