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North Sea Turbidite Systems: Core Characteristics and Reservoir Quality of Intra-basinal ‘Classical’ Turbidites vs. Extra-basinal Hyperpycnal Systems

Course Code: W008
Instructors:  John CaterRonald Steel
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
2 days


The workshop will explain the depositional processes operating in marine gravity-flow systems and will use core and outcrop examples to demonstrate characteristic features of ‘classical’, hyperpycnal (delta-fed) and bottom-current systems.  Cored intervals from Norwegian Jurassic, Cretaceous and Palaeocene reservoirs will demonstrate the depositional facies that characterise each system. Outcrop examples of hyperpycnal systems in Spitzbergen, Utah and Argentina will be compared with cores from recent discoveries offshore Norway to illustrate criteria for distinguishing delta-fed hyperpycnal systems in shelfal and basinal settings from ‘classical’ surge-type turbidites. 

Duration and Training Method

A workshop comprising core analysis interdispersed with lectures.  Classroom exercises will focus on depositional and diagenetic controls on reservoir quality in these systems and their prediction in the subsurface.

Course Overview

The course will include classroom lectures to explain the depositional processes that operate in submarine gravity-flow systems and their products as seen at core, outcrop and seismic scale.  Core viewing and guided hands-on exercises will demonstrate the products of surge-type flows, hyperpycnal flows and bottom-current reworking, using released data from producing fields offshore Norway. The course will focus on the criteria used to recognise the products of hyperpycnal systems and on key controls on their subsurface reservoir properties. Fully illustrated course notes and exercise sheets using published/released data will be provided.

DAY 1 – ‘Classical’ surge-type, intrabasinal turbidites and bottom-current deposits

- Key processes and products in core and at outcrop
- Exercises using core from the Palaeocene Forties, Turonian Lange and Campanian Kvitnos Formations, offshore Norway
- Recognition and significance of linked debrites, plus mapping exercise using published data
- Core-based and wireline-based facies classification schemes and predictive models

DAY 2 – Delta-fed hyperpycnal systems

- Key processes and products in core and at outcrop
- Exercises using core from the Aptian/Albian Agat and Oxfordian Heather Formations, offshore Norway
- Depositional controls on reservoir quality and sand-body geometry
- Diagenetic controls on reservoir quality linked to early cementation and under-compaction

It is designed to appeal to all geoscientists working on the subsurface analysis of gravity-flow systems. The concepts discussed are illustrated by cores from offshore Norway but are relevant to the exploration and production geology of turbidite systems worldwide.

John Cater

John is the Principal Reservoir Geologist at RPS Energy in Northwich, England. He undertakes single- and multi-well core description, depositional modelling and reservoir quality studies internationally, with a focus on Mesozoic deep-marine and deltaic deposits offshore Norway. He enjoys tutoring junior colleagues, presenting results at conferences and delivering training courses in the field or classroom.

Between 1986 and 2000 he worked for ESRI, a US-based geological consultancy, taking part in numerous geological surveys mainly in the Middle East and Indo-Pakistan. He taught ESRI’s passive-margin turbidites course in the US and UK and ran a UK-based training course for the Yemeni Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources. He then moved to more subsurface-based work, training in core description and petrography whilst working on multi-well projects with Panterra GeoConsultants in the Netherlands and Ichron Limited in the UK.

For the past 20 years he has worked mainly on deep marine deposits, completing numerous consultancy projects including field-based training courses in Italy and northern Spain. He has developed research interests in delta-fed (hyperpycnal) turbidite systems and in the mixed-salinity early diagenesis of delta fronts, leading to several conference presentations and a multi-client study of the Norwegian Haltenbanken area, to be completed in 2021. When not working, John spends time writing (with plans to publish an account of field geology before 9/11, called ‘Rock Doctor’) and playing drums in a local rock band and an African djembe group.

Affiliations and Accreditation
Research Associate - University of Edinburgh, School of Earth Sciences (Carboniferous sedimentology, northern Britain) 
PhD - University of Birmingham (Neogene sedimentology and tectonics of SE Spain)
BSc - (Upper Second-Class Honours) University of Leicester, Geology and Astronomy

Courses Taught
W019: North Sea Reservoir Series  - Jurassic Reservoirs Series

Ronald Steel

Ron is a Professor at UT Austin (Emeritus from Sept. 2020) teaching Clastic Sedimentary Systems, Sequence Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis. Ron is also an Emeritus 6th-Century Professor at Aberdeen University, an Honorary Professor at Heriot-Watt University and a new tutor for RPS.

Ron is PhD from the University of Glasgow and has been Professor at the University of Bergen, University of Wyoming and The University of Texas, Austin. He was also Chief Geologist at Norsk Hydro in Bergen and Oslo.

Key research topics have been to gain an understanding of the time scales, sediment delivery by deltas and other mechanisms, sediment budget partitioning and growth styles of shelves and shelf margin sedimentary prisms. Ron has published over 200 scientific papers, edited 11 books and supervised some 200 MS and PhD graduate students in Norway and the USA.

Affiliations and Accreditation
BSc & PhD, University of Glasgow
Emeritus 6th-Century Professor, University of Aberdeen
Honorary Professor, Heriot-Watt University
Emeritus Davis Centennial Chair, Univesity of Texas, Austin

Courses Taught
N514: Shelf Margin Shallow Marine Deltaics to Deepwater Turbidites: Sedimentology and Sequence Stratigraphy (Wyoming, USA)
N520: Coastal, Deltaic and Shallow Marine Clastic Reservoir Characterisation

CEU: 1.6 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 16 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.