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Studies in Geology 56: Atlas of Deep-water Outcrops

Edited by Tor H. Nilsen, Robert D. Shew, Gary S. Steffens, and Joseph R. J. Studlick

Outcrops have long been the tool of the trade for geologists trying to better understand the architecture, facies, and evolution of deep-water depositional systems. Most importantly, outcrops serve as accessible examples of deep-water systems that can be studied at a range of scales as analogs for the buried but economically important deep-water systems that are the targets of modern hydrocarbon exploration. Today, seismic studies of the sea floor and underlying sediments along modern deep-water continental margins in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, the North Sea, West Africa, Indonesia, and other key areas paint rather detailed pictures of basin- to reservoir-scale architecture of deep-water systems.

Although one-dimensional cores and logs from these areas provide limited views of features at a fine scale, there remains a resolution gap that complicates predictions of deep-water lithofacies and heterogeneity at intrafield scales. General recognition of this gap catalyzed a flurry of academic and industry studies of deep-water outcrops beginning in the 1980s. These outcrop studies greatly enhance understanding of deep-water processes and deposits. However, selecting and applying the appropriate analog is still a critical issue in deep-water settings.

With no collection of new and/or classis outcrops in a compendium volume available for review and comparison to active deep-water plays, this publication was created to create a knowledge base accrued from the study of many of the world’s best deep-water outcrops.

This Atlas incorporates the descriptions of the outcrop geometries as well as the statistical data obtained from the detailed studies of more than 100 deep-water outcrops from around the world and includes examples ranging from Precambrian to Cenozoic age, collected from seven continents and various islands. The publication is a single-volume summary of the current knowledge of most of the major outcropping deep-water rock sequences that serve as today’s models and analogs for the subsurface targets of petroleum exploration around the world.

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