Jo Garland 1*, Colin Tiltman 2 and Callum Inglis 2

1 Cambridge Carbonates Ltd, PMJ House, Highlands Rd, Solihull, B90 4ND.

2 Spirit Energy, IQ Building, 15 Justice Mill Lane, Aberdeen, AB11 6EQ.

* correspondence:

This paper provides an updated understanding of the reservoir stratigraphy, sedimentology, palaeogeography and diagenesis of the Upper Permian Hauptdolomit Formation of the Zechstein Supergroup (“Hauptdolomit”) in a study area on the southern margin of the Mid North Sea High. The paper is based on the examination and description of core and cuttings data from 25 wells which were integrated with observations based on existing and new 3D seismic.

Based on thin-section petrography of cuttings and core from the wells studied, it is evident that Hauptdolomit microfacies are distributed in a relatively predictable way, and well-defined platform interior, platform margin, slope and basin settings can be distinguished. Platform margins are typically characterised by the development of ooid shoals and, to a lesser-extent, by microbial build-ups. High-energy back-shoal settings are characterised by a more complex combination of peloid grainstones, thrombolitic and microbial build-ups, and fine crystalline dolomites. Lower energy lagoons which developed further behind the platform margin are characterised by a variety of microfacies types; fine crystalline dolomites are common in this setting as well as peloidal facies and local microbial build-ups. Intertidal and supratidal settings are typified by increased proportions of anhydrite and the development of laminated microbial bindstones (stromatolites). Platform margins are in general relatively steep and pass into slope and basinal settings. Only a few wells have penetrated Hauptdolomit successions deposited in a slope setting, and these successions are characterised by a range of resedimented shallow-water facies together with low-energy laminated dolomicrites and fine crystalline dolomites. Slope zones in the study area are interpreted from seismic data to be typically 1-1.5 km in width. Basinal Hauptdolomit deposits have been strongly affected by post-depositional diagenesis and are dedolomitised to variable degrees. The original depositional facies are rarely preserved.

Diagenetic studies show that dolomitisation has affected almost the entire Hauptdolomit Formation throughout the study area in both basinal and platform settings. The dolomite is considered to result from seepage-reflux processes and is an early diagenetic phase. Mouldic porosity is present in many facies types as a result of dissolution, especially in ooid grainstones, thrombolitic build-ups and peloidal facies. The dissolution cannot be associated with any one diagenetic phase but was most likely a result of the dolomitisation process itself. Stable isotope analyses indicate that all dolomites were precipitated from Permian marine-derived pore fluids. Fluid inclusion analyses of dolomite cements indicate that cementation continued into the burial realm. Anhydrite cementation occurs in two phases: early anhydrite precipitation was associated with dolomitisation, and can be distinguished from a later, pore-filling cement which is highly detrimental to reservoir quality.

The Hauptdolomit succession in basinal wells (and in some slope wells) in the study area has undergone significant dedolomitisation. Dedolomitisation was a shallow burial process which affected precursor dolomites, whereby excess calcium from the transition of gypsum to anhydrite during burial combined with CO2 and organic acids derived from basinal sediments. The process was triggered by excess calcium reacting with excess carbonate ions from dissolution.

3D seismic volumes supplemented by numerous 2D lines were available in the study area and allowed an interpretation to be made of Hauptdolomit gross depositional settings; platform margins and base-of-slope polygons were mapped, with the greatest confidence in areas of 3D seismic. The basin, slope and platform settings were distinguished using seismic data integrated with the results of micro-facies analysis and incorporating seismic-to-well ties. The data shows that large parts of the study area are characterised by the presence of polyhalites within the overlying (Z2) Stassfurt Halite Formation, which may create particular seismic geometries at the Hauptdolomit slope. These are interpreted to be intra-Stassfurt Halite features, providing an alternative model to the thickened, prograded Hauptdolomit which has been suggested in previous publications.

Because few wells drilled in the study area had the Hauptdolomit as the primary target, cores were limited but significant data was obtained from cuttings analyses. More than 400 thin sections were evaluated, allowing depositional models based on microfacies observations to be developed, verifying the seismic-scale observations.

Key words: Hauptdolomit Formation, Mid North Sea High, Permian, Zechstein, dolomite, dedolomite, polyhalite, dolomite seismic response, seismic impedance, carbonate seismic geometry, reservoir prospectivity.

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