D. Casabianca*#, D. Bosence** and D. Beckett+

*BP Amoco Exploration, Farburn Industrial Estate, Dyce, Aberdeen, AB21 7PB.

**Dept. of Geology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey,

TW20 0EX.

+BG Exploration and Production, 100 Thames Valley Park Drive, Reading RG6 1PT.

#author for correspondence:

In this paper, we report on the characteristics of sedimentary breccias derived from, and deposited adjacent to, the Cretaceous Maiella carbonate platform in central Italy. Previous work has interpreted the northern platform margin to have been inherited from Early Jurassic rifting, and to have remained tectonically passive throughout the Cretaceous. However, our field studies show that the platform margin was segmented by north-south oriented normal faults in the Late Cretaceous. Thick breccias composed of lithoclastic rudstones and floatstones were derived from the collapse of the shelf margin, and were deposited as rock avalanche and debris flow deposits in hangingwall depocentres.

Four breccia units (thicknesses 130m, 250m, 60m and 20m) were mapped and studied in detail. Clasts consist of shallow-water bioclastic limestones; textures vary within each breccia unit from rudstones in the bottom two-thirds to floatstones above. Vuggy, late stage dissolution porosity is present throughout each unit, and probably developed in a meteoric environment after Pliocene thrusting and exhumation. Much earlier diagenesis, associated with a Late Cretaceous shallow-marine to meteoric environment, generated the mouldic and intergranular porosity observed in the rudstones. The skeletal floatstones display biomouldic porosity which has likewise been preserved since the Late Cretaceous.

Bulk porosity volumes have been estimated for three of the breccias at the time of expected hydrocarbon charge (Miocene-Pliocene): they range between 72 x 106 and 42 x 106 m3. Oil seepage from these breccias can be observed at the present day in outcrops near to the study area, indicating that migration and charge are still active.

The significance of the breccias as potential reservoirs is that high-porosity platform margin facies clasts were transported into a depositional environment which would otherwise have been occupied by low-porosity slope facies. This extends the platform margin reservoir fairway beyond the defined platform edge.

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