Paleokarst system development in the San Andres Formation, Permian Basin, revealed by seismic characterization


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Journal of Applied Geophysics

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Paleokarst systems are one of the major factors resulting in carbonate reservoir heterogeneity and compartmentalization. Nevertheless, few effective workflows have been proposed to map the 3D distribution of such systems. We describe a detailed seismic characterization approach integrating core, well log and rock physics analysis, to reveal a complex subsurface paleokarst system in the San Andres Formation, Permian basin, West Texas. In the area of high volume production, the collapsed paleokarst system is characterized by irregularly developed crackle and fracture breccias, mosaic breccias and cave fillings in the Upper San Andres Formation, which are delineated using seismic acoustic impedance. Along the transition from platform to basin, the paleokarst system is marked by a linear collapse including sags and small vertical faults that are recognizable in seismic imaging. Production data indicates that tight paleokarst zones cause reservoir compartmentalization and influence fluid communication between wells. The complex paleokarst system development is explained using a carbonate platform hydrological model, an outcrop analogue similar to modern marine hydrological environments within carbonate islands. Our method of model development for complex subsurface paleokarst systems may be applicable to other paleoenvironments.


Paleokarst, Seismic characterization, Reservoir compartmentalization, Paleokarst development carbonate platform hydrological model

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