• beach and bars;
  • spatio-temporal distribution;
  • high-resolution stratigraphy;
  • continental basin, China;
  • controlling factors


As an important reservoir type in the Bohai Bay Basin, China, lacustrine beach and bar sands which refer to the shallow water complex deposited mainly by nearshore, delta-rim and buried hill-related beaches as well as longshore bars were developed in a particular stage in the evolution of those faulted Cenozoic continental depressions. In the Chezhen Depression, for example, the Second Member of the Oligocene Shehejie Formation (abbr. as Es2 hereafter) formed during the rifting-to-thermal subsidence transitional stage. Although well developed in Es2, beach and bar sands are difficult to recognize owing to their relative thinness. The paper summarizes sedimentary characteristics of lacustrine beach and bar sands on cores and logs. Low-angle cross-stratification, swash stratification, as well as occasional small-scale hummocky cross-stratification resulted from storms can be observed in beach and bar sands. The paper distinguishes bars and beaches from each other in Es2 mainly based on the grain-size, bed thickness, facies succession and log responses.

In order to predict the distribution of beach and bars, a chrono-stratigraphic correlation framework of Es2 in the study strata is established using a high-resolution sequence stratigraphic approach. Es2 strata are sub-divided into six medium-scale cycles and the mapping of the high-frequency cycles allows the geographic and stratigraphic distribution of both beach and bar sands to be predicted. The study shows that beach and bars are better developed in times of base-level fall than in base-level rise. Factors such as lake-level fluctuation, sediment supply, palaeogeomorphology and palaeowind direction have exerted control on the formation and distribution of beach and bar sands. Finally, the genetic pattern of beach and bar sands in the Es2 unit has been constructed, which provides a foundation for the prediction of beach and bars reservoir in continental basins in general. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.