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Characterization of a Mass Transport Deposit Using Seismic Attributes: Upper Leonard Interval, Midland Basin, West Texas


Characterization of a Mass Transport Deposit using Seismic Attributes: Upper Leonard Interval, Midland Basin, West Texas

Paritosh Bhatnagar and Sumit Verma

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Ron Bianco

Fasken Oil and Ranch


The Permian Basin is a structurally complex sedimentary basin with an extensive history of tectonic deformation. As the basin evolved through time sediments dispersed into the basin floor leading to various mass movements that are well documented in the Permian period. One such mass movement was observed on 3D seismic in the Upper Leonard interval (Middle Permian) of the Midland Basin that is characteristic of a Mass Transport Deposit (MTD). The Leonardian stratigraphy in the Midland Basin records deposition in an intracratonic deep water basin, bounded by shallow water carbonate platforms. Wireline correlations indicate that cyclic Leonardian platform deposits started prograding towards the basin into massive, clinoformal carbonates on the slope, which in turn, grade into flat lying calcareous and siliciclastic intervals. Previous studies done in the upper Leonard interval characterizes MTDs using wireline and image logs as well as outcrop studies that aims at understanding the soft sediment deformation of these types of deposits. Although, mass movements have been extensively studied within the Permian Basin, little work has been published on the nature of these MTDs and their related geomorphological expression on seismic. The following study aims at characterizing the internal and external architecture of a MTD observed within the Upper Leonard interval in the medial basin centered portion of the Midland Basin using 3D seismic. The feature mapped in the study area is 7 miles wide and extends up to 15 miles basinward. Geometric attributes such as coherence and structural curvature are used to delineate the different features (lateral wall, thrust faults, slide/slump) that comprises the discontinuous MTD. A different phenomenon was observed within the MTD that is interpreted as gravity spreading. Well log analysis shows the MTD is a mix of carbonates and shales and interpreted as slope strata.