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Oil and Gas | Clastics

Turbidite Facies Architecture, Reservoir Applications and Predictive Stratigraphy (Karoo, South Africa)

Course Code: N107
Instructors:  David HodgsonDe Ville Wickens
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
5 days

Next Event

Location: Karoo, South Africa
Date:  14 - 18 Oct. 2024
Start Time: 09:00
Event Code: N107a24F
Fee From: GBP £8,720 (exc. Tax)


This field course demonstrates the down-fan evolution from net-bypass to net-deposition, confined to unconfined transport and deposition, and the development and distribution of depositional elements such as channels, lobes, and levee/overbank deposits. It further integrates the different scales of observation, namely the basin scale (exploration/seismic) and production scale (facies distribution, stacking patterns, bed-scale stratigraphy, and hierarchy of architectural elements) within distributive deep-water systems.  

Business impact: Participants on this field class will examine the links between depositional processes, facies distribution, reservoir architecture, and stratigraphic evolution of deep-water fan complexes. The Tanqua sub-basin of the western Karoo Basin offers world-class exposures where minimal vegetation and variable outcrop orientation enable virtually all areas of a fan system and the architecture of stacked fans to be examined in a 3D sense.


Very good overview of the basin floor to slope fan complexes up to the deltaic systems - the depositional processes and the architecture.


Event Code: N107a24F
Duration: 5 days
Instructors: David Hodgson, De Ville Wickens
Dates: 14 - 18 Oct. 2024
Start Time: 09:00
Location: Karoo, South Africa
Fee From
GBP £8,720 (exc. Tax)
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Duration and Training Method

A field course visiting the Tanqua sub-basin of the western Karoo, South Africa. Field exercises include delineation and interpretation of depositional elements on photo panels of cliff exposures and measuring and correlation of vertical sections; developing a sense for scale, i.e. from seismic to core and log scale, and an understanding of vertical stacking patterns and architectural style of depositional elements form part of creating a depositional framework for deep-water sedimentation. Participants are encouraged to bring some of their own data for further discussion.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Appraise the depositional processes and products of fine-grained, basin floor to slope turbidite systems at various scales.
  2. Predict the development and distribution of facies and facies associations of deep-water fan systems in slope through basin floor settings.
  3. Evaluate the architectural styles of different channel types, channel complexes and complex sets in basin floor, base-of-slope, and lower slope settings, as well as their association with frontal splay and levee/overbank deposition.
  4. Evaluate the significance of linked debrite deposits in the palaeogeographic reconstruction of deep-water deposits.
  5. Compose depositional models illustrating reservoir architecture and quality in highly confined to unconfined depositional settings and predict flow barriers and baffles related to different orders of depositional cyclicity.
  6. Predict the vertical and lateral stacking patterns and internal architecture of sheet sandstones as related to relict depositional topography and volume of flows.
  7. Evaluate the significance of fan pinch-out lithologies in terms of reservoir potential and sealing aspects.
  8. Assess mechanisms of fan evolution in terms of high-frequency sandy growth phases, periods of starvation and its bearing on the distribution of reservoir and non-reservoir facies.
  9. Evaluate the influences of basin floor and slope topography on facies distribution.
  10. Integrate different scales of observation including basin/exploration scale (sequence expression on the basin floor and sequence stacking) and development/ production scale (facies distribution, stacking patterns, bed-scale stratigraphy and hierarchy of architectural elements) within distributive deep-water systems.


The key points to be addressed in studying the western Karoo deep-water deposits include:

  • Comparison of unconfined versus confined fan deposition.
  • Sequence stratigraphic concepts in deep-water systems, including relative base-level controls on sediment supply to the basin, depositional signature of superimposed high-frequency and low- frequency cyclicity, and prediction of flow barriers related to different orders of depositional cyclicity.
  • Channel types and their evolution down-fan from erosional/bypass to erosional/depositional to depositional/pinch-out at the far basinward limit. Differences between channel-fills in basin floor, base of slope and lower slope settings and their relationship to overbank development.
  • Sheet sandstones and differentiation between distal (down-fan) and lateral (overbank/interchannel) types.
  • Stratigraphic significance in fan pinch-out areas in terms of facies characteristics, reservoir potential and sealing issues.
  • Mechanisms of fan growth in terms of high-frequency sandy growth phases, separated by fan-wide starvation zones (‘flooding surfaces’).
  • Development of a model for lithology and reservoir quality prediction in fans deposited on a simple (unconfined?) basin floor.
  • The opportunity to see the stratigraphic fill for the Tanqua sub-basin from the basin floor and deep-water fans, through the slope and shelf margin to shallow marine and fluvial systems. The deep-water elements form the focus of the course itinerary.

Approximate Itinerary

Day 0 - Arrival in Cape Town

Day 1

  • Breakfast meeting - summary of course itinerary, logistics, and HSSE briefing.
  • Travel from Cape Town to Inverdoorn Game Reserve. Drive through Cape Fold Belt region via scenic Bains Kloof Pass.
  • Course introductory talk before dinner.
  • Overnight - Inverdoorn

Day 2

  • Stop 1: Ongeluks River channel complex, base-of-slope setting, most proximal outcrops of Fan 3. Prediction of facies down-dip and marginally away from the channel complex. Team exercise on photo panels prior to investigating the outcrops.
  • Stop 2: Kleine Rietfontein. Large-scale architectural styles of Fans 1, 2 and 3, channel fills within Fan 4, thin-bedded overbank facies, associated crevasse channel fills. Comparison of Fan 3 facies assemblage with Ongeluks River section. Prediction of facies towards the fan axis of Fan 3.
  • Stop 3: Kanaalkop channel-fill. Channel-fill/overbank relationship in Fan 3. Internal facies and reservoir characteristics of Fan 2.
  • Overnight Inverdoorn

Day 3

  • Stop 4: Los Kop. Pinch out characteristics of Fan 2. Architectural styles and lateral changes from axis to off-axis of transitional elements (broad “channel-fills”) near fan axis of Fan 3. Team exercise on photo panels.
  • Stops 5-7: Fan 3 eastern margin and Fan 4. Sedimentary characteristics and internal architecture of sheet-like lobes complexes, interfan sections, reservoir implications.
  • Overnight Inverdoorn

Day 4

  • Stop 8: Klipfontein area. Group climbs through Fans 3, 4 and 5 and through the slope succession above Fan 5 (optional) i.e. experiencing a complete exposure from basin floor to shoreface.
  • Examine depositional characteristics and architectural style of Fan 3 (distal pinch-out area), Fan 4 (mid- outer fan sheets and transitional elements), and Fan 5 (base-of-slope, high aspect ratio channelised).
  • Transition to prodelta/delta front deposits overlying Fan 5.
  • Overnight Inverdoorn

Day 5

  • Stop 9: Groot Hangklip, Kleine Hangklip: Fan 5 slope channels overlain by shelf-edge deltas, and abrupt oblique up-dip pinchout of Fans 3 and 4. Lower slope channel complexes and interchannel slope deposition. Architectural style of laterally and vertically stacked channel-fills exposed in dip and strike sections. Team exercise on photo panel interpretation to focus on channel architecture and stacking patterns.
  • Stop 10: Blaukop, Juxtaposition of channels and lobes, and comparison to basin-floor lobe architecture
  • Depart from the field. Travel N1 via Hex River Valley and Worcester to Cape Town for return flights.

Geoscientists actively involved in exploration and development in deep-water clastic systems. This class will appeal to those working in a range of disciplines, including geologists, geophysicists, quantitative seismic interpreters, and reservoir engineers.

David Hodgson

Dave is Professor of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy at the University of Leeds, UK. Members of Dave’s research group, the Stratigraphy Group, are investigating the stratigraphic and sedimentological record of a wide range of depositional environments using outcrop and subsurface datasets, and modern systems. Dave is also Director of the Sorby Environmental Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Leeds.

After completing his PhD at UCL in 2001, Dave moved to the University of Liverpool, and started his field investigations in the Karoo Basin, South Africa. Subsequently, he spent 10 years at the University of Liverpool, before joining the School of Earth & Environment at the University of Leeds in 2012. Dave has co-led the Slope and Lobe Joint Industry Programmes for 20 years, with a focus on the Karoo Basin, complemented by field studies in Argentina, Mexico, and Spain.

Dave’s research focus is the stratigraphic record of sedimentary basins. A principal research area is the characterization of sedimentary processes and depositional architecture of submarine channel-levee and lobe systems. A second research focus lies in advancing the role of geosciences in the development of offshore windfarms.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD UCL - sedimentation patterns during late Miocene tectonic deformation of the Tabernas-Sorbas Basin, SE Spain.
B.Sc. (Hons) University of Liverpool - in Geology and Physical Geography

Courses Taught
N107: Turbidite Facies Architecture, Reservoir Applications and Predictive Stratigraphy (Karoo, South Africa)
N574: Submarine Fan Architecture from the Upper Slope to the Distal Basin Floor: Implications for Reservoir Distribution and Development (Southwestern Karoo Basin, South Africa)

De Ville Wickens

De Ville works as a Consulting Geologist for Geo-Routes Petroleum, for which he regularly leads field trips for both industry and academia. De Ville’s training has been in sedimentary geology with specialization in deep-water deposits. He is a highly experienced field geologist with a strong background in petroleum exploration, teaching and academic research.

Following the completion of his BSc Honours degree in Geology at the University of Stellenbosch, De Ville started his career with the Geological Survey of South Africa (now Council for Geoscience) in 1976 as a field geologist, primarily responsible for regional mapping. After 12 years with the Geological Survey, during which time he also received his MSc degree from the University of Port Elizabeth, he took up a newly created post as specialist sedimentologist with the state petroleum exploration company, SOEKOR (now PetroSA), in 1987. As specialist, his work involved close cooperation with all disciplines related to the exploration for oil and gas in the offshore along the West and South coast of South Africa. The discovery of oil in turbidite reservoirs in offshore Bredasdorp Basin led to an extensive land-based research program on the deep-water fan complexes of the southwestern Karoo Basin, initially in collaboration with Arnold Bouma of Louisiana State University and later with the Strat Group of the University of Liverpool.

De Ville’s interest in the deltaic and deep-water systems of the Permian Karoo Basin led to a PhD via the University of Port Elizabeth in 1994. He left SOEKOR in 1996 where after he continued to serve the national and international petroleum industry as consultant, mainly via field research and training in the form of field seminars. After 3 years of consultancy for all the major oil and gas companies of the world, he joined the Department of Geology at the University of Stellenbosch as a senior lecturer in sedimentary geology, a position initiated and supported by the local petroleum industry. Apart from a full under- and post-graduate programme, he continued leading and co-leading numerous field seminars in which more than a thousand geoscientists have been involved up to now. De Ville took early retirement from Stellenbosch at the end of 2007 to focus on and to broaden his consultation business.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Port Elizabeth
MSc University of Port Elizabeth
BSc University of Stellenbosch - Geology, Honours
AAPG - Active Member
Geological Society of South Africa - Member

Courses Taught
N107: Turbidite Facies Architecture, Reservoir Applications and Predictive Stratigraphy (Karoo, South Africa)
N574: Submarine Fan Architecture from the Upper Slope to the Distal Basin Floor: Implications for Reservoir Distribution and Development (Southwestern Karoo Basin, South Africa)

CEU: 4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
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