--> Devonian Reefal Platforms of the Canning Basin – Lessons Learned and Value as Analogs, by Charles Kerans and Paul M. (Mitch) Harris #40302 (2008)

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Devonian Reefal Platforms of the Canning Basin – Lessons Learned and Value as Analogs*


Charles Kerans1 and Paul M. (Mitch) Harris2


Search and Discovery Article #40302 (2008)

Posted September 8, 2008


*Adapted from oral presentation at AAPG Annual Convention, Long Beach, CA, April 1-4, 2007
Click to view list of articles adapted from presentations by P.M. (Mitch) Harris or by his co-workers and him at AAPG meetings from 2000 to 2008.


1 Department of Geological Sciences, University of Texas, Austin, TX ([email protected])

2 Chevron Energy Technology Company, San Ramon, CA. ([email protected])



Outcrops of Devonian reef-rimmed carbonate shelves in the Canning Basin of Western Australia have provided fundamental insight into our understanding of carbonate systems and served as invaluable analogs for reef-rimmed platforms of all ages. This extraordinary example of an exhumed barrier reef complex with preserved paleotopography and superb cross-sectional gorge exposures fosters construction of unambiguous depositional and early diagenetic models for ancient carbonates. Generating well-constrained shelf-to-basin profiles that serve as models for macrofauna and microbial associations distributions, as well as models illustrating the fundamental importance of early marine diagenesis, have been at the heart of the work that Playford and the Geological Survey of Western Australia have generated through five decades of sustained research along the Lennard Shelf.

As the science of carbonate geology has evolved, the Canning Basin Devonian platforms have served as a testing ground for sequence stratigraphic models, reciprocal clastic/carbonate sedimentation patterns, cyclostratigraphic analysis of greenhouse carbonates, controls on architecture and style of carbonate slope deposits, and for understanding of paleogeographic and stratigraphic controls on fracture distributions. Increased activity in the Timon-Pechura, Pre-Caspian, and Alberta basins, all with major producing horizons of Frasnian and/or Famennian age, combined with a steady need for improved generic carbonate models, will ensure a high level of relevance for these outcrops for future generations of researchers.
























































Selected Figures

Canning Basin Givetian-Famennian, 2nd order sequence (Playford, 2002).

Western Canadian 2nd Order Givetian-Famennian sequence (Wendte et al., 1992).

Bolshoi Karatau 2nd order supersequences (Frasnian-Famennian, Tournaisian - Lower Visean, Lower Visean - Upper Visean, Serpukhovian-Bashkirian) (Zempolich et al., 2004).

Latest Leonardian-Guadalupian 2nd order supersequence.

Guadalupe outcrop dominated by dip cross-sections, youngest reef front only map-view.

Lennard Shelf, Canning Basin.

Prograding Famennian platforms fill irregular margin topography and create low sinuosity front.

Model platform that shows lithification throughout platform (Playford, 1980).

Model for formation of Neptunian dikes (syndepositional fractures).

Tengiz reservoir, Kazakhstan, fractures in rim and flank.



  • Type example of 2ndorder stacking pattern and associated facies.
  • Extraordinary map-view and 3D exposures of reef-rimmed platforms.
  • Type area for early marine cementation and its role in reef development.
  • Importance of syndepositional fracture systems.
  • Early and more recent documentation of importance of microbial facies in platform, reef margin, and slope development.
  • Superb analog for Frasnian-Famennian reservoir systems including Timon-Pechura, Pre-Caspian, Alberta Basins.


Selected References

Greenlee, S.M., and P.J. Lehmann, 1993, Stratigraphic framework of productive carbonate buildups: Carbonate Sequence Stratigraphy; Recent Developments and Applications, AAPG Memoir 57, p. 43-62.

Hocking, R., and P.E. Playford, 2002, Siliciclastic conglomerates associated with Devonian reef complexes, Canning Basin, Western Australia: Geological Society of Australia Abstracts, v. 67, p. 361.

Playford, P.E., 2002, Palaeokarst, pseudokarst, and sequence stratigraphy in Devonian reef complexes of the Canning Basin, Western Australia: in The Sedimentary Basins of Western Australia 3; proceedings of the Western Australian Basins Symposium, p. 763-793.

Playford, P.E., 1980, Devonian “great barrier reef” of Canning Basin, Western Australia: AAPG Bulletin, v. 64/6, p. 814-840.

Potma, K., P.K. Wong, J.A.W. Weissenberger, and M.G. Gilhooly, 2001, Toward a sequence stratigraphic framework for the Frasnian of the Western Canada Basin: The Devonian of Western Canada Aspects of a Carbonate Petroleum System, Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology, v. 49/1, p. 37-85.

Wendte, J., F.A. Stoakes, and C.V. Campbell, 1992, Devonian-early Mississippian Carbonates of the Western Canada sedimentary basin; a Sequence Stratigraphic Framework: SEPM short course, 28, 255 p.

Zempolich, W.G., and H.E. Cook, 2002, Paleozoic carbonates of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); introduction: in Paleozoic Carbonates of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Subsurface Reservoirs and Outcrop Analogs, W.G. Zempolich and H.E. Cook editors, SEPM special publication 74, p. 1-5.


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