Architectural and facies organization of slope channel fills: Upper Cretaceous Rosario Formation, Baja California, Mexico

Pan Li, Benjamin Charles Kneller, Philip Thompson, Guilherme Bozetti, Thisiane Dos Santos

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20 Citations (Scopus)
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Slope channel systems, well-known for their significance in hydrocarbon exploration and sediment transport and deposition in deep-water settings, are inherently complicated in the rock record. To unravel the complexity, a better understanding of their internal organisation is needed. Here an integrated qualitative and quantitative examination of internal architecture and vertical facies successions is reported from the San Fernando slope channel system of the Rosario Formation (Maastrichtian), Baja California, Mexico. The San Fernando system (ca. 7 to 9 km wide, 400 m thick) comprises four channel complex sets (CCSs), of which this study focuses on the best exposedCCS-B.
Geologic mapping and photomosaic interpretation indicate that CCS-B features an erosionsurface-bounded and coarse-grained lower succession that records braid-like channel fills at the channel belt axis. The overlying upper succession is characterised by fine-grained overbank or passive channel fills intercalated with conglomeratic sinuous channel fills at the channel belt axis. By contrast, fine-grained overbank deposits and a capping hemipelagic interval (abandonment) dominate the upper succession at the channel belt off-axis to margin. Visual inspection of the measured sections from CCS-B suggests multiple fining-upward packages, which are partly confirmed by stochastic analysis of vertical facies transitions using the Markov chain technique. This technique also quantitatively demonstrates that distinct preferred vertical facies transitions characterise different stratigraphic levels (lower succession vs. upper succession), and varying depositional environments (axis vs. off-axis to margin)
within the channel belt of CCS-B.
The results of this study merit close consideration as analogues to submarine channel systems characterised by a lower braided pattern and/or an upper meandering pattern, and should find wide applicability in subsurface prediction of reservoirs, in other outcrop-based studies, and in constraining transition probability-based stochastic geological modeling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-649
Number of pages18
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Early online date28 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

This work comprised part of PL’s PhD study, which was funded by the China Scholarship Council (CSC), and a research consortium including BG Group, BP, DONG, RWE Dea, Petrochina, Statoil and Tullow Oil. The authors thank all the many people associated with the deepwater research group at the University of Aberdeen, for their contributions to the mapping, description and interpretation of the study area, which provide the basis for this manuscript. Coding of the sedimentary logs and Markov chain analysis of coded logs were carried out respectively using the Matlab code ( of Peter Burgess, and by the program phpSediStat (
of Staňová Sidónia, Soták Ján and Hudec Norbert. We thank the reviewers …….. and ……. for their helpful and constructive comments.


  • Turbidite
  • Slope channel
  • Architecture organization
  • Vertical facies trend
  • Deep-water outcrop analogue


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