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Quantitative Paleobathymetric Analysis from Subsidence Data: Example from Middle Ordovician of Michigan Basin

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Quantitative paleobathymetry is difficult to determine for any rock sequence with a significant subtidal component. Water depth estimates are traditionally obtained from detailed sedimentology and paleontology, but this type of data is seldom available in subsurface work. Further, a good geological data base may be inconclusive for paleobathymetry in subtidal or substorm-wave base environments. More accurate facies prediction would be possible if paleobathymetry could be determined from the conventional subsurface data normally available to explorationists.

Subsidence analysis of sedimentary basins has the potential to provide precise paleobathymetric estimates for a variety of depositional settings. This technique is illustrated using the Middle Ordovician carbonates of the Michigan basin. Tectonic subsidence patterns established from stratigraphic and subsidence modeling of the Lower-Middle Ordovician Prairie du Chien Group in Michigan are projected forward through the Middle Ordovician. Isopach thicknesses of the Black River and Trenton carbonates are superimposed on the tectonic subsidence patterns to provide a quantitative basin-fill model. The model paleobathymetry is then compared with core data from exploration wells to evaluate the model facies interpretation. An excellent fit is achieved for the shallow to deep subtidal platfor and basinal Trenton carbonates. This technique allows paleobathymetry to be calculated in many basins where tectonic subsidence patterns can be accurately modeled.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91022©1989 AAPG Annual Convention, April 23-26, 1989, San Antonio, Texas.