GHOSH, SANTOSH K.
Subaerial unconformities, common worldwide, are created by eustatic sea level fall and/or tectonic uplift. The increased porosities in sandstones at unconformities result from dissolution of labile grains like feldspar, lithic fragments, and other unstable mineral grains and cements by undersaturated carbon dioxide-rich meteoric waters. Even quartz and chert may dissolve, as observed in the Roraima table mountains in Venezuela. Dissolution is most effective in the coarsest, best sorted and permeable sandstones. Other porosity-controlling factors include mineralogy, grain size, nature and extent of initial diagenesis, climate, duration of subaerial exposure, and timing of hydrocarbon migration.
A common attribute of these unconformity-related sandstones is that they were subaerially exposed in a humid, warm setting, characterized by abundant rainfall. In the Maracaibo Basin, various northwest-southeast trending fault-bounded reservoirs in the Eocene deltaic-paralic Misoa Formation exhibit a systematic trend of diagenetic evolution related to the post-Eocene uplift. The reservoirs are truncated by the erosional SB-39.5 unconformity. Both porosity and permeability show maximum values (twenty-four percent and 2000md respectively) near the truncated erosional edge. The minimum values (twelve percent and 5Omd) occur farthest from the unconformity subcrop in areas beyond the influence of undersaturated waters. Additionally, saturated meteoric waters from the subcrop edge percolate downdip, mix with deeper connate water and precipitate cements in the southeast, further reducing reservoir quality.
In-depth exploration of unconformity related plays will yield significant dividends but it would require integrated analysis of depositional facies, petrology, diagenesis, and burial history, in relation to timing of hydrocarbon migration and structural development.