Three-dimensional (3D) seismic-reflection surveys provide one of the most important data types for understanding subsurface depositional systems. Quantitative analysis is commonly restricted to geophysical interpretation of elastic properties of rocks in the subsurface.
Wide availability of 3D seismic-reflection data and integration provide opportunities for quantitative analysis of subsurface stratigraphic sequences. Here, we integrate traditional seismic-stratigraphic interpretation with quantitative geomorphologic analysis and numerical modeling to explore new insights into submarine-channel evolution.
1) We show that submarine-channel patterns in a range of basin settings qualitatively resemble meandering rivers. 2) We mapped submarine-channel centerlines to reconstruct system migration at a level of detail similar to that of geomorphologic studies of rivers. Our results show that submarine channels migrate like freely meandering rivers unless confined by salt structures or other obstructions. 3) This result is confirmed by a simple numerical model of meandering, called meanderpy. 4) A potential consequence of submarine-channel meandering is a progressive increase in sinuosity, which decreases the channel thalweg slope through time.
We evaluate the dynamic connectivity of these process-based 3D stratigraphic models using the MATLAB Reservoir Simulation Toolbox. The process-based models yield distinctively different flow behavior compared to a model that does not account for systematic submarine-channel meandering.