Internal architecture and sedimentary evolution of coarse-grained, turbidite channel-levee complexes, Early Eocene Regência Canyon, Espírito Santo Basin, Brazil



Successions of Early Eocene coarse-grained turbidites up to 400 m thick fill fault-controlled canyons along the eastern Brazilian continental margin. They form part of a Late Albian to Early Eocene transgressive succession characterized by onlapping, deepening-upward sedimentation. In the Lagoa Parda oil field (Regência Canyon, Espírito Santo Basin) the turbidite facies consist mostly of unstratified conglomerate and sandstone, with interbedded bioturbated mudstone and thin-bedded, stratified sandstone. Within the main Regência Canyon, the coarser grained facies occur within 38 deeply incised channels. The fills are 9 to >50 m thick, 210 to >1050 m wide and >1 km long. The finer grained facies build asymmetrical levees that are higher and thicker on the left side (looking downstream) of their channels, probably as an effect of the Coriolis force (to the left in the Southern Hemisphere). Nine levee successions up to 50 m thick are associated with the 20 youngest channels. The deposits filling the low-sinuosity Lagoa Parda channels record successive channel abandonment through relatively rapid avulsions. Avulsions of unleveed channels took place randomly, but channels with well-developed levees show preferential avulsion to the right (looking downstream), opposite to the direction of preferential levee growth.

Lagoa Parda channels can be grouped into three complexes 20–100 m thick. These complexes have an estimated duration of about 140 000 years. It is suggested that control of the development of individual channel complexes was related to variation in sediment supply, in turn probably related to climatic changes. The deposition of each channel complex would have followed an increase in sediment supply into the Regência Canyon through delta/fan-delta and littoral drift systems, which in turn would have responded to phases of higher denudation rates in the high-relief, ancestral coastal ranges of south-eastern Brazil.

Overall, the three Lagoa Parda channel complexes form a turbidite succession characterized by channel fills that become narrower, thinner and finer grained upward. These trends were induced mostly by a longer term (>400 000 years) decrease in sediment supply, which in turn resulted from the combined effects of a long-term (second-order) trend of sea-level rise, and the decreasing fault activity at the basin margin and source area.