AAPG Foundation 2019 Grants-in-Aid Projects

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Development of Statistical Metrics to Understand Stratigraphic Architecture in Deep-Water Fan Deposits


Internal processes in deep-water sediment routing systems strongly influence the stratigraphic organization of submarine fans over basin filling time-scales. At present we lack a suite of statistical metrics that can accurately characterize stratigraphic architecture of deep-water fan deposits. This challenges our ability to statistically forecast stratigraphic architecture from regional forcings or extract paleo flow-field dynamics from stratigraphy. We hypothesize that the Froude number of turbidity currents is strongly correlated to the strength of compensational stacking in deep-water fans, which we will test by measuring a recently developed stratigraphic statistic: the compensation index. We propose a couple of experiments motivated from an ongoing numerical and experimental campaign on deep-water fans. The spatiotemporal evolution of the turbidity flows over an initially constant slope under steady and then varying sediment fluxes are expected to yield thick submarine fans. These experiments will yield a high-resolution time-series of the evolving topography, stratigraphic attributes, and sediment transport and flow-field dynamics at the time of deposition. Statistical analysis will focus on exploring basin fill patterns, stratigraphic completeness and varying flow-field parameters in the experimental deposit. Preliminary results obtained from linking stratigraphic statistics to flow and sediment transport parameters provides the quantitative framework to predict the rate and style of channel mobility, and spatial distributions of sedimentation within a mass-balance framework. Validation of these statistics by physical experiments will aid stratigraphic predictions and interpretation of environmental signals from preserved stratigraphy in deep-water settings.