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Fact Sheet 2013–3115

In-Place Oil Shale Resources in the Saline-Mineral and Saline-Leached Intervals, Parachute Creek Member of the Green River Formation, Piceance Basin, Colorado

By Justin E. Birdwell, Tracey J. Mercier, Ronald C. Johnson, Michael E. Brownfield, and John D. Dietrich

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (7.28 MB)Abstract

A recent U.S. Geological Survey analysis of the Green River Formation of the Piceance Basin in western Colorado shows that about 920 and 352 billion barrels of oil are potentially recoverable from oil shale resources using oil-yield cutoffs of 15 and 25 gallons per ton (GPT), respectively. This represents most of the high-grade oil shale in the United States. Much of this rich oil shale is found in the dolomitic Parachute Creek Member of the Green River Formation and is associated with the saline minerals nahcolite and halite, or in the interval where these minerals have been leached by groundwater. The remaining high-grade resource is located primarily in the underlying illitic Garden Gulch Member of the Green River Formation. Of the 352 billion barrels of potentially recoverable oil resources in high-grade (≥25 GPT) oil shale, the relative proportions present in the illitic interval, non-saline R-2 zone, saline-mineral interval, leached interval (excluding leached Mahogany zone), and Mahogany zone were 3.1, 4.5, 36.6, 23.9, and 29.9 percent of the total, respectively. Only 2 percent of high-grade oil shale is present in marginal areas where saline minerals were never deposited.

First posted January 21, 2014

For additional information contact:
Director, Central Energy Resources Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Box 25046, MS-939
Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0046

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Suggested citation:

Birdwell, J.E., Mercier, T.J., Johnson, R.C., Brownfield, M.E., and Dietrich, J.D., 2014, In-place oil shale resources in the saline-mineral and saline-leached intervals, Parachute Creek Member of the Green River Formation, Piceance Basin, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2013–3115, 6 p.,

ISSN 2327-6916 (print)

ISSN 2327-6932 (online)

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