2019 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition:

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Analytical Solutions for Growth of Linear Carbonate Platforms


Carbonate platforms are unmatched repositories of our planet’s physical, chemical and biological evolutionary history. Carbonate reservoirs are also host to more than 60% of world’s oil and 40% of world’s gas reserves. One of the main challenges in understanding facies distribution in carbonate platforms is predicting the growth patterns of carbonate platforms through time. Predicting these growth patterns is essential in carbonate reservoir exploration as the growth patterns control facies distribution and internal stratigraphic architecture of the carbonate platforms. Various forward stratigraphic modeling techniques have been used to simulate carbonate platform evolution as a function of sediment production, transport, tectonic subsidence, and eustasy. However, modeling the complex interaction between these physical factors generally leads to non-linear sets of equations that are not only inherently complex to solve but also prohibit the complete exploration of parameter space. To overcome this challenge, we have developed a comprehensive set of simple analytical equations with closed solutions that predict carbonate platform trajectories as a function of initial platform height, subsidence, sediment production, transport, and eustasy. The advantage of these equations is that they can be applied to predict platform behavior using minimal information. In particular, the model predicts the conditions under which platforms will prograde, aggrade, or retrograde and how slope geometry impacts these tendencies. To test the practical applicability of our growth equations, we applied our model to the Permian Capitan Reef of West Texas and the Carboniferous Sierra Del Cuera carbonate platform in Spain.