September 5-7, 2023: 17th Bathurst Meeting of Carbonate Sedimentologists, Naples, Italy

The topic of my poster, “Distribution over geologic time of seismic-scale, early-karst features in shallow-water carbonates”, is part of a larger study I have been carrying on for more than a year. The goal of this research is to investigate possible patterns and trends in the seismic expression of shallow-water carbonates throughout geologic time, from Precambrian to present day (see 2022 AAPG conference below on this page).

Through the study of a database of more than 700 publications, several seismic criteria, or parameters, characterizing 296 shallow-water carbonate systems of different ages, with a worldwide distribution of 159 sedimentary basins, have been analyzed. In this poster, the results regarding the seismic criterion associated with the occurrence/absence of early-karst features are shown.


Karst-related features are among the most used diagnostic criteria to recognize carbonate deposits in seismic data. Some of these features are  related to large-scale, early post-depositional dissolution processes, most often by meteoric water.  However, are these seismically resolvable, early karst features uniformly distributed along geologic time or have they occurred more frequently in specific ages?

296 shallow-water carbonate systems of different ages, spanning from Precambrian to present, with a worldwide distribution of 159 sedimentary basins, have been studied. Conclusions suggest that seismically resolvable, early karst features, as defined above, are more common in some geologic ages and sedimentary settings than others.

Specifically, these features are more likely to be observed in icehouse, non-ramp, non-pinnacle, carbonate deposits. Even though subaerial exposure related to 4th and higher order eustatic cycles has been usually so far associated karstic products of small to moderate size, this study suggests that icehouse, high-frequency, eustatic movements, could actually contribute to large-scale, diagenetic, dissolution processes, to a greater extent than it has been speculated so far. Such a conclusion can be of significant help in de-risking carbonate exploration activity.

June 22-23, 2022: AAPG “Carbonate Sequences and Reservoirs” conference in Naples, Italy

The subject of my speech was the “Seismic Expression of Shallow-Water Carbonate Structures Through Geologic Time”.

I found particularly interesting to investigate how the evolution of the biota of carbonate builders through time, from Proterozoic to present day, has affected the appearance of carbonate structures and how this, in turn, has reflected on their seismic expression.

Furthermore, I think this is an additional approach to keep decreasing exploration risks and this is why this topic has been integrated in my carbonate seismic interpretation course as an optional module.

A manuscript with the results of this investigation, which, to date, has required the study of more than 700 publications, has been sent out for publication.



Depositional and early diagenetic processes in shallow-water carbonate deposits have undergone significant variations through geologic time, from Proterozoic to recent times. This has reflected in a sequence of carbonate structures characterized by different shapes, sizes and identifying features depending, among other factors, on the age of deposition and the carbonate factory associated with a specific geologic period. These variations, which have been extensively studied in the literature, however not from a seismic interpretation point of view, have a formidable impact on the display of these structures in reflection seismic data. This study aims at providing an overall, albeit not conclusive, picture of how the seismic expression of shallow-water carbonate structures has evolved through time. Several examples from different geologic ages, from Proterozoic to present day, are shown along with a proposal of a qualitative ranking based on some critical discriminating seismic criteria, which is applied to each of the geologic times considered.

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Slide 27 of 33 (Oligocene age)

Field Seminar


I also joined an interesting fieldtrip, associated with the AAPG event and run by Alessandro Iannace, Stefano Tavani and Mariano Parente of the University of Naples, on fractured platform carbonates of the Southern Apennines. I believe a continuous expertise increase and update is critical in our professional activity.

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