Spatiotemporal relationships of deep-marine, axial, and transverse depositional systems fromthe synrift Upper Jurassic of the central North Sea

Adam D. McArthur, Adrian J. Hartley, Stuart G. Archer, David W. Jolley, Hugo M. Lawrence

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Distinguishing axial and lateral sedimentary systems in rift basins is crucial for predicting reservoir distribution and quality, particularly where synrift strata are interrupted by mass transport complexes (MTCs). Upper Jurassic deep-marine synrift successions in the central North Sea have been studied to assess the temporal and spatial relationships of sediments and controls on reservoir quality. In the Late Jurassic, the central graben experienced erosion at rift margins, whereas adjacent grabens were starved and underfilled with marine sediments, supplied by axial and transverse systems. This study focused on sediments adjacent to a major intrabasinal high, the Josephine ridge. Data included seismic, wireline logs from 16 wells, and biostratigraphic and sedimentological analysis of 144 m (472 ft) of core. Synrift strata are dominated by mudstones but includeMTCs interbedded with coarse sandstones at the rift margin and fine-grained turbidite sandstones in basinal depocenters. Petrographic and heavymineral data indicate different provenance between MTCs and basinal turbidites. Turbidites correlate with periods of lowered relative sea level, during the initial rift phase, and record axial sediment supply. The composition of theMTCs corresponds to in situ strata on the adjacent Jade and Judy horsts. The distribution of MTCs implies formation by crestal collapse horsts during the rift climax and represents a transverse system, with no genetic relationship to axial turbidites. In starved deep-marine basins, fine-grained, well-sorted axial systems may provide the most extensive reservoirs. Transverse systems derived from isolated horsts are typically coarse-grained, poorly sorted, and spatially restricted, being unlikely to provide significant reservoir material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1469-1500
Number of pages32
JournalAAPG Bulletin
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

Bibliographical note

We thank ConocoPhillips (U.K.) Limited for providing the study data and financial support, along with coventures in the study area BG Group, ENI UK Ltd., Chevron, and OMV UK Ltd. for permission to release data. Andrew Morton, Ben Kilhams, and Andrew Hurst are thanked for discussions during this project. Christopher Jackson’s review greatly improved the final manuscript.


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