Evolution, architecture and hierarchy of distributary deep-water deposits: a high-resolution outcrop investigation from the Permian Karoo Basin, South Africa

Authors


Abstract

Sea floor and shallow seismic data sets of terminal submarine fan lobes can provide excellent planform timeslices of distributive deep-water systems but commonly only limited information on cross-sectional architecture. Extensive outcrops in the Tanqua depocentre, south-west Karoo Basin, provide these three-dimensional constraints on lithofacies distributions, stacking patterns, depositional geometries and the stratigraphic evolution of submarine lobe deposits at a scale comparable with modern lobe systems. Detailed study (bed-scale) of a single-lobe complex (Fan 3) over a 15 km by 8 km area has helped to define a four-fold hierarchy of depositional elements from bed through to lobe element, lobe and lobe complex. The Fan 3 lobe complex comprises six distinct fine-grained sandstone packages, interpreted as lobes, which display compensational stacking patterns on a 5 km scale. Between successive lobes are thin-bedded, very fine-grained sandstones and siltstones that do not change lithofacies over several kilometres and therefore are identified as a different architectural element. Each lobe is built by many lobe elements, which also display compensational stacking patterns over a kilometre scale. Thickness variations of lobe elements can be extremely abrupt without erosion, particularly in distal areas where isopach maps reveal a finger-like distal fringe to lobes. Lobe deposits, therefore, are not simple radial sheet-dominated systems as commonly envisaged.

Ancillary