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Geological Mounds and Their Seismic Expression

SWARBRICK, RICHARD E., University of Durham, Durham, U.K.

Mound geometry (convex upward structure developed above a subhorizontal surface) is common in many geological environments and frequently observed in 2-dimensions on seismic sections. Seismic mounds are typically associated with deep-water clastic sediments, e.g. submarine fans and slumps, and with a variety of carbonate depositional settings, e.g. reefs and banks, but also exist in other depositional settings. Recognition will be dependent on mound dimension, velocity contrast, amplitude strength, and the resolution of the seismic data.

Since mounds can represent an important exploration target and recognition of porous, hydrocarbon-bearing section is all-important, careful restitution of the original depositional morphology from the seismic data is required. Details of present velocity distribution are critical, along with a realistic concept of any post-depositional modification, such as compaction, which may have taken place during burial. Where differential compaction is taking place, for example between sand and shale, seismic expression of morphology will be continually modified during progressive burial. Analysis of structure at the top and base of the mound can provide support for lithological interpretation based on other criteria, such as seismic facies analysis based on internal and external reflections.

Modeling, using parameters from mounds in a variety of known depositional settings, illustrates many of the interpretational problems associated with seismic mounds and provides some objective criteria for analysis of mound morphology. Comparison is made with real data, principally from northwest Europe and North America.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91004 © 1991 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas, Texas, April 7-10, 1991 (2009)