AAPG Bulletin, Vol.103, No.4, 797-833, 2019
Compositional variation in modern estuarine sands: Predicting major controls on sandstone reservoir quality
Primary depositional mineralogy has a major impact on sandstone reservoir quality. The spatial distribution of primary depositional mineralogy in sandstones is poorly understood, and consequently, empirical models typically fail to accurately predict reservoir quality. To address this challenge, we have determined the spatial distribution of detrital minerals (quartz, feldspar, carbonates, and clay minerals) in surface sediment throughout the Ravenglass Estuary, United Kingdom. We have produced, for the first time, high-resolution maps of detrital mineral quantities over an area that is similar to many oil and gas reservoirs. Spatial mineralogy patterns (based on x-ray diffraction data) and statistical analyses revealed that estuarine sediment composition is primarily controlled by provenance (i.e., the character of bedrock and sediment drift in the source area). The distributions of quartz, feldspar, carbonates, and day minerals are controlled by a combination of the grain size of specific minerals (e.g., rigid vs. brittle grains) and estuarine hydrodynamics. The abundance of quartz, feldspar, carbonates, and day minerals is predictable as a function of depositional environment and critical grain-size thresholds. This study may be used, by analogy, to better predict the spatial distribution of sandstone composition and thus reservoir quality in ancient and deeply buried estuarine sandstones.