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Utilizing Channel-Belt Scaling Parameters to Constrain Discharge and Drainage Basin Character With Application to the Cretaceous to Teritary Evolution of the Gulf of Mexico

Abstract

Fluvial systems possess a range of scaling relationships that reflect drainage-basin controls on water and sediment flux. Quaternary channel-belt thickness (as controlled by bank-full water discharge) has been documented as a reliable first-order proxy for drainage basin size if climatic regimes are independently constrained. In hydrocarbon exploration and production, scaling relationships for fluvial deposits can be utilized to constrain drainage basin size with implications for sequence-stratigraphic interpretations. This study documents the scales of channel belts within Cretaceous to Tertiary fluvial successions from the Gulf of Mexico. Data on single-storey channel-belt scales were compiled from well logs and utilized to constrain contributing catchment areas of Cretaceous, Wilcox, and Oligocene fluvial systems. The data indicate that the Wilcox and Oligocene fluvial systems were significantly larger than the Cretaceous fluvial systems which can be related to drainage basin reorganization. Furthermore the Wilcox fluvial systems were relatively larger than the Oligocene fluvial systems. This could reflect either smaller drainage basins or climatic aridification. These scaling relationships can be validated by regional paleogeographic maps and provide additional insight to the sediment routing systems through time.