Paleogeomorphology restoration and the controlling effects of paleogeomorphology on karst reservoirs: a case study of an ordovician-aged section in Tahe oilfield, Tarim Basin, China

Changcheng Han
Chengyan Lin
Lihua Ren

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The Tarim Basin is the largest petroliferous basin in northwestern China and contains the Tahe oilfield, the highest hydrocarbon enrichment in the entire basin. Paleogeomorphology has important controlling effects on carbonate reservoir development. Using core data, thin sections and drilling, logging and seismic data, paleokarst was identified and analyzed. The paleogeomorphology of the top low-middle Ordovician was recovered following a comprehensive utilization of the impression and residual thickness methods in combination with unconformity identification. Based on the filling thickness and residual thickness, the karst paleogeomorphic units were classified, and their controlling effects on reservoirs analyzed. The second-order paleogeomorphic units primarily include four types: karst highland, karst gentle⁃slope, karst steep⁃slope and karst basin. The karst gentle⁃slope and karst steep⁃slope are further classified quantitatively into third-order paleogeomorphic units (monadnock, tableland, karst terrace and trench). The results show that the development of the karst reservoir differed in different geomorphic units. In the karst gentle slope, the favorable areas for karst reservoir development are the karst terrace, tableland, monadnock, and the ends and flanks of trench. In the karst steep⁃slope, the karst terrace and tableland are favorable areas. In the vertical vadose and phreatic zones of the gentle-slope region, a large number of caves and underground river systems developed, but in the steep-slope region, only a small number of shafts and isolated caves are observed. This study plays an important role in oil and gas exploration and development.