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Sedimentology (2015) 62, 350388

doi: 10.1111/sed.12153

Clinoform geometry, geomorphology, facies character and


stratigraphic architecture of a sand-rich subaqueous delta:
Jurassic Sognefjord Formation, offshore Norway
S T E F A N O P A T R U N O * 1 , G A R Y J . H A M P S O N * , C H R I S T O P H E R A . - L . J A C K S O N * and
TOM DREYER
*Basins Research Group (BRG), Department of Earth Science & Engineering, Imperial College, London
SW7 2BP, UK (E-mail: stefano.patruno@gmail.com)
Statoil UK Ltd., 1 Kingdom St, London W2 6BD, UK
Associate Editor J. P. Walsh
ABSTRACT

The integration of core sedimentology, seismic stratigraphy and seismic geomorphology has enabled interpretation of delta-scale (i.e. tens of metres high)
subaqueous clinoforms in the upper Jurassic Sognefjord Formation of the
Troll Field. Mud-prone subaqueous deltas characterized by a compound
clinoform morphology and sandy delta-scale subaqueous clinoforms are common in recent tide-influenced, wave-influenced and current-influenced settings, but ancient examples are virtually unknown. The data presented help
to fully comprehend the criteria for the recognition of other ancient deltascale subaqueous clinoforms, as well as refining the depositional model of the
reservoir in the super-giant Troll hydrocarbon field. Two 10 to 60 m thick,
overall coarsening-upward packages are distinguished in the lower Sognefjord
Formation. Progressively higher energy, wave-dominated or current-dominated facies occur from the base to the top of each package. Each package corresponds to a set of seismically resolved, westerly dipping clinoforms, the
bounding surfaces of which form the seismic envelope of a clinoform set and
the major marine flooding surfaces recognized in cores. The packages thicken
westwards, until they reach a maximum where the clinoform envelope rolls
over to define a topsetforesettoeset geometry. All clinoforms are consistently oriented sub-parallel to the edge of the Horda Platform (N005N030). In
the eastern half of the field, individual foresets are relatively gently dipping
(1 to 6) and bound thin (10 to 30 m) clinothems. Core data indicate that
these proximal clinothems are dominated by fine-grained, hummocky crossstratified sandstones. Towards the west, clinoforms gradually become steeper
(5 to 14) and bound thicker (15 to 60 m) clinothems that comprise mediumgrained, cross-bedded sandstones. Topsets are consistently well-developed,
except in the westernmost area. No seismic or sedimentological evidence of
subaerial exposure is observed. Deposition created fully subaqueous, near-linear clinoforms that prograded westwards across the Horda Platform. Subaqueous clinoforms were probably fed by a river outlet in the north-east and
sculpted by the action of currents sub-parallel to the clinoform strike.
Keywords Clinoforms, Compound clinoform, infralittoral prograding
wedge, seismic geomorphology, Sognefjord Formation, subaqueous clinoforms, subaqueous delta, Troll Field.
1

Present address: Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS), 4 The Heights, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0NY, UK

350

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and
distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta


INTRODUCTION
Clinoforms are inclined stratal surfaces (Rich,
1951) that occur over various spatial scales,
ranging from delta-front foresets that are up to
tens of metres in height (e.g. Gilbert, 1885) to
continental margin slopes that are thousands of
metres in height (e.g. Steel & Olsen, 2002). One
or two breaks in slope (rollover points) separate
low-gradient topsets and bottomsets from a
steeper foreset zone (e.g. Sangree & Widmier,
1977; Pirmez et al., 1998; Adams & Schlager,
2000). Clinothem geometry and stacking patterns
determine the overall stratigraphic architecture
(e.g. Mitchum et al., 1977) and can reveal
important quantitative information about the
tectono-stratigraphic evolution of the depositional system, including rates of progradation,
aggradation and sediment flux and the related
facies distribution (Patruno et al., 2014).
Modern deltas subject to high sediment supply in high-energy marine settings frequently
exhibit a subaerial clinoform (coastal plain
delta) and a subaqueous clinoform (subaqueous
delta) which are separated by a subaqueous platform (Fig. 1A). The internal architectures of subaqueous clinoforms can be correlated with the
growth phases of their subaerial counterparts
(e.g. Cattaneo et al., 2003; Fern
andez-Salas
et al., 2009; Walsh & Nittrouer, 2009). This geometrical and genetic configuration has been
termed a delta-scale compound clinoform (e.g.
Pirmez et al., 1998; Driscoll & Karner, 1999;
Swenson et al., 2005).
Recent sand-prone and mud-prone delta-scale
compound clinoforms share several common
features (Fig. 1B and C). Unlike shelf-edge clinoforms, they are characterized by a vertical relief
of <100 m, and usually range between 10 m
and 50 m (Helland-Hansen & Hampson, 2009).
Typically, delta-scale subaqueous clinoforms are
laterally extensive in plan-view, accrete basinwards and are parallel to the shoreline. These
clinoforms form dominantly progradational
wedges and downlap onto an underlying flooding surface; they have been deposited during relative sea-level stillstands on inner submarine
shelves, between fair-weather wave base and
storm-wave base (cf. infralittoral prograding
wedges, sensu Hern
andez-Molina et al., 2000).
In a delta-scale compound clinoform, the
clinoform rollover of the subaerial delta lies in
proximity to the shoreline break, such that the
topset is composed of subaerial, coastal plain

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deposits that are prone to erosion (e.g. Ta et al.,


2002; Correggiari et al., 2005). In contrast, the
topsetforeset rollover of the subaqueous clinoform is situated at various distances from the
shoreline, in water depths ranging from 5 m to
the shelf break (Pirmez et al., 1998; Swenson
et al., 2005) and has a greater preservation
potential than shoreline deposits (FernandezSalas et al., 2009).
Both sandy and muddy delta-scale subaqueous clinoforms are formed by the combined
action of alongshore currents, storm-driven bottom currents, and possibly tidal, upwelling or
geostrophic currents further offshore (Driscoll &
Karner, 1999; Cattaneo et al., 2003, 2007; Liu
et al., 2007; Mitchell et al., 2012; Fig. 1B and
C). High wave-current shear stress in shoreface
environments ensures that topsets of subaqueous
clinoforms are regions of dominant sediment
bypass through lateral advection, erosion and
redistribution (Cattaneo et al., 2007). Preferential
time-averaged sediment deposition occurs just
seawards of the rollover point, where wave-driven and current-driven, near-bed shear stresses
decline below the threshold of sediment motion,
resulting in net clinoform growth by sequential
deposition along the foresets (Field & Roy, 1984;
Pickrill, 1983; Hernandez-Molina et al., 2000;
Walsh et al., 2004; Mitchell, 2012). Foreset areas
are therefore characterized by maximum
accumulation rates (Pickrill, 1983; Kuehl et al.,
1986; Alexander et al., 1991; Pirmez et al., 1998;
Driscoll & Karner, 1999; Friedrichs & Wright,
2004, Mitchell et al., 2012).
Examples of Holocene mud-rich compound
clinoform systems are those sourced by major rivers, such as the Amazon (Kuehl et al., 1986; Nittrouer et al., 1986), Ganges-Brahmaputra (Kuehl
et al., 1997, 2005; Michels et al., 1998), Huanghe
(Bornhold et al., 1986; Alexander et al., 1991),
Yangtze (Hori et al., 2001; Liu et al., 2006, 2007)
and Fly River Delta (Walsh et al., 2004). Smaller
scale compound clinoform systems are found offshore of several Mediterranean deltas, such as the
Tiber and Po and adjoining shelves (Amorosi &
Milli, 2001; Cattaneo et al., 2003, 2007; Labaune
et al., 2005), and have even been described from
very shallow water settings in the Gulf of Mexico
(Neill & Allison, 2005). Muddy subaqueous clinoforms exhibit a sigmoidal geometry with a broad
topset, which is typically situated below fairweather wave base (e.g. Kuehl et al., 1997; Walsh
et al., 2004; Liu et al., 2007). Sediment transport
is dominated by strong alongshore hydrodynamic
advection resulting from high-energy geostrophic

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

352

S. Patruno et al.

Fig. 1. (A) Facies and geometrical characteristics of a deltaic compound clinoform system in shoreline-normal
cross-section (modified after Cattaneo et al., 2007 and Helland-Hansen & Hampson, 2009). (B) Three-dimensional
sketch illustrating an advection-dominated subaqueous clinoform on the shelf, characterized by a shore-parallel
geometry (modified after Cattaneo et al., 2007). These clinoforms are assumed to form below fair-weather wave
base by the combined action of shore-parallel, downwelling and upwelling currents. (C) Two-dimensional
cross-section showing Holocene sand-prone delta-scale subaqueous clinoforms, offshore southern Iberia (Hern
andez-Molina et al., 2000); these are assumed to form by shoreface sands transported offshore by storm-driven
downwelling and along-strike currents. The geometry and size of these clinoforms are similar to those in the
Sognefjord Formation.

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta


coastal currents and storms (Driscoll & Karner,
1999; Cattaneo et al., 2003, 2007). These deltaic
bodies are laterally extensive and strike parallel
to the shore, with clinoforms that can be followed
along-strike even for thousands of kilometres (for
example, the along-shelf mud belt of Liu et al.,
2006, 2007) (Fig. 1B). Cattaneo et al. (2003) point
out that a continuous suite of genetically related
depocentres on the inner shelf exists between: (i)
more localized, supply-dominated deltas, which
are oriented normal to radial to the direction of
net-sediment transport and progradation; (ii)
hybrid deltas with compound clinoforms, in
which shore-parallel unidirectional currents
cause the progradation direction to become normal to sediment transport in the prodelta region;
and (iii) shore-parallel subaqueous deltas, which
are distant from direct river inputs and dominated by basinal storm waves and shelf currents.
The portion of sediment delivered to the subaqueous clinoform increases with: (i) greater frequency and magnitude of coastal storms; (ii)
decreasing river flood discharge; and (iii) decreasing mean sediment grain size (Swenson et al.,
2005).
Recent sand-prone delta-scale subaqueous
clinoforms contain very fine-grained to mediumgrained sands in their upper parts (Mitchell
et al., 2012). Typical examples have been
observed on steep shelves of high wave energy,
such as off of south-eastern Australia (Field &
Roy, 1984), offshore southern Iberia (Hern
andezMolina et al., 2000; Lobo et al., 2005; Fernandez-Salas et al., 2009), on the New Zealand shelf
(Dunbar & Barrett, 2005) and off of Monterey
Bay and Oceanside, California (Chin et al., 1988;
Le Dantec et al., 2010). Compared with muddy
subaqueous deltas, sand-prone subaqueous
clinothems occupy much smaller areas on narrower shelves, and prograde at a slower rate.
Usually, present-day examples are not associated with riverine sediment input points, and
either onlap onto the underlying substrate or are
linked to non-deltaic shorelines and strandplains (e.g. Fern
andez-Salas et al., 2009). Exceptions exist, however, as the sand-bodies
described off of the mouth of the River Salinas
demonstrate (Mitchell et al., 2012).
Delta-scale sand-prone subaqueous clinothems
are formed by sand exported seawards from the
surf zone during stormy conditions, due to the
combined action of large waves, alongshore and
downwelling bottom currents (Field & Roy,
1984; Hern
andez-Molina et al., 2000; Mitchell
et al., 2012). High hydrodynamic energy during

353

these events affects even sites deeper than 60 m


at distances up to 15 km from the shoreline.
Shore-parallel currents are usually predominant,
as suggested by direct measurements, textural
trends, bedforms and the overall alongshore continuity of the sand bodies (Field & Roy, 1981;
Mitchell et al., 2012). Currents and waves interact in a non-linear pattern, and instantaneous
near-bed stresses can approach 08 Pa at water
depths of 30 m (Mitchell, 2012); this is three to
four times the near-bed shear stress values
needed to entrain sand. In other contexts, strong
tidal currents could play a dominant role in the
offshore transport and deposition of surf sands
(for example, recent tidally induced gravelly
sediment waves; Van Landeghem et al., 2009,
2012). The sand is subsequently deposited along
the subaqueous clinoform foresets, where the
near-bed shear stress declines below the threshold for sediment movement.
Ancient mud-prone subaqueous clinoforms
have been recognized very rarely (e.g. Hampson,
2010). Regressive, sand-prone clinoforms are
generally assumed to be related to prograding
shorelines or subaerial deltas, and rollover
points are subsequently treated as shoreline
break proxies. Only a few studies identified
ancient coarse-grained clinothems containing
cross-beds that were deposited below the wave
base by shore-parallel currents (Pomar & Tropeano, 2001; Pomar et al., 2002).
Therefore, this article has three aims: (i) to
demonstrate that pre-Quaternary reservoir-forming sandstones were deposited by a coarsegrained subaqueous clinothem system; (ii) to
highlight similarities and differences between
this ancient system and modern-day analogues;
and (iii) to investigate how this interpretation
impacts deltaic facies predictions. In order to
address these questions, data from the Upper
Jurassic Sognefjord Formation in the super-giant
Troll Gas and Oil Field, offshore Norway have
been used. Clinoform topsets from this unit
were previously interpreted to have been
deposited in a subaerial delta fronted by a wavedominated spit (Dreyer et al., 2005).

STUDY AREA AND TECTONOSTRATIGRAPHIC CONTEXT


The study area is located on the Horda Platform,
on the eastern flank of the North Viking Graben
(Fig. 2A) which is one of the failed arms of the
trilete North Sea rift basin (Badley et al., 1988;

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

0m

30

0m

300

Unit

Last occurrence
biostratigraphic
events (LOs)

Spread of grain-size
values in the bottomset
area (Series 3)

Mean grain size of


F.A. 3-6 (Series 3) (with
standard deviation bar)

Spread of grain-size values


in the topset-rollover
area (Series 3)

WNW

10

4
3

Fig. 5C

Moderate

Well

V. Well

2
1

*
*

0 API Units 150

7580 cm sec1
(?)

J56

Grain Size

ESE

0m

30

0m

Amalgamated
event bed
sandstones (= F.A. 3)

Top Fensfjord Fm.

Sorting

Cross-bedded sandstones
(= F.A. 4) and
planar-parallel bedded
sandstones (= F.A. 5)

*
*
*

*
*
**

0 API Units 150

Troll West

60100 cm sec
(dunes/upper plane)

Figs.
5C, 6C

**

0 API Units 150

Logged core
intervals

*
*

0 API Units 150

NW

* Heather B

50 API Units 200

1
5
10 20

0.1

60

30

0m

6070 cm sec1
(dunes)

300

1
5
10 20

NW

0 km

Series 2

Series 3

Series 4
31/2-10

Series 5

Silt-draped
sandstones

10

7580 cm sec1
(upper plane)

*
*

0 API Units 150

Bioturbated Siltstones
(= F.A. 1) and bioturbated
siltstones with event bed
sandstones (= F.A. 2)

**

*
*

0 API Units 150

Troll East

J56
J54
J52
J46

MFS

TS

Figs.
5A, 6D

7580 cm sec1
(upper plane)

*
*

0 API Units 150

SE

Fig. 5A

SE

6080 cm sec1
(dunes/upper
plane)

Silt

VFS

FS

MS

J46

J52

J54

Bedset
boundary
= Clinoform

**Y
*

0 API Units 150

366
S. Patruno et al.

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta


A

355

supplement the well and biostratigraphic data


set herein. The line spacing in these surveys is
125 to 25 m in both inline and crossline directions, and the vertical record length is 24 to
30 seconds two-way time (s TWT).

The present data analysis comprised the following five steps: (i) core-based sedimentology,
wireline logs and palynofacies characteristics
were combined to interpret a depositional facies
framework; (ii) the occurrences of selected

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

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S. Patruno et al.

Fig. 2. (A) Palaeogeographical map of the North Sea area during the EarlyMiddle Oxfordian (modified after
Fraser et al., 2002); (B) Late Jurassic stratigraphy developed on the eastern flank of the North Viking Graben; and
(C) regional cross-section across the northern North Sea Basin (modified after Frseth, 1996). Chronostr. = standard chronostratigraphy; High lat. = high latitude (boreal and sub-boreal) nomenclature; World. = worldwide
(Tethys-based) nomenclature; N. Sea MFSs = North Sea basin-wide maximum flooding surfaces; Paly. zones = palynostratigraphic zones. Position of stage boundaries and absolute ages is based on Ogg et al. (2008). Names and
stratigraphic positions of the basin-wide, North Sea maximum flooding surfaces are from Partington et al. (1993);
names and positions of the palynological zones are those proposed by Dreyer et al. (2005). The five rift phases
indicated are based on the studies of Frseth & Ravn
as (1998) and Ravn
as et al. (2000).

palynostratigraphic markers were used to constrain the precise age of the stratigraphic succession; (iii) a sequence stratigraphic framework
was then interpreted by integrating vertical
facies successions with biostratigraphically constrained ages; (iv) the stratigraphic succession
was tied to the seismic reflection data by using
checkshot data and synthetic seismograms
(for example, Fig. 4); and (v) the sequence
stratigraphic interpretations derived from well
data analysis were integrated with seismic
observations and the palaeocurrent directions
inferred from dipmeter data, to develop an integrated depositional and sequence stratigraphic
model.
Almost all of the wells used in this paper
were completely cored, and thus the correlations
presented here were constrained by very high
core coverage. Qualitative and quantitative wireline log characteristics of the facies associations
observed in cored intervals were used to guide
interpretations of the main facies associations in
uncored intervals and wells. Palaeocurrent
trends were used to determine the local sediment transport directions. Seismic data provided
the geometrical framework, which enabled confident interpretation of clinoform occurrence in
the lower Sognefjord Formation, and these data
also enabled the placement of the wells in their
appropriate geomorphological position (for
example, the seismic geomorphology concept
of Posamentier et al., 2007). Synthetic seismograms (for example, Fig. 4) indicate that a vertical distance of 10 ms TWT equates to 10 to
17 m of vertical rock succession (13 m on average). Vertical seismic resolution for the studied
strata is 7 to 16 ms TWT, which equates to 7 to
26 m.

FACIES ANALYSIS AND


INTERPRETATION
Dreyer et al. (2005) published a detailed facies
analysis of the Sognefjord Formation in the wes-

tern part of the Troll Field. Here, this existing


facies scheme is partly modified and extended
based on logging of cores from the lower Sognefjord Formation in both the western and eastern parts of the Troll area. There are two main
differences between the facies scheme of Dreyer
et al. (2005) and that described here. First, here,
each facies is related to a given depositional process and various facies are assembled together
into facies associations which, in turn, are
related to depositional environments. Instead,
the facies of Dreyer et al. (2005) were immediately related to palaeoenvironments. The second
major difference relates to the interpretation of
the most proximal facies types, which were
assigned to shoreface to foreshore environments
by Dreyer et al. (2005), whereas here various
alternative interpretations are examined (cf.
Facies Associations 4 to 6).
The results of this facies analysis are summarized in Table 1 and reported in detail in the
Appendix S1. Six facies associations (FA1 to
FA6) were recognized.
Facies Association 1 (FA1) mostly comprises
micaceous siltstones and very fine-grained sandstones containing abundant marine fossils and
Cruziana ichnofacies assemblages (Facies 1a);
this is rarely intercalated with higher energy
intervals (Facies 1b and 1c). Lithofacies, ichnofacies and palynofacies suggest an overall lowenergy marine shelfal setting, where fine-grained
sediments settled from suspension and were
extensively bioturbated by marine organisms.
Facies Association 1 is equivalent to Facies 1
and 2 (offshore transition fines and event
deposits) of Dreyer et al. (2005).
The bulk of Facies Association 2 (FA2) and
Facies Association 3 (FA3) is composed of bioturbated siltstones (Facies 2a and 3a) and/or of bioturbated fine-grained sandstones with fragments
of carbonaceous debris and marine fossils (Facies
2b and 3b). These facies are usually intercalated
with sparsely bioturbated hummocky cross-laminated fine-grained sandstone intervals (Facies 2c
and 3c) or with sharp-based, poorly sorted,

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Fig. 3. Map of the present-day Norwegian shelf between 6020 and 6130 latitude north, with superimposed time-structure map of the top of the Fensfjord
Formation. This map also shows the location of the main hydrocarbon fields with Upper Jurassic reservoir intervals, their gross palaeoenvironments and
the position of Callovian to Oxfordian age deposits containing abundant coal beds. (B) Map of the Troll Field area, showing faults and studied wells. Wells
whose cores have been logged are indicated by black closed circles; the core logs presented herein (Fig. 5) are indicated on the map by stars.

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

357

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S. Patruno et al.
A

Fig. 4. Synthetic seismograms tying stratigraphic successions and seismic reflections for (A) well 31/2-10, and (B)
well 31/6-5 (Fig. 3B). Regional maximum flooding surfaces (labelled J46, J52, J54 and J56 MFS) correspond to continuous negative (blue) reflections, which envelop sand-rich packages generally corresponding to positive (red)
reflection events. Sandstone-rich bedsets in the lower Sognefjord Formation of well 31/2-10 are labelled A to G,
to facilitate a direct correlation between the stratigraphic succession and its seismic expression (cf. Figs 5 and 6).
Vertical seismic resolution for the studied strata is 7 to 16 ms TWT, which equates to 7 to 26 m. These synthetic
seismograms were produced by combining density and acoustic wireline logs of each well (Petrel algorithms).

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Few dm
to 40 m
thick

1 to
50 m
thick

FA1

FA2 or
FA3

FA2/FA3
typically
overlies: FA1
(gradational
to sharp
contact)
or FA4, FA5,
FA6 (sharp
to erosional
boundary)

FA1 overlies:
FA4, FA5,
FA6 (west)
or FA2/FA3
(east). Sharp
to erosional
contact.

Facies
Lower
Associat. Thickness boundary

2c
3c

2b
3b

2a
3a

4-6

5-6

0-2
Planar-parallel
laminated to HCS
heterolithic alternations
between well-sorted FS
laminae and darker,
micaceous to
carbonaceous VFS
laminae. Thin lamina
couplets (1-3 mm)

Micaceous siltstones
and VFS with rare
thin-shelled bivalves
FS with fragments of
carbonaceous debris

Settling from
hypopycnal jets
and/or
bioturbated
Facies 2c/3c
HCS packages
generated by
storm waves

Settling from
suspension

Transgressive
lags
formed by
erosion and
reworking of
sediment

Marine indicators
with moderate
brackish influence
towards the east;
depositional
energies increasing
up-section; FA3
shows moderate or
high depositional
energies (prolonged
or high-energy
sediment transport)

Proximal
Cruziana or
distal
Skolithos
ichnofacies:
Skolithos,
Planolites,
Ophiomorpha,
Terebellina
Moderate
amount of
marine fossils:
small-sized,
randomly
oriented
bivalves and
bioclasts

5-6

0-4

In the east, FA2/


FA3 underlies
FA1 (sharp to
erosional
contact);
in the west,
FA2/FA3 is
overlain
by: FA4 or FA6
(gradational to
sharp contact)

1c

1b

Lower offshore
markers in a palaeoseaward direction;
upper offshore
with moderate
terrestrial influence
elsewhere

Settling from
suspension
below MSWB
Distal event
beds

5-6

1a

Cruziana
ichnofacies:
Te, Ch, Pl
High content
of marine
fossils:
randomly
oriented,
thin-shelled
bivalves,
belemnites,
bioclasts

FA1 is overlain
by: FA2/FA3.
Gradational to
sharp boundary

Micaceous siltstones
and VFS with rare
thin-shelled bivalves
Rare (<5%) sharpbased, planar-parallel
laminated VFS beds
Decimetre to metrescale, sharp-based, FU
beds of poorly sorted
VFS to pebbles,
situated at the base of
several FA1 packages.
They contain high
concentrations of
bioclasts, intraclasts,
granules, glauconite
and/or heavy mineral
grains. Most often
calcareous cemented

Palynofacies

B.I. Interpretation

Lithological
Facies description

Body and
trace fossils

Upper
boundary

Table 1. Summary of facies associations and facies recognized in cores. FA = Facies Association; B.I. = Bioturbation Index (Taylor & Goldring, 1993). VFS
= very fine-grained sand; FS = fine-grained sand; MS = medium-grained sand; CS = coarse-grained sand; VCS = very coarse-grained sand. Ch = Chondrites;
Pl = Planolites; Op = Ophiomorpha; Te = Terebellina. Biv = bivalves; bcl = bioclasts; bel = belemnites. FU = fining-upward package; HCS = hummocky
cross-stratification.

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta

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359

Cross-stratified to
planar parallelstratified, well to
moderately sorted,
FS to CS
Moderately to poorly
sorted, centimetrescale (4b) to metrescale (4c) thick, sharp
to erosionally based
beds of FS to VCS;
structureless to
normally graded;
massive to planarparallel stratified. Base

4a
Skolithos
ichnofacies:
rare Skolithos,
Ophiomorpha
Low amount of
marine fossils: 4b
small to
4c
medium-sized
bivalves

FA4 typically
overlies: FA2
or FA3
(gradational
to sharp
contact)

FA4 is overlain
by: FA5, FA6
(gradational to
sharp contact) or
by FA1, FA2,
FA3 (sharp to
erosional
boundary)

1 to 40 m
thick

FA4

2f
3f

Moderately to poorly
sorted, centimetre-scale
(2d/3d) to metre-scale
(2e/3d) thick, sharp to
erosionally based
beds of FS to VCS;
structureless to
normally graded;
massive to planarparallel stratified. Base
of beds may contain
poorly sorted, matrixsupported subangularrounded granules,
pebbles, lithoclasts and
bioclasts. Fossils are
absent
Decimetre to metrescale, sharp-based, FU
beds of poorly sorted
VFS to pebbles,
situated at the base of
some FA2/FA3
packages (cf. Facies 1c)

2d
3d
2e
3e

Lithological
Facies description

Body and
trace fossils

Upper
boundary

Facies
Lower
Associat. Thickness boundary

Table 1. (continued)

Transgressive
lags
formed by
erosion and
reworking of
sediment
Dune-scale
bedforms
deposited by
waves or
currents
Rip channel
fills or
hyperpycnites
generated by
exceptional
river foods

5-6

0-2

0-3

Debris flows,
turbidites and
rip currents,
generated by
slope failure,
river floods or
major storms

1-3

B.I. Interpretation

High-energy marine
conditions; no
terrestrial organic
material in the west;
minor brackish
influence eastwards

Palynofacies

360
S. Patruno et al.

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Moderately to poorly
sorted beds of
structureless to planarparallel stratified CS to
gravel (sub-angular to
sub-rounded). Beds are
up to 5 m thick,
separated by 6b or 6c
intervals or
amalgamated.
Sometimes this facies
is arranged in overall
fining-upward packages
overlying a strongly
erosional base and a
pebbly lag
Planar-parallel
laminated,
carbonaceous FS

6a

Rare trace
fossils:
Skolithos
Large bivalve
shells in
apparent life
position
concentrated
along distinct
horizons

FA6 is overlain
by: FA1, FA2,
FA3 (sharp to
erosional
contact)

1-40 m

FA6

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

6c

Cross-stratified to
planar parallelstratified FS to VCS

Sediment-laden
hyperpycnal flows,
sometimes forming
fining-upward
channel fill
successions

Deposition
between
individual
mouth bars
Occasional
waves or
currents

0-2

0-3

0-3

High near-bed
shear stress
due to strong
waves or
currents

0-2

B.I. Interpretation

High fresh-water
influx within an
overall deltaic
setting

No palynofacies
data

Palynofacies

FA = Facies Association; B.I. = Bioturbation Index (Taylor & Goldring, 1993). VFS = very fine-grained sand; FS = fine-grained sand; MS = medium-grained
sand; CS = coarse-grained sand; VCS = very coarse-grained sand. Ch = Chondrites; Pl = Planolites; Op = Ophiomorpha; Te = Terebellina. Biv = bivalves;
bcl = bioclasts; bel = belemnites. FU = fining-upward package; HCS = hummocky cross-stratification.

FA6 typically
overlies: FA4
(sharp
contact)
or FA2, FA3
(sharp to
erosional
contact)

6b

Planar-parallel
laminated, low-angle
parallel stratified and
structureless MS to CS;
locally cross-stratified
intervals

5a

No marine
body or trace
fossils

FA5 underlies:
FA1, FA2, FA3
(erosional
contact)

FA5 overlies:
FA4
(gradational
contact)

1-10 m

of beds may contain


poorly sorted, matrixsupported subangularrounded granules,
gravels, lithoclasts and
bioclasts. Fossils are
usually absent

FA5

Lithological
Facies description

Body and
trace fossils

Upper
boundary

Facies
Lower
Associat. Thickness boundary

Table 1. (continued)

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta


361

362

S. Patruno et al.

coarse-grained to pebbly sandstones (Facies 2d/


3d and 2e/3e). Proximal Cruziana or distal Skolithos ichnofacies are typical of these facies. Facies
Associations 2 and 3 are distinguished based on
the relative amount of the sandstone-poor Facies
2a, in that FA2 contains more than 50% of Facies
2a intervals, whereas more than half of the thickness of FA3 packages is composed of event bed
sandstones (Facies 3c, 3d and 3e) which are often
amalgamated. The suite of lithofacies, ichnofacies
and palynofacies is interpreted to reflect a fully
marine environment with minor brackish influence, between mean fair-weather wave base and
storm-wave base. This offshore transition setting
was intermittently subject to moderate to highenergy depositional events, probably generated
by currents or storms. Palynofacies were interpreted to reflect a moderate to elevated distance
from shorelines and riverine inputs, particularly
towards the west, together with prolonged or
high-energy sediment transport and deposition
via waves and storm-induced currents. Facies
Associations 2 and 3 share several features with
Facies 2 and 3 (event deposits and rip-channel
deposits) of Dreyer et al. (2005).
Facies Association 4 (FA4) has been recognized only towards the western (i.e. distal) parts
of the study area. It mostly comprises dunescale cross-bedded to planar-parallel stratified
sandstones (Facies 4a), sometimes interbedded
with erosively based intervals of poorly sorted,
pebbly sandstones (Facies 4b and 4c). Trace fossils belong to the archetypal Skolithos ichnofacies, but are rare. The suite of lithofacies,
ichnofacies and palynofacies are interpreted here
to reflect the migration and the accumulation
of sand in dunes, within high-energy marine
environments, which were relatively far away
from direct riverine input. The coarser grained
event-beds are interpreted as channel fills caused
by rip currents or hyperpycnal flows. The range
of these depositional processes is consistent with
various high-energy nearshore environments,
including the upper shoreface surf zone, longshore swash bars and offshore sand bars. These
deposits were interpreted by Dreyer et al. (2005)
to represent swash bar and inter-bar deposits (or
their Facies 4) within the upper portion of a
coastal spit. Stability diagrams indicate that
dunes are formed by bottom currents flowing faster than 40 cm sec 1, whereas upper plane
regime is reached at >75 cm sec 1 Mitchell
(2012) and Mitchell et al. (2012) show that shallow-marine shore-parallel storm-induced bottom
currents commonly reach 20 to 70 cm sec 1, and

are therefore able to cause dune migration. A


more specific interpretation of depositional environment for FA4 requires consideration of seismic geomorphological and stratigraphic context,
as below.
Facies Association 5 (FA5) is only identified
in the western part of the study area (for example, well 31/2-10), in successions 1 to 8 m thick.
It is composed of planar-parallel laminated and
structureless beds of medium to coarse-grained
sandstones, with a very low bioturbation intensity. Facies Association 5 is interpreted to
record submarine deposition under conditions
of hydrodynamic upper flow regime. Such conditions are common in modern beaches, but they
are not restricted to such environments. As for
FA4, the seismic geomorphological and stratigraphic context of FA5, as outlined below, has
been used to interpret a specific depositional
environment. The range of lithofacies and ichnofacies of FA5 deposits is equivalent to that of
Facies 5 (beach deposits) of Dreyer et al.
(2005), but their interpretation will not be
endorsed here.
Facies Association 6 (FA6) is only developed
at the north-east of the study area (for example,
wells 31/2-6 and 31/3-2). The bulk of FA6 is
characterized by structureless, poorly sorted,
coarse-grained to pebbly sandstone intervals,
sometimes arranged in a fining-upward succession with a well-defined basal sub-angular gravelly lag (Facies 6a). Facies 6a packages are
either amalgamated, separated by intervals of
fine-grained carbonaceous sandstones (Facies
6b) or by cross-bedded sandstone strata (Facies
6c). Trace fossils are rare, except a few Skolithos, and palynofacies are suggestive of high
fresh-water influx. Facies Association 6 is interpreted to document the interaction between
marine and riverine processes within an overall
delta front to brackish marginal marine environment. This setting was apparently subjected to
abundant sediment-laden gravity flows and hyperpycnal flows (Facies 6a). The features and
interpretation of FA6 are similar to those of the
Facies 6 and 7 (distributary channels and
mouth bar deposits) of Dreyer et al. (2005).

FACIES DISTRIBUTIONS AND


STRATIGRAPHIC ARCHITECTURE
In this section, the distribution in cores and
well logs of the facies associations documented
above is described. These facies associations are

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta


A

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

363

364

S. Patruno et al.

Fig. 5. Representative stratigraphic successions through the lower Sognefjord Formation, from various parts of
the Troll Field (Fig. 3): (A) south-east (well 31/6-2); (B) north-east (well 31/2-6); and (C) west well (31/2-10). Sandstone-rich bedsets labelled D to F in well 31/2-10 and muddy to sandy bedsets labelled X, Y and Z in well 31/
6-2 correspond to those bounded by seismically resolvable clinoforms in Figs 4 and 6.

then related to distributions and stratigraphic


architectures observed in cores, well logs and
3D seismic data.

Vertical facies successions


The facies associations described above are
stacked into a series of 3 to 40 m thick, upwardcoarsening successions that each records an
upward increase in hydrodynamic energy (for
example, bedsets labelled in Fig. 5). From base to
top, a complete upward-coarsening succession is
composed of the following facies associations: bioturbated siltstones (FA1), bioturbated siltstones
and event bed sandstones (FA2), amalgamated
event bed sandstones (FA3), cross-bedded sandstones (FA4) and planar parallel-laminated sandstones (FA5). Cross-bedded sandstones (FA4) and
planar parallel-laminated sandstones (FA5) are
thin or absent in the south-east of the study area,
and they are replaced by massive to cross-bedded
coarse-grained sandstones (FA6) in the north-east
of the study area (Figs 5 to 7). The upward-coarsening facies successions described above are
foreshortened in some wells by abrupt but minor
facies dislocations across sharp-based intervals of

FA3, FA4 and FA6 (for example, FA3 abruptly


overlies FA1 at 1593 m in Fig. 5B and 1730 m in
Fig. 5C; FA4 abruptly overlies FA2 at 1683 m in
Fig. 5C; FA6 abruptly overlies FA2 at 1600 m in
Fig. 5B), recording localized, abrupt increases in
hydrodynamic energy. Upward-coarsening successions are typically bounded by a sharp or erosional surface that is locally lined by a lag (Facies
1c, 2f and 3f) (Fig. 5).
The upward-coarsening successions may record
increasing hydrodynamic energy in response to
progressive shallowing of water depth, such that
the successions are parasequences bounded by
marine flooding surfaces (sensu Van Wagoner
et al., 1990). However, in the absence of independent indicators of shoreline position and water
depth, the successions may equally reflect conditions of progressively more energetic storm waves
and/or currents driven by variations in climate,
oceanographic circulation or shoreline palaeogeography (e.g. Storms & Hampson, 2005; Smme
et al., 2008; Mitchell et al., 2012), such that the
successions constitute bedsets that formed without relative changes in sea-level (cf. Hampson
et al., 2008). Similarly, the abrupt, minor facies
dislocations occurring locally within the upward-

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta


coarsening successions may reflect relative falls in
sea-level (cf. Plint, 1988), increases in storm wave
and/or current energy, or increased sand influx via
river floods (e.g. Storms & Hampson, 2005). Distinguishing the potential origin(s) of the upwardcoarsening successions from one-dimensional
(1D) core and well-log data is essentially impossible without consideration of the geometry, extent
and associated shoreline position of the surfaces
that bound the successions (Storms & Hampson,
2005) which, in this case, require analysis of
stratigraphic architecture in 3D seismic data.
However, evidence for subaerial exposure as a
proxy for shoreline position, in the form of rootlets, palaeosols and Scoyenia ichnofacies (sensu
Pemberton et al., 1992) at the top of the upwardcoarsening successions, is noticeably absent
throughout the Sognefjord Formation in the Troll
Field area. The same has been noticed for the
underlying Fensfjord and Krossfjord formation
(Holgate et al., 2013). Lower Oxfordian coal-bearing coastal plain deposits occur in the Bjory Formation near Bergen, onshore Norway (Fossen
et al., 1997) and in the Sognefjord Formation in
well 36/7-2 (Norwegian Petroleum Directorate,
2012), respectively situated 75 km to the southeast and 50 km to the north-east of the Troll Field
(Fig. 3B). The nearest well to the Troll area that
shows definite evidence of palaeosols and rootlets
is 32/4-1, situated ca 10 km to the east of Troll East
(Fig. 3B). However, these facies are only Volgian
in age. Therefore, there is no evidence that the
shoreline laid within the Troll Field area at any
point during Sognefjord Formation deposition,
and there is also no evidence for shoreline retreat
associated with the boundaries of the upwardcoarsening successions. The examined succession
is overall wave-dominated and marine in nature,
and it lacks any tidal indicators. Lowermost flow-

365

regime structures, such as ripples, are absent,


which suggests that dune-scale and parallel bedded-scale flows were dominant, potentially overprinting and reworking minor structures such as
ripples. Additionally, the presence of potential
river-flood generated facies are interspersed
within event beds and siltstones settled from suspensions, which may suggest that a riverine sediment input point was not too far away from the
Troll area.
Regional correlations constrained by biostratigraphic data indicate that several major flooding
surfaces recognized throughout the northern
North Sea occur within the Sognefjord Formation (J46, J52, J54 and J56 regional maximum
flooding surfaces of Partington et al., 1993;
Fig. 2B). These major flooding surfaces coincide
approximately with the major subdivisions of
the Sognefjord Formation reservoir in the Troll
Field into Series 2 to 6 (Figs 4 to 8; Dreyer
et al., 2005) and they also coincide with welldefined, continuous and mappable seismic
reflections (Figs 4, 9 and 10). The lower part of
the Sognefjord Formation contains the J46 (top
Callovian) and J52 (middle Oxfordian) regional
maximum flooding surfaces, which coincide
with the upper boundaries of Series 2 and Series 3 (Figs 4 to 7). In core, both regional maximum flooding surfaces are characterized by
concentrations of glauconite, faecal pellets, belemnites and shell fragments, indicating condensed sedimentation (Fig. 5). Series 2 and
Series 3 are both up to 60 m thick, and each
contains between one and four upward-coarsening successions in any particular core or welllog section (Figs 5 to 7). In sections where multiple upward-coarsening successions are stacked
vertically within a series, the successions are
progressively thicker and more sandstone-rich

Fig. 6. (A) South-east/north-west trending well correlation panel through the Sognefjord Formation in the Troll
Field (Figs 3B and 14A). A gamma ray curve is shown for each well, with approximately medium-grained sandstones and coarser grained rocks (<70 API) highlighted in orange. Series 2-5 bounded by regional maximum
flooding surfaces (J surfaces of Partington et al., 1993) are identified, each corresponding to a set of westerly dipping clinoforms. Series 2 and Series 3 are discussed in this paper. The panel is flattened on the J46 maximum
flooding surface, and oriented approximately parallel to the dip of the studied clinoforms (cf. Figs 9 to 11). Sandstone-rich, clinoform-bounded bedsets in well 31/2-10 are labelled C to G (cf. Figs 4, 5C and 6C), and bedsets
in well 31/6-2 are labelled X, Y and Z (cf. Figs 5A and 6D). (B) Mean grain size of bottomset and rollover/topset
of Series 3 clinothems, together with mean grain size and sorting of sandstone-rich deposits (Facies Associations
2 to 5) of Series 3 along the same well correlation panel as Fig. 6A. Bars about mean values represent the standard deviation. Grain size and sorting values are derived from hand-lens observation of cores, repeated at 5 cm
intervals. VFS = very fine-grained sand; FS = fine-grained sand; MS = medium-grained sand; CS = coarse-grained
sand; VCS = very coarse-grained sand. (C) and (D) Seismic cross-sections intersecting wells 31/2-10 and 31/6-2,
and oriented sub-parallel to the correlation transect (Figs 3B and 14A). Both cross-sections have been flattened on
the J46 maximum flooding surface. Sandstone-rich, clinoform-bounded bedsets in well 31/2-10 are labelled C to
G (cf. Figs 4, 5 and 6C).
2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

0m

30

0m

300

Unit

Last occurrence
biostratigraphic
events (LOs)

Spread of grain-size
values in the bottomset
area (Series 3)

Mean grain size of


F.A. 3-6 (Series 3) (with
standard deviation bar)

Spread of grain-size values


in the topset-rollover
area (Series 3)

WNW

10

4
3

Fig. 5C

Moderate

Well

V. Well

2
1

*
*

0 API Units 150

7580 cm sec1
(?)

J56

Grain Size

ESE

0m

30

0m

Amalgamated
event bed
sandstones (= F.A. 3)

Top Fensfjord Fm.

Sorting

Cross-bedded sandstones
(= F.A. 4) and
planar-parallel bedded
sandstones (= F.A. 5)

*
*
*

*
*
**

0 API Units 150

Troll West

60100 cm sec
(dunes/upper plane)

Figs.
5C, 6C

**

0 API Units 150

Logged core
intervals

*
*

0 API Units 150

NW

* Heather B

50 API Units 200

1
5
10 20

0.1

60

30

0m

6070 cm sec1
(dunes)

300

1
5
10 20

NW

0 km

Series 2

Series 3

Series 4
31/2-10

Series 5

Silt-draped
sandstones

10

7580 cm sec1
(upper plane)

*
*

0 API Units 150

Bioturbated Siltstones
(= F.A. 1) and bioturbated
siltstones with event bed
sandstones (= F.A. 2)

**

*
*

0 API Units 150

Troll East

J56
J54
J52
J46

MFS

TS

Figs.
5A, 6D

7580 cm sec1
(upper plane)

*
*

0 API Units 150

SE

Fig. 5A

SE

6080 cm sec1
(dunes/upper
plane)

Silt

VFS

FS

MS

J46

J52

J54

Bedset
boundary
= Clinoform

**Y
*

0 API Units 150

366
S. Patruno et al.

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Poor

1670

1570

*
*
*

1660

1580

1520

1740

1680

*
*

*
*
*
1600 *

0 API Units 150

Logged
core
intervals

**

31/3-2

Fig. 5B

NE
31/3-3

*
*

More than 80 cm sec1


(upper plane)

Silt-draped sandstones

Grain Size

Sorting

1710

1650

1770

**
**

1590

0 API Units 150

Heather B Unit

31/6-6

Amalgamated event bed


sandstones (= F.A. 3)

10

Mean grain size and sorting of F.A. 3-6 (Series 3)

More than 80 cm sec1


(upper plane)

J56

Cross-bedded sandstones
(= F.A. 4) and planar-parallel
bedded sandstones (= F.A. 5)

1530

*
* 1450
*

*
1390
*

50 API Units 200

Top Fensfjord Fm.

0 km

31/3-1

Bioturbated siltstones (= F.A. 1)


and bioturbated siltstones with
event bed sandstones (= F.A. 2)

Massive to cross-bedded
coarse-grained sandstones
(= F.A. 6)

1970

1910

1850

*
*

*
*
1790

0 API Units 150

SE

Troll East

J56
J54
J52
J46

MFS

*
*

7580 cm sec1
(upper plane)

1700

1620

1560

31/6-5

TS

J54

Silt

VFS

FS

MS

CS

J46

* J52
*

Bedset
boundary
= Clinoform

1720

1660

1600

1540

0 API Units 150

31/6-8

SW

Fig. 7. (A) North-east/south-west trending well correlation panel through the Sognefjord Formation in the eastern portion of the Troll Field (Figs 3B and
14A). The panel is flattened on the J46 maximum flooding surface and oriented along the strike of the studied clinoforms (cf. Figs 9 to 11). (B) Mean grain
size of bottomset and rollover/topset of Series 3 clinothems, together with mean grain size and sorting of sandstone-rich deposits (Facies Associations 2 to
5) of Series 3 along the same well correlation panel as (A) (cf. Fig. 6B).

40100 cm sec1
(dunes/upper plane)

biostratigraphic
events (LOs)

1510

31/2-6

0 API Units 150

* Last occurrence

1660

1580

*
**
1520

0 API Units150

31/2-M 41
31/2-15

NW

0 API Units 150

10

Moderate

Well

V. Well

0.1

60

30

0m

Sorting

Troll West

Grain
size

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

367

368

S. Patruno et al.
A

Fig. 8. Maps showing the main palaeocurrents, palynofacies and maximum regression facies across the Troll
Field area in (A) Series 2 and (B) Series 3 (Figs 4, 6 and 7). Major faults are shown. Palaeocurrent interpretation
of dipmeter data from Nilsen et al. (1993); each oriented line indicating a palaeocurrent represents the mean of
several measurements, with the length of each line depending on the quality and quantity of data, and the vertical
extent over which the measurements are consistent. Facies data are from direct core observations, or by observations of core photographs available online (Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, 2012). Qualitative and quantitative
wireline log characteristics of the facies associations observed in cored intervals have been used to guide interpretations of the main facies associations in uncored intervals and wells. Palynofacies data and interpretations are
from Whitaker (1981, 1982a,b, 1983, 1985), Bell et al. (1984a,b) and Duxbury et al. (1984a,b).

from the base to the upper part of the series


(for example, Fig. 5C).

Areal distributions of facies associations


In the south-eastern (palaeolandward) part of
the Troll Field, upward-coarsening successions
in both Series 2 and Series 3 consist mainly
of FA2 and FA3, and are characterized by off-

shore to shoreface palynofacies that indicate low


to moderate reworking (for example, Figs 5A, 6
and 8). In contrast, upward-coarsening successions further west (palaeoseaward) are dominated by FA4 and FA5 in their upper part,
whilst intervals of FA2 and FA3 are thin (Figs 5
to 8). Palynofacies indicate prolonged and/or
high-energy reworking (Fig. 8). In Series 2,
these successions pass westwards into the

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta

369

Fig. 9. (A) Uninterpreted and (B) interpreted, representative seismic cross-section showing clinoforms in the
western part of the Troll field (located in Figs 3B and 14A). The cross-section is flattened along the interpreted J46
maximum flooding surface. Westerly dipping oblique clinoforms with narrow or absent topsets and steep foreset are
observed in Series 3, between reflections labelled J46 and J52. Calculated foreset dip angles and heights of clinoforms A to H are shown in Fig. 10. (C) Reconstructed geomorphology and structure at time of deposition. The J46
datum surface is assigned a geomorphological shape based on the height and distribution of underlying clinoforms,
and facies associations inferred by extrapolation from nearby cored wells 31/5-2 and 31/2-1. This interpretation
implies fault-related thickening during the deposition of the Late Callovian Heather B unit (Series 2); however, fault
activity had ceased by the time that the sandstones of the lower Sognefjord Formation started to be deposited.

shales of the Heather B unit (Fig. 6A). Facies


Association 6 and deltaic or estuarine palynofacies occur only in the upper part of upwardcoarsening successions in the north-east of the
Troll Field (for example, Figs 5B, 6 and 8). The
present authors follow Stewart et al. (1995)
and Dreyer et al. (2005) in interpreting this
areal distribution of facies associations to
record deposition of each series in a mixedprocess delta, which is internally subdivided
into wave-dominated (FA2 to FA5) and fluvial-

dominated (FA6) environments. The detailed


spatial distribution of these facies associations
varies between Series 2 and Series 3 (Figs 6
to 8), and potentially between the upwardcoarsening successions of which the series are
composed, reflecting the spatial variations in
depositional process inherent to a mixed-process delta (e.g. Bhattacharya & Giosan, 2003;
Ainsworth et al., 2011). Additional facies associations that display evidence of marked tidal
influence occur in the upper part of the Sog-

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

370

S. Patruno et al.

Fig. 10. (A) Uninterpreted and (B) interpreted, representative seismic cross-section showing clinoforms in the
south-eastern part of the Troll field (located in Figs 3B and 14A). The cross-section is flattened along the interpreted J46 maximum flooding surface. Westerly dipping sigmoidal clinoforms with well-developed topsets and
relatively gentle foreset dips are observed in both Series 2, between reflections labelled Fensfjord Formation top
and J46, and Series 3, between reflections labelled J46 and J52. Calculated foreset dip angles and heights of
clinoforms I to N in Series 3 are shown. (C) Reconstructed geomorphology and structure at time of deposition,
with facies associations inferred by extrapolation from nearby cored wells 31/6-8, 31/6-1, 31/6-5 and 31/6-2.

nefjord Formation (Figs 6 and 7; Dreyer et al.,


2005); these facies associations are not documented in this paper.
In Series 2 and Series 3, palaeocurrents are
generally oriented towards the west or south/
south-west, although more diverse palaeocurrent
directions occur in FA6 in the north-eastern part
of the Troll Field (Fig. 8; Nilsen et al., 1993).
Hand specimen observations of cores, taken at
5 cm intervals from Series 3, show that grain
size and sorting trends of sandstones reflect the
lateral distributions of facies associations
described above (Figs 6B and 7B). Sandstones in
the south-eastern part of the Troll Field are finegrained on average; medium-grained and coarsegrained sandstones are rare and restricted to
thin event beds. In the west, however, the
average grain size is distinctly coarser and domi-

nated by medium-grained sandstone, although


the overall range of grain sizes is larger. The
presence of coarser, more poorly sorted sandstones in the north-east is interpreted to indicate
greater proximity to a fluvial sediment input
point (e.g. Dreyer et al., 2005). Sandstone grains
are generally sub-rounded throughout the study
area, but gravel clasts are sub-angular to
rounded.

Seismic-stratigraphic architecture
The relations between the internal architecture
of delta-scale subaqueous clinothems and potential driving factors are still far from well understood. The analysis of delta-scale sand-prone
subaqueous clinothems offshore southern Iberia
(Lobo et al., 2005), nevertheless, highlights that

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relative sea-level changes are the principal drivers for the major-scale variations in sedimentary
architecture and stacking pattern, and the same
is hypothesized herein. Smaller scale architectural changes possibly reflect variations in either
wave climate or coarse-grained sediment fluxes.
In the following discussions, therefore, classical sequence stratigraphic terms and their
genetic significance will be retained for largescale stratigraphic motifs, such as for the major
flooding surfaces that bound the main regressivetransgressive clinoform sets. However, the
origins of smaller scale features, such as the
individual seismically imaged clinoforms and
bedsets, is more enigmatic.
Mapping of reflections in 3D seismic data
shows that Series 2 and Series 3 each comprise a set of westerly prograding clinoforms
(Figs 6, 7, 9 and 10). The top of each clinoform
set is marked by a regional maximum flooding
surface (labelled J46 and J52 in Figs 6, 7, 9 and
10). Upward-coarsening successions (or bedsets) within each series (4 to 38 m) correspond
to stratal packages bounded by clinoforms (i.e.
clinothems sensu Rich, 1951), some of which are
seismically resolved (Figs 6C, 6D, 9 and 10). The
contrast in acoustic impedance of facies associations juxtaposed across some clinoform surfaces
is presumably sufficient to generate a seismic
reflection, although core and well-log data contain other upward-coarsening successions that
are not seismically imaged. Seismic forward
modelling suggests that shoreline and deltaic
clinoforms are seismically imaged in the Troll
Field where they are marked by prominent interfingering of facies associations with different
acoustic properties (i.e. bedset boundaries
herein) or lined by 50 m thick carbonate-cemented intervals (Holgate et al., 2014), where the
spacing between individual clinoforms is greater
than the seismic tuning thickness (10 m).
At the resolution of the seismic data, successive clinothems are stacked laterally with little
or no vertical aggradation, implying near-

371

horizontal regressive trajectories (sensu HellandHansen & Hampson, 2009). As discussed


previously, the clinoforms cannot be demonstrably linked to landward migration of the shoreline across flooding surfaces (preserved
shoreline deposits only lie outside of the study
area). Thus, the observed seismicstratigraphic
architecture favours interpretation of the clinothems as bedsets that formed during a relative
sea-level standstill, under rather steady conditions of wave climate and sediment flux. From
this interpretation, it follows that each clinoform
set represents a single episode of regression,
with each clinothem representing an increment
of regression. Seismically imaged clinoforms
represent geomorphological snapshots of the
ancient depositional surface, taken when regression was temporarily interrupted by episodic
changes in relative sea-level, wave climate or
coarse-grained sediment flux. Regional maximum flooding surfaces (for example, J46 and J52
in Figs 6C, 6D, 9 and 10) define the seismic
envelopes of clinoform sets. Corresponding
transgressive deposits are too thin to be seismically resolved, but are probably represented in
cores and well-logs by intervals of bioturbated
siltstones and thin, sandstone-poor upwardcoarsening successions that cap regressive successions and underlie maximum flooding surfaces (for example, below J46 and J52 maximum
flooding surfaces in Fig. 5A and B). Each series
therefore represents a regressivetransgressive
cycle (or genetic sequence sensu Galloway,
1989) in which the regressive clinoform set and
overlying transgressive deposits are separated by
a surface of maximum regression (sensu Helland-Hansen & Gjelberg, 1994), equivalent to a
transgressive surface (sensu Van Wagoner et al.,
1990 and Embry, 1995).

Clinoform geometry
Well correlation panels and seismic cross-sections oriented westeast, from palaeoseaward to

Fig. 11. Seismically derived maps illustrating the plan-view geometry of clinoforms identified in cross-section
(Figs. 9 and 10) and the stratigraphic intervals that contain them. (A) Time thickness map of the lower Sognefjord
Formation (from the top of the Fensfjord Formation to the J52 transgression). (B) and (C) Maximum amplitude
attribute maps extracted from windows placed (B) 20 to 40 ms and (C) 40 to 60 ms above the top of the Fensfjord
Formation (constructed with the seismic volume flattened on the Fensfjord Formation top surface). (D) Uninterpreted (upper) and interpreted (lower) seismic cross-section (Figs 3B and 11A to C) oriented approximately perpendicular to the thickness trends in Fig. 11A, the linear amplitude anomalies in Fig. 11B and C, and clinoforms
in Fig. 12. The 20 to 40 ms and 40 to 60 ms extraction windows utilized for the previous attribute maps (Fig. 11B
and C) are also shown. It now becomes evident that these two interval windows were chosen to highlight the orientation approximately of the Series 2 and Series 3 clinoforms, respectively.
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palaeolandward (Stewart et al., 1995; Dreyer
et al., 2005), show that Series 2 and Series 3
both thicken westwards. At the point of maximum thickness, the maximum flooding surface
at the top of the series rolls over to define a
topsetforesettoeset clinoform geometry at the
position of maximum regression (Figs 6C and 9).
Furthermore, an isochron of the lower Sognefjord Formation indicates that the clinoform rollover and associated thinning at maximum
regression of the Series 3 clinoform set is linear, strikes NNESSW and is laterally extensive
for at least 30 km along depositional strike
(Fig. 11A). The clinoform-set rollover of this,
and all, series is situated near and trends subparallel to the western edge of the Horda
Platform (Fig. 11).
Maximum amplitude attribute maps extracted
from windows within the lower Sognefjord
Formation show that a series of NNESSW oriented, laterally extensive, linear to slightly curvilinear anomalies occur throughout the Troll
Field (Fig. 11B and C). Seismic cross-sections
perpendicular to these linear anomalies indicate
that they are situated at the intersection of the
seismic attribute extraction windows with the
foresets of individual clinoforms and with the
roll-over positions of clinoform sets at maximum
regression (Fig. 11D). In particular, the upper
extraction window (Fig. 11B) defines the foresets of the clinoforms, whilst the lower window
(Fig. 11C) defines the rollover position of the
Series 3 clinoform set. The map-view amplitude patterns shown by the attribute extractions
conform to the NNESSW strike direction of the
Series 3 clinoform-set rollover (Fig. 11A). Therefore, the individual resolvable clinoforms and
the major flooding surfaces that bound the clinoform sets are oriented parallel to one another,
and share an overall NNESSW strike (Figs 11
and 12). This strike orientation is nearly uniform
throughout the study area (Fig. 13A); it is subparallel to the overall structural grain (Figs 11
and 12), and the dominant palaeocurrent directions are either sub-parallel or orthogonal to it
(Fig. 8).
Individual clinoforms form near-linear segments of 1 to 13 km strike extent (Fig. 12). In
the eastern part of the Troll Field, clinoforms
have small heights (10 to 30 m), large dip
extents (1 to 3 km) and gentle foreset dips (1 to
6, measured relative to the flattened top-Fensfjord datum surface in Figs 6C, 6D, 9, 10, 11D,
13B and 13C). Towards the west, the clinoforms
gradually become higher (15 to 55 m), narrower

373

(02 to 15 km) and steeper (5 to 16) (Figs 12,


13B and 13C), resulting in an increasingly welldefined oblique profile. A clear break in these
trends occurs where a given clinoform set progrades beyond the position of maximum regression attained by the previous clinoform set (for
example, between wells 31/2-1 and 31/2-10, cf.
Fig. 6). Here, the clinoforms encounter deeper
water, due to the topsetforeset rollover morphology of the underlying clinoform set. Subsequently, as clinoform rollovers are formed at a
constant water depth when the wave climate is
steady, abruptly higher and steeper clinoforms
are developed (cf. Fig. 16D and E). Clinoform
topsets are well-developed in the south-east of
the study area, but are narrow or absent in the
westernmost part, such that clinoform foresets
may be top-truncated. As previously suggested
by Dreyer et al. (2005), these steeply sloping
clinoform foresets would create the geomorphological gradient necessary to trigger and sustain
the episodic sediment gravity flows and stormrelated combined flows recorded by coarsegrained event beds in FA2 and FA3 (Facies 2d,
2e, 3d and 3e).
The topset to foreset portion of clinoforms in
the south-east of the Troll Field area is composed largely of well-sorted, hummocky crossstratified, fine-grained sandstones (FA2 and
FA3), whereas the foreset to bottomset portion is
composed of offshore siltstones (FA1) (Fig. 10).
An important inference derived from this facies
composition is that these clinothems accumulated below fair-weather wave base. Towards the
west, however, the whole clinoform foreset is
composed of well-sorted, cross-bedded, fine to
coarse-grained sandstones (FA4) (Fig. 9); this
suggests that they accumulated in an environment that was continuously reworked by strong
currents, either above or below fair-weather
wave base.

DEPOSITIONAL MODELS FOR THE


LOWER SOGNEFJORD FORMATION
The facies characteristics and distributions,
stratigraphic architecture and palaeocurrent
trends of the lower Sognefjord Formation suggest that each regressivetransgressive series
consists principally of a clinoform set that prograded towards the west through the accretion
of successive clinothems. The parts of the depositional system represented in the study area
were fully subaqueous and sand-rich, with local

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S. Patruno et al.

Fig. 12. Time-thickness map of selected clinoforms within Series 3, with their thickness shown relative to the
underlying J46 surface as an approximation of clinoform height. Individual clinoforms form near-linear segments
of 1 to 13 km strike extent, all showing a consistent NNESSW strike direction and westerly dips. The clinoforms
generally tend to become narrower and steeper towards the west.

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375

Fig. 13. Graphs showing morphological parameters of selected, clearly resolved clinoforms following depth conversion of seismic profiles oriented perpendicular to clinoform strike: (A) clinoform strike azimuth relative to
north; (B) clinoform foreset dip; and (C) clinoform foreset height averaged along their strike. The data are arranged
according to the approximate UTM longitude values of the clinoforms. Clinoforms shown in red and labelled A
to N are shown in Figs 9 and 10. In the east, clinoforms generally have small heights (10 to 30 m) and relatively
gentle westerly dips (1 to 6). Towards the west, clinoforms become thicker (20 to 50 m) and steeper (4 to 14).
However, the NNESSW strike azimuth is constant throughout the study area.

fluvial sediment influx in the north-east and a


high degree of sediment reworking by waves
and currents towards the south and south-west
(Fig. 14). These characteristics are consistent
with deposition in a delta with significant wave
influence (cf. Stewart et al., 1995; Dreyer et al.,
2005) and, as noted, delta plain and shoreline
deposits are only preserved east of the Troll
Field (Figs 3A and 14). Four depositional models that may account for the key features summarized above are discussed below. The key
elements of each model are first outlined, and

then compared against observations that either


support or refute the model.

Spit fronting a tidal back-basin


The first model interprets a spit system to the
west that sheltered a coeval embayment or backbasin to the east (Fig 15A; fig. 14 of Dreyer
et al., 2005). The top of the spit was probably
elevated above the mean low tide (cf. Evans,
1942), and may have comprised aeolian dunes
and beach ridges (cf. Nielsen et al., 1988; Zec-

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Fig. 14. (A) Map showing distribution of facies associations directly below surface of maximum regression in Series 3, based on the maximum amplitude
attribute map extracted from a window situated 40 to 60 ms above the top of the Fensfjord Formation (Fig. 11C). (B) and (C) Interpretive palaeogeographical
maps relating clinoform geometry to facies character and depositional environments during (B) early and (C) late stages of clinoform-set regression in
Series 3. The inferred shoreline position is drawn to the east of the study area. Changes in facies character and clinoform geometry towards the west are
interpreted to reflect: (i) increased wave energy, resulting in deepening of mean fair-weather wave and current base (MFWCB); and (ii) increased coarsegrained sediment flux, due to greater proximity to a river outlet and/or greater efficiency of marine sediment transport.

376
S. Patruno et al.

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377

Fig. 15. Potential depositional


models for the lower Sognefjord
Formation in the Troll Field:
(A) spit and sheltered backbasin,
characterized by spatial variation in
depositional processes (modified
after Dreyer et al., 2005); (B)
subaqueous delta, characterized by
temporal variation in depositional
processes as the delta approached
the platform edge; and (C) coeval
spit and subaqueous delta
developed in separate structural
domains. See text for discussion.
The positions of three cored wells
(Fig. 4) and two seismically
constrained cross-sections (Figs 6C,
6D, 9, 10, 11E and 16) are shown.
Representation (B) is the preferred
model because it agrees with all of
the seismic geomorphological and
sedimentological features observed
in the Sognefjord Formation.

chin et al., 2010). Comparison with Pleistocene


to Recent spits indicates that the subaerially
exposed spit top was probably underlain by a
more areally extensive subaqueous spit platform
constructed by accretion of sand transported by
longshore currents (cf. FA4 and FA5) (Nielsen
et al., 1988; Nielsen & Johannessen, 2009). The
subaqueous spit platform has a greater volume
and higher preservation potential than the subaerially exposed spit top (Nielsen & Johannessen, 2001, 2009). According to Dreyer et al.
(2005), the back-basin lying to the east of the
spit was sheltered from wave energy and thus
was probably muddy. However, it may have
been locally supplied with sand by a combination of: (i) storm washover from the spit to the
west; (ii) tidal currents entering the southern

entrance of the embayed back-basin; and (iii)


fluvially fed bay-head deltas from the coastal
plain to the east.
The spit model explains some of the spatial
variability in facies associations across the study
area, in particular the occurrence of a shorelineparallel belt of cross-bedded sandstones (FA4
and FA5) in the west of the study area
(Fig. 14A), where the model was first proposed
(Dreyer et al., 2005). It also accounts for southward-directed and south-westward-directed palaeocurrents in these sandstones (Fig. 8) which
can be attributed to the action of longshore currents. However, the spit model does not explain
three key observations. Firstly, seismic data indicate a simple geomorphology of near-linear clinoforms that dip consistently to the west (Figs 11B,

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S. Patruno et al.

11C, 12 and 13), rather than the more complex


geometries that characterize Recent to modern
spits (for example, recurved tips in plan view,
with clinoforms locally dipping perpendicular to
the shoreline trend; Nielsen et al., 1988; Nielsen
& Johannessen, 2009) and sheltered back-basins
(for example, embayed margins in plan view,
with clinoforms dipping towards the centre of the
back-basin). Secondly, there are no preserved
remnants of organic-rich mud and peat deposits,
such as those developed at the top and behind
Recent to modern spits (e.g. Redfield, 1965;
Nielsen & Johannessen, 2001, 2009; Baily &
Pearson, 2007). Thirdly, the interpretation of a
sheltered back-basin in the east of the study area
is contradicted by the abundance here of highenergy event beds, hummocky cross-stratified
intervals (Facies 2d, 2e, 3d and 3e, within FA2
and FA3 in Figs 5A, 6A and 10) and strongly
reworked marine and shelfal palynofacies
(Fig. 8).

Subaqueous clinoforms of a compoundclinoform delta


This second model interprets that clinoforms
throughout the southern and western portions of
the study area were formed as part of a sandrich subaqueous delta, fed from a river outlet situated to the north-east and sculpted by the action
of marine bottom currents (Figs 14B, 14C, 15B
and 16). Subaqueous clinoforms were supplied
with sand-prone sediment exported offshore during storm events by the action of large waves and
related shore-parallel and downwelling bottom
currents. The increase in clinoform height
towards the west (Fig. 10C) suggests that clinoform progradation occurred across a westwardsloping sea floor. The increase in grain size and
change from sigmoidal to oblique clinoform
geometry towards the west imply that clinothems
were fed by a progressively greater coarse-grained
sediment flux, due to: (i) increased proximity to,
and/or volume of, riverine sediment input; and
(ii) increased wave and/or current energy, related
to a deeper mean fair-weather wave and current
base, within a fully subaqueous environment
(Figs 14B, 14C and 16B to D). In the context of the
subaqueous clinoform model, deposits of FA4
and FA5 in the west of the study area (Fig. 14C)
reflect the establishment of high near-bed shear
stress conditions due to strong currents. Such
currents may have sculpted offshore sand ridges
of a size below seismic resolution, as suggested in
some previous interpretations of the Sognefjord

Formation (Whitaker, 1984; Hellem et al., 1986).


Deposits of FA6 in the north-east of the study area
are interpreted as the delta-front deposits of a
subaerial delta, which formed at the river outlet
that supplied sediment to the entire delta system
(Figs 14B, 14C and 16A). No subaerial clinothems
are observed in seismic data in this portion of the
study area, probably because they are too small or
too uniform in their internal acoustic properties
to be resolved. The relatively localized subaerial
delta is inferred to pass along depositional strike
into a current-dominated subaqueous delta
(Figs 14B, 14C, 16A and 16B), resembling some
present-day subaqueous-delta configurations (e.g.
Cattaneo et al., 2003, 2007).
The majority of the diagnostic features proposed by Cattaneo et al. (2003) for the recognition
of ancient subaqueous deltas can be identified in
the Troll Field area, especially in its eastern part
(Table 2). In particular, uniform facies and exclusive presence of marine lithofacies and biofacies
are both self-evident in the examined data set.
The
subaqueous
clinoform
interpretation
explains the occurrence of well-developed, fully
submarine clinoform topsets (Figs 9, 10 and 14A)
and the absence of subaerial deposits. The lack of
very well-sorted sandstone around the clinoform
rollovers and topsets (Appendix S1), furthermore,
indicates that the processes which accumulated
and deposited the sediments were far less efficient than in shoreface environments, which are
subject to continuous surf-wave action. This
model also accounts for the occurrence of nearlinear clinoforms and facies association belts that
are consistently oriented sub-parallel to the
inferred shoreline and to many palaeocurrents
(Figs 8, 12 and 14). A similar stratigraphic architecture is observed in most modern compoundclinoform deltas, which contain subaqueous
clinoforms that strike parallel to the shoreline
and are fed by predominantly shore-parallel and
subordinate seaward-directed bottom currents
(e.g. Field & Roy, 1984; Driscoll & Karner, 1999;
Hernandez-Molina et al., 2000; Cattaneo et al.,
2003, 2007; Liu et al., 2007; Fernandez-Salas
et al., 2009; Walsh & Nittrouer, 2009; Mitchell
et al., 2012). Generally, due to the relatively constant and sustained (time-averaged) hydrodynamic conditions and sediment supply that occur
on many modern shelves over long-term periods
(1 to 10 years), recent subaqueous deltas tend to
show more uniform along-strike clinoform geometries than their subaerial counterparts, which
are typically highly variable due to autocyclic
delta lobe switching, erosion and delta retreat

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(Driscoll & Karner, 1999; Cattaneo et al., 2003;
Correggiari et al., 2005).
The steep foresets (up to 16) and narrow topsets shown by the studied clinoforms, particularly in the west, are significantly different from
recent muddy subaqueous deltas, but are consistent with delta-scale sand-rich subaqueous clinoforms (for example, Fig. 1C). In particular, the
occurrence of progressively more oblique and
steeper clinoforms towards the west is attributed
to the increase in the clinoform height and overall
grain size in a basinward direction. Slope gradients are typically proportional to sediment grain
size (Kenter, 1990; Orton & Reading, 1993). Furthermore, other delta-scale sand-prone subaqueous clinoforms that prograded onto a basinwardsloping sea floor are also observed to evolve
through time from gently dipping, sigmoidal to
steeper, more oblique geometries, without changing their grain size (e.g. Hern
andez-Molina et al.,
2000). This suggests that higher relief clinoforms
may be inherently steeper and more oblique than
lower relief clinoforms of similar grain size and
subject to comparable environmental forcing.
The subaqueous clinoform model is the preferred interpretation herein, because it can
explain all of the key observations. Similarities
and differences between the interpreted Sognefjord Formation delta and modern delta-scale subaqueous clinoforms are explored further in a later
section.

Forced regressive, subaqueous to subaerial


deltaic clinoforms
In the third model, clinothems in the east are
also interpreted to be deposited by a subaqueous
delta. The transition towards more sand-rich
deposits (FA4 and FA5) and steeper, oblique
clinoform geometries towards the west (Figs 6,
7, 9, 10 and 14A) is interpreted to result from a
downstepping, forced regressive trajectory pro-

379

duced by falling relative sea-level (i.e. falling


stage systems tract, sensu Plint & Nummedal,
2000), which juxtaposes subaqueous deltaic
clinothems in the east against subaerial deltaic
clinothems in the west. The observed increase
in clinoformforeset slope and associated
decrease in topset width during westward progradation is possibly consistent with progradation along a descending, forced regressive
trajectory (cf. Pirmez et al., 1998; Driscoll &
Karner, 1999; Adams & Schlager, 2000). The
forced regression model implies that during the
later stages of progradation, when deposition of
the western clinothems was taking place, the
eastern part of the Troll Field underwent subaerial exposure and erosion of any deposits that
had accumulated above fair-weather wave base,
such that only subaqueous clinothems are preserved here. During subsequent transgression,
clinoform topsets across the whole study area
were subject to erosion (ravinement, sensu
Swift, 1968) that removed any coastal plain
deposits that had accumulated during regression.
Although the model outlined above explains
the areal distribution of facies associations
(Fig. 14A), there is little evidence to support
the strongly descending, forced regressive trajectory that it implies. The widespread occurrence of well-developed subaqueous topsets
and sigmoidal foresets in the eastern Troll
Field (Figs 6D and 10) contradicts the interpretation of erosional truncation here, and there
is a paucity of regressive fluvial or marine erosion surfaces developed during falling relative
sea-level (for example, at the base of incised
valleys or sharp-based shorefaces; sensu Plint,
1988) (Fig. 5). Such forced regressive trajectories are typically characterized by offlapping
clinothems that thin progressively in a proximal to distal direction (Posamentier & Morris,
2000) but the opposite trend of proximal to

Fig. 16. (A) and (B) Idealized cross-sections oriented along depositional dip through the (A) northern and (B)
southern parts of the Troll Field and adjoining areas (Fig. 14B), illustrating the compound clinoform delta model
during early progradation of Series 3. The subaerial delta clinoforms shown in (B) are probably lying to the east
of the study area, but have not been observed in this study. (C) to (F) Idealized depositional-dip-oriented crosssections illustrating the temporal evolution of the Series 3 subaqueous clinoform set using the compound clinoform delta model (Fig. 15B). The model envisions westward-prograding clinoforms fed by currents flowing parallel to the clinoform strike. (C) During early progradation, subaqueous clinoforms prograded across the eastern part
of the Troll Field (Fig. 14B). (D) Subsequently, the clinoforms continued their westward progradation onto a sloping sea floor, synchronous with increases in coarse-grained sediment flux and alongshore current energy
(Fig. 14C). (E) Transgression is marked by abandonment of the clinoform set, and localized development of thin,
upward-coarsening successions that may contain sub-seismic clinoforms in the south-east (interval between surfaces labelled J52 TS and J52 MFS in Fig. 5A).
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A

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381

Table 2. Comparison of interpreted depositional systems in the lower Sognefjord Formation with criteria for
identifying ancient subaqueous deltas (as proposed by Cattaneo et al., 2003).
Diagnostic features of subaqueous shelf delta
clinoforms

Occurrence in lower Sognefjord Formation

1. Low-angle (<1) clinoform foresets arranged


within regressive clinoform set

Clinoform foresets are steeper, particularly in the


western part of Troll Field

2. Shore-detached offlap breaks

Present

3. Internal architecture more uniform than


that of subaerial deltas

Present

4. Exclusive occurrence of marine lithofacies


and benthic fauna in clinoform topset

Present

5. Relatively uniform grain size, due to long-distance


transport processes on the shelf

Absent in the west of the study area, present


in the south-east

6. Irregular coastline containing morphological barriers


or embayments, which may help to nucleate subaqueous
delta clinoforms

Coastline is inferred to lie to the east of the Troll


Field, and its configuration is unknown

distal clinothem thickening is observed in the


Troll Field (Figs 6, 9 and 10).

Coeval subaerial and subaqueous deltas in


separate structural domains
The fourth model envisages a delta with a subaerial topset in the western part of the Troll Field,
and separate but coeval delta-scale subaqueous
clinoforms in the east (Fig. 15C). The two deltas
were separated by one or more active extensional
faults that created a bathymetric barrier on the
sea floor. The subaerial and subaqueous deltas
could have been fed by different sediment input
points that were situated, respectively, to the
north-east and east of the Troll Field area. The
model requires that the subaerial deposits which
capped the western delta were subsequently
removed by transgressive erosion, and that the
subaqueous clinothems situated in the east were
part of a compound clinoform system whose
subaerial component was located outside of the
study area.
This model can, in principle, account for the
lateral facies variability observed in the lower
Sognefjord Formation (Fig. 14), and active rifting
has previously been inferred to have influenced
facies distributions in this interval, based on the
observation that facies association belts trend
sub-parallel to the structural grain of the northern Horda Platform (Stewart et al., 1995). However, isopach maps of the lower Sognefjord
Formation reveal only minor thickness variations across the study area (Fig. 11A), implying

that major faults defining present-day reservoir


structure (Fig. 2) were largely inactive during
deposition of this interval. Clinoform sets and
their component facies association belts in
Series 2 and Series 3 are observed to extend
across major faults (Fig. 9). The proposed structural control on sedimentation therefore appears
unlikely.

COMPARISON BETWEEN INTERPRETED


SOGNEFJORD FORMATION AND
MODERN DELTA-SCALE SUBAQUEOUS
CLINOFORMS
In the preferred model presented here, the lower
Sognefjord Formation is one of the first reported
pre-Quaternary case studies of submarine
coarse-grained sediment wedges (Figs 14B, 14C
and 15), analogous to present-day delta-scale
sand-prone subaqueous clinoforms (Fig. 1C).
Recent delta-scale subaqueous clinoforms and
Sognefjord Delta clinoforms share many geometrical characteristics: well-developed topsets,
shoreline-detached offlap breaks and linear to
gently curvilinear plan-view geometry (e.g. Field
& Roy, 1981; Cattaneo et al., 2003, 2007; Mitchell et al., 2012). Other examples of ancient distally steepened carbonate ramps of similar
geometry contain coarse-grained, cross-bedded,
carbonate sandstones deposited below wave
base (Pomar & Tropeano, 2001; Pomar et al.,
2002), in a context comparable to subaqueous
clinoform foresets.

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The subaqueous clinoforms interpreted in the


Sognefjord Formation (Figs 14B, 14C and 15) are
compared below to modern analogues. According
to Field & Roy (1981), four critical factors are
necessary for the formation of sand-prone deltascale subaqueous clinoforms: (i) a steep shoreface
profile; (ii) high-wave energy; (iii) coarse-grained
sediment supply; and (iv) a long time period of
relatively stable sea-level. These factors were all
arguably present during the deposition of the
Sognefjord Formation, when rivers discharged
sand to gravel grade sediments into a high-energy
marine basin. This is further discussed below.
A high-energy current and storm wave climate
is perhaps the most critical factor promoting the
outbuilding of delta-scale subaqueous clinoforms
(Swenson et al., 2005; Mitchell, 2012). The facies
succession in the lower Sognefjord Formation is
interpreted here to reflect a wave-dominated
and storm-dominated marine shelf. In particular, the common occurrence of hummocky
cross-stratified intervals, as well as cross-bedded
and coarse-grained strata below the fair-weather
wave base (Facies Associations 3 and 4), are all
suggestive of high-energy storms and bottom currents. The two dominant palaeocurrent trends
measured in the lower Sognefjord Formation,
one parallel to and the other perpendicular to the
clinoform regional strike (Fig. 8), are consistent
with the shore-parallel and seaward-directed
storm-related bottom currents that feed and
shape recent sand-prone subaqueous clinoforms
(cf. Field & Roy, 1981; Mitchell et al., 2012). In
recent sand-prone delta-scale subaqueous clinoforms, grain size at the rollover is proportional to
the near-bed shear stresses for the upper-10 percentile of waves (Mitchell, 2012). In the case of
the lower Sognefjord Formation, as the clinoforms in each series prograded from the inner
(eastern), sheltered part of the Horda Platform to
its outer (western) limit, which was open to
direct wave and storm approach (Figs 14 to 16),
they became progressively coarser grained (on
average, from fine-grained to medium-grained
sandstones at the rollover; Figs 6 and 7, Appendix S1) with higher, steeper foresets and narrower topsets (Figs 9 to 13). For sediments of
similar grain size to develop dune-scale crossbedding and upper flow regime, median near-bed
velocities around the rollover must have
exceeded,
respectively,
60 cm sec 1
and
1
80 cm sec . Present-day sand-prone subaqueous
clinoforms that are most similar to the Sognefjord
Formation in terms of grain size and cross-sectional geometries are those found offshore south-

ern Iberia, south-eastern Australia and off the


mouth of the River Salinas in Monterey Bay
(California) (Mitchell et al., 2012). The rollover
depths of these systems range from a minimum of
23 m to a maximum of 56 m, whereas the upper10 percentile waves recorded in these settings are
characterized by average periods and amplitudes
of, respectively, 7 to 12 s and 15 to 34 m. At the
rollover depths, near-bed shear stresses induced
by the upper-10 percentile waves are always
above the threshold of motion for fine to medium-grained sands (02 to 04 Pa), with the Monterey Bay shelf showing significantly higher
values than the threshold required to migrate
dunes (60 to 80 cm sec 1). It is likely that the
Sognefjord Formation subaqueous clinoforms
formed at comparable bathymetries and were subject to similar environmental conditions. Additional geostrophic bottom currents flowing
parallel to the clinoform bottomsets (cf. Adriatic
Sea; Cattaneo et al., 2007) may have been at least
partly due to the open connection between the
low salinity, colder waters of the Boreal Ocean in
the north and the high salinity waters of the warmer Tethys Ocean in the south (e.g. Dore, 1992;
Torsvik et al., 2002; Mutterlose, 2003), and by
funnelling through the narrow Greenland
Norwegian Seaway corridor (Mutterlose, 2003).
The second condition required to form a sandprone subaqueous clinoform system is a relative
sea-level stillstand (Field & Roy, 1981). For
example, Holocene systems started to form at the
attainment of present-day sea-level stand, following the sea-level rise at the end of the last glaciation. In the case of the lower Sognefjord
Formation, it is inferred that relative sea-level
was quite stable during the deposition of each
clinoform set (i.e. for ca 1 to 3 Myr), and that a
major regional transgression ended each progradational cycle. Within each clinoform set, the
presence of bedset boundaries similar to flooding surfaces could be due to minor relative sealevel rise, or to changes in sediment supply and
wave climate (cf. Storms & Hampson, 2005;
Smme et al., 2008). Rollover points of successive clinoforms reveal near-flat trajectories
(Fig. 6) which support the overall relative sealevel stillstand interpretation (cf. Helland-Hansen & Hampson, 2009). The Series 3 ascending
regressive clinoform trajectory implied by the
well correlation panel of Fig. 6 between wells
31/2-1 and 31/2-10 is partly an artefact of the
choice of datum surface. In fact, the J46 surface
was not continuously near-flat, because it had a
clinoformal morphology of its own. In particular,

2014 The Authors. Sedimentology 2014 International Association of Sedimentologists, Sedimentology, 62, 350388

Ancient sand-rich subaqueous delta


in proximity of the position of maximum regression of the Series 2 clinoform set (i.e. between
wells 31/2-1 and 31/2-10), the J46 surface foreset
is dipping towards the basin. Once the real
datum geometries are restored, as in Fig. 16, the
Series 3 clinoform trajectory is still persistently
near-horizontal or slightly descending between
wells 31/2-1 and 31/2-10. In addition, in proximity to well 31/2-10, an overall coarser rollover
grain size suggests an increase in the hydrodynamic energy (Fig. 6). This was possibly due to
waves and currents being deflected, focused and
amplified along the bathymetric high formed by
the underlying depositional surface, as is commonly observed in several marine settings (cf.
Cattaneo et al., 2007; Liu et al., 2007; Van
Landeghem et al., 2012). The descending clinoform trajectory (cf. Fig. 6) could be explained by
this inferred increase in wave energy, because
the depth of sand-prone subaqueous clinoform
rollovers is proportional to the amplitude and
frequency of the upper-10 percentile waves
(Mitchell et al., 2012). The interpretations presented above are consistent with the stratigraphic architecture of modern sand-prone
subaqueous clinoforms, in which clinoform-setscale motifs are determined by relative sea-level
changes, whereas intra-clinoform-set motifs
reflect changes in wave climate and sediment
supply (cf. Lobo et al., 2005).
Finally, sustained coarse-grained sediment
supply, as well as a steep shoreface morphology,
are also necessary pre-requisites to the formation
of coarse-grained subaqueous clinoforms (Field &
Roy, 1981). The Sognefjord Formation subaqueous clinoforms probably formed part of deltas
with overall compound clinoform morphology,
not unlike the present-day clinoforms developed
off the River Salinas in Monterey Bay (Mitchell
et al., 2012). Corresponding subaerial clinoforms
are inferred to lie beyond the eastern boundary of
the Troll Field. The low degree of rounding of
gravel-grade clasts in Facies Association 6 in the
north-eastern part of the Troll Field area, which
is interpreted to contain subaerial clinoforms in
the most proximal part of the Sognefjord Delta,
is suggestive of a short fluvial transport distance
(<25 km for angular and subangular quartz-rich
gravel clasts; Pettijohn, 1976). High sediment discharge, a small delta plain and/or the confinement of feeder rivers within valleys are also
required for river-fed gravel to be delivered
directly to the foresets of subaerial delta clinoforms (Orton & Reading, 1993). Small coarsegrained subaerial deltas of this kind are normally

383

associated with steep shorelines (3) and narrow


catchments (10 000 km2) of high relief (cf. Orton
& Reading, 1993; Burgess & Hovius, 1998). A
minority are sourced by larger catchments situated in cold climatic settings (for example, Colville Delta) or with erratic discharge patterns (for
example, Burdekin Delta) (Orton & Reading,
1993). Given the rift-margin location and likely
temperate climate (50N palaeolatitude in Greenhouse conditions; Torsvik et al., 2002; Mutterlose, 2003), the Sognefjord Delta was probably
supplied with coarse-grained sediment from a
steep catchment area that may have been subject
to erratic fluvial discharge. An alleged Bajocian
Bathonian cold or sub-freezing polar climate
(Price, 1999) may have also played a role in the
availability of abundant coarse-grained sediments
to fluvial erosion and transport during the Middle
to Late Jurassic.
CONCLUSIONS
The stratigraphic architecture of the lower
Sognefjord Formation in the Troll Field consists of
two regressivetransgressive packages (series)
bounded by regionally extensive major flooding
surfaces. Each series gradually thickens towards
the west until it reaches a maximum, beyond
which the upper bounding surface rolls over to
define an overall topsetforesetbottomset geometry. The seismically resolved internal architecture of each series consists of a clinoform set of
westward-dipping clinoforms that prograded
down-dip across a westward-deepening sea floor.
Clinoforms bound overall upward-coarsening successions imaged in cores and wireline logs. Clinoforms are linear to gently curvilinear in plan-view,
with a uniform NNESSW strike direction
throughout the Troll Field. However, the crosssectional geometry of the clinoforms varies across
the field, in the three palaeogeographical domains
summarized below.
1 Low relief (10 to 30 m), relatively low gradient (1 to 6) clinoforms with broad topsets occur
in the south-east of the field, and are characterized by bottomsets of bioturbated siltstones
(Facies Association 1) and foresets and topsets of
hummocky cross-stratified, well-sorted, finegrained sandstones (Facies Associations 2 and 3).
Coarser grained event beds resulting from intense
storms and/or river floods also occur in the foresets and topsets. The various bottomset, foreset
and topset facies were deposited below mean
fair-weather wave base. The interpreted setting

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384

S. Patruno et al.

and overall geometry of these clinoforms resemble those of recent sand-prone delta-scale subaqueous clinoforms, such as those found in steep
and narrow storm-dominated submarine shelves
off of Southern Iberia and southern California.
2 Further west, clinoforms exhibit progressively
greater relief (up to 60 m), steeper foresets (up to
16) and oblique and top-truncated geometries
with narrow topsets. The foresets of these clinoforms are dominated by cross-bedded, wellsorted, fine to coarse-grained sandstones (Facies
Associations 4 and 5) which reflect storm-induced
coarse-grained transport. Coastal plain deposits
and palaeosols indicating subaerial exposure are
absent. These clinoforms are interpreted as deltascale sand-prone subaqueous clinoforms developed in an area of increased marine current activity and greater proximity to coarse-grained,
possibly riverine, sediment influx than the southeast of the field.
3 In the north-east of the field, clinoforms and
other geomorphological features are below seismic resolution. However, both series are dominated by cross-bedded, well-sorted, fine to
coarse-grained sandstones (Facies Associations 4
and 5) and poorly sorted, very coarse-grained
gravity flow sandstones (Facies Association 6),
which are interpreted as proximal delta front
deposits within subaerial delta clinoforms.
By synthesizing data from all parts of the Troll
Field, deposition of each prograding clinoform
set was interpreted by fully subaqueous, NNE
SSW striking, elongated clinoforms that built
westwards across the shallow-marine Horda
Platform. These subaqueous clinoforms probably
formed part of deltas with overall compound
clinoform morphology; corresponding subaerial
clinoforms are inferred to lie beyond the eastern
boundary of the Troll Field. Subaqueous clinoform sets were supplied with sand-rich sediment by a river outlet near the north-east of the
Troll Field and exported further offshore during
storm events by the concomitant action of large
waves and related downwelling and shore-parallel bottom currents. Consistent with modern
examples, the laterally extensive, near-linear
plan-view clinoform morphology is inferred to
have been sculpted by the action of predominantly shore-parallel advective bottom currents.
Clinoforms in each series became progressively
coarser grained with higher, steeper foresets and
narrower topsets as the subaqueous delta prograded from the inner (eastern), sheltered part of
the Horda Platform to its outer (western) limit.

This was open to direct wave and storm


approach, and subject to wave and current
amplification near the bathymetric high formed
by the maximum-regression rollover of the previous, drowned clinoform set. The complete
absence of coastal plain deposits and evidence
of subaerial exposure supports the interpretation
of subaqueous clinoforms.
The model of a coarse-grained subaqueous
delta may be applicable to other ancient clinoform-bearing shallow-marine sandstones. This
work has outlined the typical seismic geomorphological, stratigraphicarchitectural and sedimentological features of a pre-Quaternary
example of sand-prone delta-scale subaqueous
clinoforms. It therefore provides a template that
allows the utilization of a well-known depositional model for recent systems to the ancient
stratigraphic record, where it has been overlooked until now. An important implication is
that, in the absence of a full facies and geomorphological characterization to provide context,
the use of the clinoform rollover point as a
proxy for the palaeoshoreline may lead to
erroneous predictions of relative sea-level history and related facies distributions. Clinoform
foresets should not be automatically associated
with shorefaceforeshore deposits, because the
actual shoreline break could be up to 60 m shallower than the subaqueous clinoform rollover
points, even if the clinothem is sand-dominated.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Dr Neil Mitchell (University of Manchester) and
Dr J.P. Walsh (East Carolina University), as well
as two anonymous reviewers, are gratefully
thanked for their constructive and insightful
comments. The authors also thank Statoil ASA
for providing data for this study, and Prof. Philip Allen (Imperial College), Dr Fabio Trincardi
(ISMAR-CNR), Paul Whipp (Statoil), Theresa
Lloyd-Lodden (Statoil), Prof. Howard Johnson
(Imperial College London), Nicholas Holgate
(Imperial College London) and Adam McCarthy
(Statoil) for help, wise discussions and comments. The authors also acknowledge the Troll
Field partners, Statoil ASA, Petoro AS, A/S
Norske Shell, Total E&P Norge AS and ConocoPhillips Skandinavia AS, for permission to publish this paper. Thanks also to Schlumberger
Limited for provision of Petrel seismic and well
interpretation software via an academic software
donation.

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Manuscript received 5 November 2013; revision


accepted 25 July 2014

Supporting Information
Additional Supporting Information may be found in
the online version of this article:
Appendix S1. Extended facies analysis.

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