N020 Carbonate Depositional Systems: Reservoir Sedimentology and Diagenesis

Course Facts

Course Code:
5 days
4.0 Continuing Education Units
40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


Business Impact: Success depends on getting the basics right first time, and this course is designed to provide the frameworks for practitioners in the industry to develop new, and critically evaluate existing, geological models for carbonate reservoirs, based on the latest ideas and techniques. This enables meaningful assessments of risk and uncertainty to be made as well as the best decision making as regards well planning and reservoir modelling, all with clear business implications.

The course provides a thorough grounding in the concepts, terminology and models used to interpret, assess and predict carbonate reservoirs, assuming little prior knowledge. It will take the student from the seismic scale through to reservoir issues relating to dynamic simulations. Carbonate rocks are complex, but there are basic principles taught in the course that provide a framework for improving exploration success, and reducing the risk of inappropriate strategies being devised during appraisal and development of the reservoir.

Duration and Training Method

This is a five-day classroom course with a mixture of lectures and exercises. In some locations core examination is also possible. When the course is held in Cardiff there is a planned visit to nearby carbonate field localities for an afternoon, none of the localities are physically demanding and can be reached on short cliff top paths and beach environments by walking less than 2 km (1.25 miles). Participants on UK-based courses will be advised of any field clothing required.

Participants will learn to:

  1. Distinguish the principal carbonate sediment components, textures and systems of carbonate classification.
  2. Examine the primary controls on carbonate deposition temporally and spatially. Compare and contrast with siliciclastic deposition.
  3. Differentiate the main types of carbonate platform, their variability, scale and distribution of likely reservoir units.
  4. Demonstrate sequence stratigraphic aspects of carbonate build-ups, their differing response to sea level change compared to clastic sediments and discuss their seismic characters.
  5. Categorise the principal types of reservoir facies (platform interior, carbonate sands, reefs, slope systems and chalks), their recognition, architecture, sequence stratigraphy and porosity types.
  6. Differentiate the development of primary and secondary porosity through the combination of sedimentological, chemical and diagenetic processes.
  7. Compare and contrast carbonate pore systems and their reservoir characteristics with those developed in clastic sediments.
  8. Compare how the variety of diagenetic environments affect primary porosity in carbonate rocks and understand the implications for reservoir quality.
  9. Distinguish the principal modes of formation of dolomites and compare their reservoir properties with other carbonates.

Carbonate rocks contain over 40% of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves. Most earth science specialists have only had a rudimentary introduction to the topic at first degree level and there seems to be a mystique in the oil industry that carbonates are “too complicated”. The aim of this course is to provide an up-to-date introduction to practical carbonate sedimentology. Carbonate rocks are complex and there are many gaps in our understanding, but there are basic principles which provide a framework in which the complexity may be made understandable.

The course will commence with an examination of the principles of carbonate deposition and the factors that control the formation of carbonate systems. The main structure of the course falls into three parts with all aspects being firmly set in a sequence stratigraphic framework:

Part 1 outlines the seismic scale of carbonate systems. This will include a discussion of the types of carbonate platform, modern and ancient analogues, platform architecture, seismic recognition, play types and exercises.

Part 2 will summarise the reservoir scale of carbonates. The subjects covered will include all the key depositional systems including platform interiors, shoal belts, reefs, slopes and chalks. Criteria for recognition, key reservoir properties and common play associations will be distilled for each facies type. There will also be a discussions of key reservoir types for “reefs” such as rudists, Miocene buildups, buildups of late Paleozoic age. Reservoir case studies and exercises will be integrated into the classroom sessions. This section ends by studying sequence stratigraphic aspects and also drowned platforms.

Part 3 focuses on the origins of porosity, diagenetic environments, reservoir aspects, layering issues and techniques used to examine carbonate reservoirs. Two reservoir types are studied in detail – dolomite reservoirs, and palaeokarsts.


  1. An Introduction to Carbonate Systems
  2. Carbonate Sediment and Limestone Components
  3. Limestone Classification
  4. Carbonate Platforms
  5. Carbonate Shelves - Sequence Stratigraphy of Flat-topped Platforms
  6. Carbonate Ramps
  7. Carbonate, Evaporite and Siliciclastic Sediment Partitioning
  8. Platform Interior Carbonates
  9. Sandbodies on Platform Margins and Ramps
  10. Reefs
  11. Carbonate Slope Systems
  12. Pelagic Systems and Chalk Reservoirs
  13. Platfrom Drowning and Tethyan Carbonate-dominated Passive Margin of the Alps
  14. Facies Belts
  15. Introduction to Porosity in Carbonates
  16. Carbonate Porosity and Rock Fabrics
  17. Introduction to Diagenesis and Sequence Stratigraphy
  18. Upper Jurassic, Corallian Reefs of the Weald
  19. Porosity Development, Diagenesis and Diagenetic Environments
  20. Marine Diagenetic Environments - Western Canada Basin
  21. Meteoric Diagenesis
  22. Porosity Development During Burial Diagenesis
  23. Dolomites - Dolostones
  24. Palaeokarst and Karstic Porosity Systems
  25. Rudist-rich Formations
  26. Techniques
  27. Carbonates and Tectonics


Who should attend

The course is structured to appeal to all geoscientists who wish to broaden and deepen their knowledge of carbonate reservoirs. The course will provide an effective working knowledge of these systems for graduate and inexperienced staff, while providing further insights to more experienced participants who require a more detailed application to subsurface projects.

Prerequisites and linking courses

There are no prerequisites for this class, although an understanding of the basics of sedimentology is an advantage.

For those who wish to further expand their understanding of carbonate systems, there are a number of field classes available; N059 (Applied Carbonate Geology: Carbonate Facies and Reservoirs, Balearic Islands, Spain) examines Miocene ramps, reefs and associated facies. N494 (Controls on Carbonate Depositional Systems and Reservoir Characterisation (Oligo-Miocene - Apulia, Italy)) visits excellent outcrops of Upper Creataceous, Eocene, Oligocene and Miocene carbonates with varying dominant carbonate factories and platform morphologies. N091 (Carbonate Reservoir Architecture and Applied Carbonate Sequence Stratigraphy, New Mexico and West Texas) visits the Palaeozoic carbonate successions in the region and considers both exploration and production perspectives.

Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

Paul Wright

Related Subjects

"Very good case studies, seismic examples. The pros and cons were discussed elaborately which helped me to understand the uncertainties and potentials in carbonate reservoirs at the same time."