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Deltaic Environments

Part 2

Module outline
Delta classification
Deltaic depositional elements
Delta plain
Delta front
Prodelta

Deltaic reservoir geometries

Mississippi Delta, USA

Mahakam Delta, Indonesia

River Delta, Borneo

Delta classification

Ganges Delta, Bangladesh

Schematic delta
cross-section

Next page
Allen and Chambers (1998)

Idealised vertical profiles


Wave-Dominated

Fluvial-Dominated

Tidal-Dominated

Allen and Chambers (1998)

Delta depositional elements


Delta plain
Distributary channels
Crevasse splays and deltas

Mouth bars
Prodelta (muds)

Module outline
Delta classification
Deltaic depositional elements
Delta plain
Delta front
Prodelta

Deltaic reservoir geometries

Delta plain
Landward limit of coastal
processes
First major bifurcation (head
of passes)
Change in gradient, almost
flat surface
Decrease in marine or
brackish infaunal
bioturbation; but bioturbation
does occur in the alluvial
plain
Alluvial plain typically
meandering, whereas
distributaries usually straight

Alluvial
Plain

Delta
Front

Distributary
Mouth Bar

Delta
Plain
Distributary
Channel

Prodelta/
Shelf
Previous
Shoreline
Modified from Allen and Chambers, 1998

Mahakam Delta
head of passes

Mahakam Delta plain

Distributary channels
Typically straight, but have a
sinuous thalweg
Depths up to 40m, but
generally 5-20m deep
Widths from 10s to 100s m,
up to Kms
Fluvial dominated channels
are commonly a zone of
sand bypass; sidebars are
frequent
Tide dominated distributary
channels are more
heterolithic than fluvial
dominated

Alluvial
Plain

Delta
Front

Distributary
Mouth Bar

Delta
Plain
Distributary
Channel

Prodelta/
Shelf
Previous
Shoreline
Modified from Allen and Chambers, 1998

Mackenzie Delta, northern


Canada distributary channel
Delta
plain

Distributary
channel
Floodbasin

Fluvial distributary
profile
Typical vertical profile
of a fluvial dominated
distributary channel
Note the overall
finingfining-upwards facies
succession

Typical tideinfluenced
distributary
channel fill

Fluvial vs tidal
distributary channels

Allen and Chambers (1998)

Depth profile through a Mahakam


Delta distributary

Modified after Allen and


Chambers (1998)

Distributary channel outcrop,


Miocene Mahakam Delta

4m

4m

Fluvial-dominated distributary
channel model

Modified from Allen


and Chambers (1998)

Tide-influenced distributary channel


model

Tide-dominated Indus
Delta, Pakistan

Alluvial Plain

Delta Plain

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Delta Plain
Major fluvial
discharge
Minor fluvial
discharge
Tidedominated
channels

Tidal influence on
the Mahakam
Delta, Indonesia
Actual tidal channels
and tide-influenced
distributary channels
coexist with fluvialdominated distributary
channels

Levees and crevasse


splays/deltas
Levees form in floods, both subaqueous
and subaerial and are commonly
vegetated
Levees border the distributary channels
Crevasse Splays, channels and minideltas exist on the delta plain with both
fining-up and coarsening motifs

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Typical delta elements, Mississippi Delta


Crevasse
Channel

Distributary
Channel

Crevasse
Splay

Delta
Plain

Crevasse
Channel

Levee
Levee
Breach

Crevasse
Delta

Crevasse
Channel

Crevasse
Channel

Distributary
Channel

Distributary
Channel
Bifurcation

1km

Image from NASA web site

Crevasse splay examples


Distributary Channel

Main
Channel
Crevasse
Delta

Crevasse
Delta

Floodbasin
Floodbasin
Distributary Channel

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Module outline
Delta classification
Deltaic depositional elements
Delta plain
Delta front
Prodelta

Deltaic reservoir geometries

Mouth bars
Formed when flow velocity
declines at the river mouth and
sediment falls from suspension
and accumulates as a bar
(coarsening-upward) and can be
fluvial, tidal or wave dominated
Fluvial bouyancy dominated flows
produce lobate mouth bars &
subaqueous levees
Fluvial friction dominated flows
produce triangular mouth bars
Tidal suspension/friction
dominated flows produce elongate
mouth bars
W/T ratios typically >1:1000, 515m thick and >4km wide; wave
dominated >>5km

Alluvial
Plain

Delta
Front

Distributary
Mouth Bar

Delta
Plain
Distributary
Channel

Prodelta/
Shelf
Previous
Shoreline
Modified from Allen and Chambers, 1998

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Schematic
illustration of the
three major
processes
controlling
sediment
distribution in
fluvial-dominated
delta front
environments
Allen and Chambers (1998)

Example of
a mouthbar
on the
Mississippi
Delta

Image from NASA website

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Schematic illustration of the geometry


of mouth bars in fluvial- and tidedominated deltaic settings

Allen and Chambers (1998)

Morphology of delta front sand


deposits

A: Infrared Landsat image of a bifurcating channel around a mouthbar (arrow) and


b: aerial photo of a mouthbar
Allen and Chambers (1998)

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Morphology and
surface
sediment
distribution with
bathymetry of a
distributary
mouth on the
modern
Mahakam Delta,
Indonesia
Allen and Chambers (1998)

Model of a mouthbar formation at the


bifurcation of a distributary channel

Allen and Chambers (1998)

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Vertical
model of a
mouthbar
formation at
the
bifurcation
of a
distributary
channel
Allen and Chambers (1998)

Mahakam Delta mouthbar from the air note that


the mouthbar is completely subaqueous

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Mahakam Delta mouthbar approach


during falling tide

Mahakam Delta mouthbar closeup photo


taken at low spring tide, when the mouthbar
top is exposed

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Module outline
Delta classification
Deltaic depositional elements
Delta plain
Delta front
Prodelta

Deltaic reservoir geometries

Prodelta
Prodelta deposits consist
of silt and clay from
suspension deposition
Dips gently seaward
Onlaps onto shelf
Good potential source
and seal

Alluvial
Plain

Delta
Front

Distributary
Mouth Bar

Delta
Plain
Distributary
Channel

Prodelta/
Shelf
Previous
Shoreline
Modified from Allen and Chambers, 1998

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Module outline
Delta classification
Deltaic depositional elements
Delta plain
Delta front
Prodelta

Deltaic reservoir geometries

Log examples of individual progradational,


transgressive regressive cycles, Miocene Kutei
Basin, Indonesia

Allen and Chambers (1998)

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Stacking patterns in the


Cretaceous Plover/ Elang
Formation , NW Shelf, Australia
Mouthbar
Distributary
Distributary
Distributary

Mouthbar

Incised?

Fluvial
Distributary
Mouthbar

Fluvio-deltaic
succession
Fining- and
coarseningupwards facies
succession
Logs show incised?
fluvial channels,
fluvial-dominated
distributary channels
and mouthbars

Model of reservoir facies and reservoir


properties in a deltaic system

Allen and Chambers (1998)

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Vertical
profile
through a
mouthbar
and
distributary
channel
succession
Allen and Chambers (1998)

Sand
isopach
map of a
Miocene
distributary
channel,
Kutei Basin,
Indonesia
Allen and Chambers (1998)

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Reservoir, facies
and porosity
maps of a
complex delta
front mouthbar
and distributary
channel system,
Handil Field,
Kutei Basin,
Indonesia
Allen and Chambers (1998)

Hypothetical seismic expression of


a distributary and a fluvial channel
Fluvial channel belt

Distributary

5km

5km

Channel reservoir width-thickness ratios:


50:1 Fluvial-dominated distributary (15:1 100:1)
>100:1 Meandering river
500:1 Braided river
Payenberg and Lang (2003)

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3D seismic expression of a distributary


channel, Sumatra, Indonesia

Fluvial meanders and distributary channels


in the Malay Basin, based on a 3D seismic
timeslice
2km
Distributary
channel

Fa
u

lt

Sandy
sidebar

Meander belts

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