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Reservoir Architecture of Deep Water Systems (California, USA)

Course Code: N442
Instructors:  Vitor Abreu
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
5 days

Next Event

Location: California, USA
Date:  24 - 28 Oct. 2022
Start Time: 09:00 PDT
Event Code: N442a22F
Fee From: USD $9,130 (exc. Tax)


Submarine canyons and deep water channels are the primary conduits for the transfer of coarse sediments from the shelf to deep water fans and are major exploration targets. The evolution of southern California included many episodes of deep water sedimentation in settings ranging from a Paleozoic cratonic passive margin to Mesozoic forearc and arc settings to Cenozoic transform, pull-apart, and continental borderland basins. This course will examine six deep water systems in which large and small submarine channels and fans played major roles as sediment transport routes and sites of sedimentation.

Participants will also learn to describe cores, integrate core and well-log information with seismic to generate high-resolution environment of deposition maps of reservoirs in different settings. Engineering data are used to demonstrate how to improve prediction of reservoir performance. Cores, well-logs and seismic examples are compared to and contrasted with outcrops to help participants to extrapolate 2-D outcrop information to 3-D views of reservoir scale depositional systems.


Event Code: N442a22F
Duration: 5 days
Instructors: Vitor Abreu
Dates: 24 - 28 Oct. 2022
Start Time: 09:00 PDT
Location: California, USA
Fee From
USD $9,130 (exc. Tax)
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Duration and Training Method

This is a field course, supported by classroom sessions in a 80:20 ratio. Exercises in the field will focus on description of deep water lithofacies, stratal geometries and recognizing key stratigraphic surfaces, emphasizing practical applications.

Course Overview

 Participants will learn to;
  1. Assess sedimentological processes of deep water deposition and erosion and their impact on reservoir architecture.
  2. Interpret cores, well logs and outcrops using appropriate deep water lithofacies nomenclature and definitions.
  3. Describe deep water lithofacies in cores and relate them to stratal geometries.
  4. Interpret key stratigraphic surfaces based on changes in lithofacies stacking and associations.
  5. Interpret deep water environments of deposition based on lithofacies associations, stacking and diversity.
  6. Use outcrop analogues and depositional models to better understand 3-D distribution of reservoir facies.
  7. Tie rock properties to facies in building geologic models.
  8. Perform environment of deposition mapping, emphasizing impact on reservoir performance and behavior.
  9. Evaluate core, well-logs and seismic data to describe the reservoir in 3 dimensions. 
Submarine canyons and deep-water channels are the primary conduits for the transfer of coarse sediments from the shelf to deep-water fans and they are today major targets for petroleum exploration. Southern California has had a long and complex geologic history that has involved many episodes of deep-water sedimentation in a variety of settings ranging from the Paleozoic passive margin of the North American craton to Mesozoic forearc and arc settings to Cenozoic transform, pull-apart, and continental borderland basins. These settings feature deep-water deposits in which both large and small submarine channels and fans played major roles as sediment transport routes and sites of sedimentation.

Six deep water systems will be examined in this field course. These include in the order that we will examine them: (1) Miocene-Pliocene Capistrano Formation at San Clemente State Beach, (2) Capistrano and Monterey sediments cropping out at Dana Point Harbor, (3) Cretaceous strata in coastal exposures in La Jolla, (4) Eocene strata in sea cliffs north of Scripps Institute of Oceanography, (5) Point Loma and Cabrillo Formations in the Tourmaline Surfing Beach and (6) Cretaceous Point Loma Formation exposed at the Point Loma Peninsula.

Course activity will include:

  • Review of deep water lithofacies nomenclature and definitions, common lithofacies associations, and interpret lithofacies in outcrops and cores
  • Interpretation of EoD’s and related reservoir architecture, lithofacies associations, and diversity
  • Interpretation of sequence stratigraphic surfaces in outcrop, logs, and seismic in deep water settings and related to vertical stacking of facies
  • Use of core and well-logs to interpret EoD’s
  • Evaluation of reservoir geometry and connectivity in different EoD’s
  • The do’s and don’ts of using outcrops as reservoir analogs
  • Use of outcrop information as analog for reservoir model building
  • Evaluating seismic response, including geometry, facies, and acoustic response in deep water EoD’s
  • Recognizing criteria for the identification of composite sequences, sequence sets, and depositional sequences and their components in outcrops, cores, well logs, and seismic
  • Interpretation and mapping techniques for cores, well-logs, and seismic lines in deep water settings, from exploration to production business scales
  • Recognition criteria and mapping strategies for play elements in deep water depositional settings
  • Play fairway identification and mapping


  • Day 0
    • Arrive at San Diego
    • Late afternoon classroom session: field course introduction, safety presentation, deepwater lithofacies and depositional models
    • Overnight Carlsbad Beach
  • Day 1
    • 8 AM classroom session: discussion on deepwater channel systems, safety briefing
    • 9 AM depart for field: spend the day at the San Clemente sea cliffs
    • Overnight Carlsbad Beach
  • Day 2
    • Check out from the hotel
    • 8:30 AM depart for field: spend the morning and part of the afternoon at Dana Point Harbor outcrops and mid-afternoon at Scripps Park outcrops (San Diego)
    • Overnight in La Jolla Torrey Pines
  •  Day 3
    • 8 AM classroom session on deepwater channel systems, safety briefing
    • 9:30 AM depart for field: Blacks Beach sea cliffs
    • Overnight La Jolla
  • Day 4
    • 8 AM classroom session on deepwater distributive systems, safety briefing
    • 9:30 AM depart for field: Point Loma sea cliffs
    • Overnight La Jolla
  •  Day 5
    • Check out from the hotel
    • 8:30 AM depart for field: morning at Tourmaline Beach
    • Late afternoon flights home

Geologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists and reservoir engineers working on deepwater reservoirs from exploration to production. The course is also suitable for managers seeking an understanding of these reservoirs.

Vitor Abreu

Vitor Abreu has 28 years of experience in the oil industry in petroleum exploration, development production and research, with a proven record in evaluating, risking and/or drilling in 22 countries and 31 sedimentary basins in the 6 continents. His areas of expertise include projects in exploration, development and production of deep water reservoirs, regional studies to define the petroleum system elements and key plays in frontier exploration, tectono-stratigraphic evolution of basins in different tectonic settings, maturing opportunities to drillable status, and play to prospect risking assessment. His experience in development and production includes several field studies in different depositional environments, with high-resolution stratigraphic interpretation integrated to engineering data to define reservoir connectivity and main baffles and barriers for effective field development plans. On research, Vitor is considered one of the world leaders on reservoir characterization of deep water systems, proposing new deep water models with strong impact in development and production.

Vitor has been an Adjunct Professor at Rice University since 1999, where he took responsibility for the course on Sequence Stratigraphy after Peter Vail’s retirement. He was the recipient of the Jules Braunstein Memorial Award (best poster presenta-tion, 2002 AAPG Annual Meeting) and was appointed AAPG’s inaugural international Distinguished Instructor in 2006. He is the current President-Elect of SEPM and has been organizing and chairing technical sessions at annual meetings for both AAPG and SEPM. More than 1000 students globally have taken his short course on “Sequence Stratigraphy for Graduate Students” since 2000. This course has been taught at annual meetings, international meetings, universities, and companies around the world. Vitor is the chief editor of SEPM’s “Sequence Stratigraphy of Siliciclastic Systems”, which has sold more than 3000 copies since publication in 2010.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD Rice University - Geology & Geophysics
MSc Federal University of Rio Grande - Geology
BA Federal University of Rio Grande - Geology

Courses Taught

N410: Sequence Stratigraphy Applied to Exploration and Production
N442: Reservoir Architecture of Deep Water Systems (California, USA)
N468: Deep Water Reservoirs – Exploration Risking and Development Characterisation (Distance Learning)
N517: Well Log Sequence Stratigraphy for Exploration and Production (Distance Learning)
N518: Seismic Sequence Stratigraphy for Exploration and Production (Distance Learning)
N526: Sequence Stratigraphic Controls on Deep-Water Reservoirs Architecture: Brushy Canyon Formation,Permian Basin (West Texas and New Mexico, USA)

CEU: 4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 40 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.