Publication Date

Fall 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. M. Royhan Gani (Director), Dr. Frederick Siewers, and Dr. Jason Polk

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


This study investigates Mio-Pliocene mass-transport deposits (MTDs) in an understudied, hydrocarbon-rich region of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The research utilizes a high-quality 3D seismic dataset with an area of 635 km2, along with wireline logs and biostratigraphic data. With the help of quantitative seismic geomorphology techniques, detailed mapping of MTDs suggests a complex erosional and depositional history. Deposition of a MTD unit resulted in a 180 m topographic high that substantially influenced the distribution and morphology of subsequent MTDs, specifically the bifurcation of later mass-transport flows. This bifurcation contributed to the generation of a non-shielded erosional remnant with an area of 65 km2. Depositional elements of the remnant strata are interpreted to be sediment waves. Instantaneous frequency attribute maps of the erosional remnant suggest a different lithology than the surrounding muddy MTDs; and, thus, the remnant unit is interpreted to be sandy. For the first time in literature, this research documented intra-MTD channel and lobe features. The development of a sinuous channel system encased within MTD gives new insights into mass-transport processes. This provides evidence for considering MTD as amalgamation deposits of multiple and different-type of flow events (e.g., turbidity currents and debris flows), rather than a singular event-deposit.

The channel, lobe, and erosional remnant features examined in this research demonstrate reservoir-prone facies encased within MTD units, forming stratigraphic traps directly associated with mass-transport phenomena. This research contributes to the understanding of seal vs. reservoir rock development and distribution in the study area, as well as presents new developments into mass-transport deposit flow processes and their resulting morphologies.


Earth Sciences | Geology | Sedimentology | Stratigraphy