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Create Your Own Carbonate Platform: Modeling the Modern for Insights to Ancient Reservoirs

Steffen, Kelley 1; Hughes, Tina 1; Kaczmarek, Stephen E.1
1 ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company, Houston, TX.

Modern carbonate platforms are commonly used as analogs for ancient reservoirs to better understand sedimentologic and diagenetic characteristics and distributions. Modern studies, however, rarely address temporal variability of these dynamic systems. Understanding modern growth, facies distribution, and geometric expression of modern carbonates is important for characterizing reservoir architecture. Both spatial and temporal constraints are necessary for a more complete depiction. Due to the fundamental importance of the vertical succession in understanding modern carbonate systems, this study attempts to add a predictive nature to the temporal component through forward sediment modeling. As part of the research efforts to characterize the modern carbonate system, world-wide, the current investigation uses the process-based, forward sediment carbonate platform modeling package CARB3D+ to model several isolated platforms in different ocean basins around the world. The platforms chosen for this study, Glovers, Lighthouse, Turneffe, Heron Island, Cocos, and Takabonerate, have robust, calibrated facies maps derived from satellite images and field observations. Moreover, these systems represent a wide range of sizes, physiographic settings, tectonic histories and hydrodynamic regimes in which to test this approach. An advantage of using a modeling tool like CARB3D+ is that the controlling parameters are based on observations of physical processes. CARB3D+ uses observed hydrodynamics, production rates, and realistic sea level curves to model geometry and facies distribution. Additionally, it is relatively simple to run sensitivity tests which can result in a better understanding of the fundamental controls and constraints on platform development. This ability also represents an important quality control step to ensure sediment models are reproducible and have representative facies and geologic property distributions that can be extracted. Making better and more predictive depositional models can have significant implications for carbonate reservoir development and production.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90090©2009 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, June 7-10, 2009