Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Clastics

Basin-Scale Analysis of a Confined Turbidite System (Grès d'Annot, SE France)

Course Code: N112
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
6 days


This courses nalyses the initiation, fill history, and links between a suite of structurally confined deepwater sub-basins, with reference to local and regional scale facies and stratigraphic architecture. A 3D grid of restored structural cross sections are used to provide the structural framework for the linked mini-basins. Photos are used for seismic-scale observations, with logged sections of the outcrop for well-scale, and hands-on study of core-scale bed patterns and facies. Participants will analyse proximal-distal variations within single sub-basins and between mini-basins, and compare a range of mini-basin margins settings. The Grès d’Annot includes a range of bed-scale deposits: low and high concentration turbidites, debris flows, slumps, and slides.

Business impact: Participation in this course will enhance understanding of subsurface deepwater basins that are confined by structures related to salt- or mud-deformation, faults, and fault-related topography. Participants will gain structural-stratigraphic tools and techniques for analysing these basins by using outcrop examples of an analogous suite of linked deepwater minibasins. Throughout this course, the implications for reservoir presence and deliverability, seal presence, and stratigraphic trap integrity are predicted and considered within the constraints of data available to subsurface geoscientists in different parts of the value chain.


A highly integrated comprehensive course that presents the basin scale architecture clearly, and augmented large scale relationships with detailed facies description. Really enjoyed the course - learned a lot. Exceptionally good presentation of geography.

Duration and Training Method

A field course based in the French Alps, supported by classroom sessions in a 90:10 ratio. Subsurface case studies of confined mini-basins are used, both in the field and classroom.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

    1. Assess discrete, structurally controlled sediment transport pathways into bathymetrically complex deepwater basins.
    2. Evaluate the role of basin initiation and closure as external controls on basin fill and remobilization sequences.
    3. Assess the role of relative structural and flow confinement on turbidite reservoir and seal facies, reservoir stacking patterns, and stratigraphic architectures.
    4. Characterise different reservoir architectures in a series of mini-basins from proximal, shallow marine, through base of slope to mid and distal basin settings.
    5. Characterise the range of bed-scale deposits from low density to high-density turbidites, linked turbidite-debrite deposits, and multiple scales of sediment remobilization.
    6. Assess the role of active structures, beneath and within the turbidite basin, on slope instability, and predict impact of seismic-scale reservoir heterogeneity (mass transport complexes) on reservoir performance.
    7. Validate and combine established models for structurally confined basins and consider the subsurface implications of the different models for linkage between mini-basins.
    8. Predict different basin margin onlaps and assess related stratigraphic trap definition and seal integrity risks.

    At all times, participants will make outcrop observations in the context of subsurface data, in plays from deepwater fold and thrust belts, rift and early post-rift settings and salt provinces. As the course progresses, participants will gain an appreciation of the different reservoir architecture within, and between individual sub-basins, and be in a position to predict the factors controlling these differences. This will lead to an improved understanding of the distinctions between partially confined and ponded basins, and the effects of confinement on bed-scale deposits, architecture, reservoir stacking patterns and stratigraphic basin-fill sequences.

    Day 0 - Arrival in Nice
    Evening course safety brief and introductory talk followed by group dinner.

    Day 1
    Analysis of the up-dip, basin margin feeder system to the Gres d’Annot basin and its potential impact on sediment delivery to the deepwater system. Location of the principal deepwater sediment transport pathways of the Gres d’Annot and controls on their position.

    Day 2
    Initiation of the Grès d’Annot basin: brief examination of deformed Cretaceous limestones and base Tertiary unconformity, and the deepening sequence of Calcaire Nummulitique and Marnes Bleues culminating in the deposition of Grès d’Annot turbidites.

    Analysis of key localities that define the nature of the proximal Annot sub-basin and its fill succession. Seismic-scale examination of high net:gross architectures followed by closer inspection of onlap facies characteristics. Initial discussion of alternative interpretations of the Annot sub-basin as either a through-going channel complex, or a confined or ponded basin.

    Day 3
    Sedimentology and depositional architectures of a high net:gross sheet-like system and channels. Examination of late stage extensional faults in Grès d’Annot. Discussion of sheeted seismic facies and its significance in subsurface deepwater systems.

    Col de la Cayolle: Termination of the basin phase with Grès d’Annot turbidite deposition halted and eroded into by the Schiste-a-Bloc – a thrust propagated, seismic scale mass transport complex with large scale debris flows, olistoliths on decametre to kilometre scale.

    Day 4
    Annot: Examination of major syn-depositional fault within the proximal Annot sub-basin. Close inspection of high-density turbidity current deposits within a strongly confined conduit. Onlap surfaces close to the potential spill point between the proximal Annot sub-basin and the medial Grand Coyer sub-basin. Generic discussion of spill point characteristics in subsurface confined basins.

    Day 5
    Grand Coyer: Analysis of three-dimensional sandstone bodies and stacking pattern characteristics of the turbidite system in the medial Grand Coyer sub-basin; insights into different scales of heterogeneity within a sand-rich turbidite system. Observations on lateral facies variations from sub-basin margin to sub-basin axis, including the effects of gravitational growth faulting.

    Day 6
    Montagne de Chalufy: Anatomy of onlap surfaces at the margins of a distal sub-basin, axial to lateral changes in depositional elements and sand-bodies, and precise nature of sand-body terminations onto the onlap surface. Discussion of the seismic expression of onlap surfaces and onlap plays in sub-surface confined basins. Deepwater channel architecture and filling styles.

    Discussion on the links between the Grès d’Annot proximal, medial and distal sub-basins and relation to ‘fill and spill’ basins.

    Day 7 - Departure from Nice

    The course is designed for geologists and geophysicists evaluating exploration provinces or fields in deepwater confined basins, within deepwater fold and thrust belts, rift and early post-rift settings and salt provinces. Reservoir engineers can also derive a deeper knowledge of the geological parameter ranges that underpin simulation models.

    Gillian Apps

    Gillian has worked as a geoscientist in the hydrocarbon industry for 34 years, for Shell, BP and BHP Billiton. She is currently an independent geoscientist, with specialist skills in sedimentology, and deep experience in structurally complex basins (salt provinces, deepwater fold belts and rift basins). Most of her career opportunities were in the Gulf of Mexico (both US and Mexican waters), Trinidad, the North Sea, and South Atlantic hydrocarbon provinces.

    Her experience includes a wide variety of subsurface geoscience positions, from frontier basin play fairway analysis, through prospect generation, to resource appraisal, project development and oil & gas production. She started her career as a production geophysicist with Shell, with a degree in Earth Sciences from Cambridge; after three years, she returned to university to undertake doctorate research on the structural and stratigraphic evolution of the Grès d’Annot turbidite basin, supervised by Professor Trevor Elliott.

    Since then, she has managed a dual career with her husband Dr Frank Peel, living with their two daughters and working in London, Houston, Melbourne and briefl y, Mexico City and Beijing. Gillian enjoys balancing work with high school STEM outreach programs in Texas and the UK. She now lives and works in the New Forest, UK.

    Affiliations and Accreditation
    PhD University of Liverpool - Geology
    MA University of Cambridge - Natural Sciences

    Courses Taught
    N112: Basin-Scale Analysis of a Confi ned Turbidite System (Grès d’Annot, SE France)

    Frank Peel

    Frank Peel is a geologist with 30 years’ experience in oil and gas exploration and 10 years as an academic researcher; currently a Research Geologist at the Univeristy of Texas at Austin.

    At BP, he was an explorer and structural geology specialist, focusing on structurally complex basins including the UK North Sea, Iraq, the Gulf of Mexico, China and Vietnam. At BHP, he was a technical structural specialist, working basins, prospects and developments across the world, including the GoM, West Africa, Trinidad, Pakistan and Australia.

    As Chief Geologist at BHP, Frank was responsible for prospect integrity and for ensuring the consistency of risk and volume assessment across the company. In 2013, he became an academic researcher. At the University of Texas at Austin, he has focused on salt-related geology, with focus on salt-sediment interactions, the regional geology of the Gulf of Mexico and Iran salt basins, and the processes of deposition of giant salt deposits.

    Affiliations and Accreditation
    MA, University of Cambridge in Natural Sciences
    MSc, Imperial College London in Structural Geology
    PhD, University of Oxford in Geological and Earth Sciences
    Director at Apeel Geoscience Ltd

    Courses Taught
    N112: Basin-Scale Analysis of a Confined Turbidite System

    David Stanbrook

    Stan is a globally experienced sedimentologist and stratigrapher having worked in more than fifty basins and in all major depositional settings. He has over twenty years’ experience working in deep-water clastic (turbidite) systems beginning with ten years based in outcrops. Initial outcrop work was done whilst at Heriot-Watt where he worked on a range of depositional systems in di?erent basinal settings and completed his PhD. He continued his outcrop experience at Nautilus by managing their portfolio of deep-water clastic courses and realized a passion for teaching through the above courses – both of which have run successfully since 2007. Stan has delivered over 30 courses internationally.

    Moving into the subsurface in 2008 with Maersk Oil in Copenhagen, and later Aberdeen, Stan undertook exploration work in Denmark and the UK, at the same time carrying out projects as a turbidite specialist for exploration and development projects in those countries as well as Norway, Angola and the US GOM. In 2015 Stan moved to Kuala Lumpur with Murphy Oil undertaking New Ventures activities in Southeast Asia working in multiple basins across the region as well as providing support to Malaysian development projects. In 2018 Stan moved to Houston taking up the position of global Advisor for Stratigraphy and currently works on development, exploration & new ventures projects in the US GOM, Mexico, Brazil and other basins along the Atlantic Margins.

    Stan’s main technical interests lie in the interaction of turbidity currents with complex topography and the resultant architectural and facies and their relation to reservoir distribution and performance and also enjoys unravelling complex four-dimensional stratigraphy. Stan enjoys diving, cycling and hiking in the clear mountain air.

    Affiliations and Accreditation
    PhD Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh - Turbidite Sedimentology
    BSc University of Bedfordshire - Geology

    Courses Taught
    N033: Characterisation, Modelling, Simulation and Development Planning in Deepwater Clastic Reservoirs (Tabernas,Spain)
    N112: Basin-Scale Analysis of a Confined Turbidite System (Grès d’Annot, SE France)
    N570: Deepwater Clastic Systems - Processes, Products, Architectural Elements and Strategies for E&P

    CEU: 4.8 Continuing Education Units
    PDH: 48 Professional Development Hours
    Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
    RPS is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. We comply with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is recognised internationally as a standard of excellence in instructional practices.
    We issue a Certificate of Attendance which verifies the number of training hours attended. Our courses are generally accepted by most professional licensing boards/associations towards continuing education credits. Please check with your licensing board to determine if the courses and certificate of attendance meet their specific criteria.