Palaeogeography of a Mid Miocene Turbidite Complex, Moki Formation, Taranaki Basin, New Zealand.
The Moki Formation, Taranaki Basin, New Zealand, is a Mid Miocene (Late Altonian to Early Lillburnian) sand-rich turbidite complex bounded above and below by the massive bathyal mudstone of the Manganui Formation. The Moki Formation is a proven hydrocarbon reservoir with its stacked, thick, tabular sandstone packages totalling more than 300 m in places. Previous regional studies of the formation have been based primarily on well data and resulted in varying palaeogeographic interpretations. This study, restricted to the southern offshore region of the basin, better constrains the spatial and temporal development of the Moki Formation by combining well data with seismic interpretation to identify key stratal geometries within the sediment package. Nearly 30,000 km of 2D seismic reflection profiles and two 3D surveys, along with data from 18 wells and three cores were reviewed and key sections analysed in detail. Seismic facies have been identified which provide significant insights into the structure, distribution and progressive development of the Moki Formation. These include: a clearly defined eastern limit of the fan complex, thinning and fining of the distal turbidite complex onto the basin floor in the north and west, evidence of fan lobe switching, spectacular meandering channel systems incised into the formation at seismic scales, and the coeval palaeoshelf-slope break in the south east of the basin. In addition, a Latest Lillburnian / Waiauan turbidite complex has been mapped with large feeder, fan and bypassing channels traced. This study presents an improved palaeogeographic interpretation of the Moki Formation and the younger, Latest Lillburnian / Waiauan-aged, turbidite complex. This interpretation shows that during the Late Altonian, sandstone deposition was localised to small fan bodies in the vicinity of Maui-4 to Moki-1 wells. A bathymetric deepening during the Clifdenian is identified, which appears to have occurred concurrently as the establishment of the Moki Formation fan system, centred around the southern and central wells. With continued sediment supply to the basin floor, the fan system prograded markedly northward and spilled onto the Western Stable Platform during the early Lillburnian. Sand influx to the bathyal basin floor abruptly ceased and large volumes of mud were deposited. By the Waiauan stage, sands were again deposited at bathyal depths on fan bodies and carried to greater depths through a complex bypassing channel system.