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Scientific Investigations Map 3304

Detailed North-South Cross Section Showing Environments of Deposition, Organic Richness, and Thermal Maturities of Lower Tertiary Rocks in the Uinta Basin, Utah

By Ronald C. Johnson

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (13.6 MB)Abstract

The Uinta Basin of northeast Utah has produced large amounts of hydrocarbons from lower Tertiary strata since the 1960s. Recent advances in drilling technologies, in particular the development of efficient methods to drill and hydraulically fracture horizontal wells, has spurred renewed interest in producing hydrocarbons from unconventional low-permeability dolomite and shale reservoirs in the lacustrine, Eocene Green River Formation. The Eocene Green River Formation was deposited in Lake Uinta, a long-lived saline lake that occupied the Uinta Basin, the Piceance Basin to the east, and the intervening Douglas Creek arch. The focus of recent drilling activity has been the informal Uteland Butte member of the Green River Formation and to a much lesser extent the overlying R-0 oil shale zone of the Green River Formation. Initial production rates ranging from 500 to 1,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day have been reported from the Uteland Butte member from horizontal well logs that are as long as 4,000 feet (ft);. The cross section presented here extends northward from outcrop on the southern margin of the basin into the basin’s deep trough, located just south of the Uinta Mountains, and transects the area where this unconventional oil play is developing. The Monument Butte field, which is one of the fields located along this line of section, has produced hydrocarbons from conventional sandstone reservoirs in the lower part of the Green River Formation and underlying Wasatch Formation since 1981. A major fluvial-deltaic system entered Lake Uinta from the south, and this new line of section is ideal for studying the effect of the sediments delivered by this drainage on hydrocarbon reservoirs in the Green River Formation. The cross section also transects the Greater Altamont-Bluebell field in the deepest part of the basin, where hydrocarbons have been produced from fractured, highly overpressured marginal lacustrine and fluvial reservoirs in the Green River, Wasatch, and North Horn Formations since 1970. Datum for the cross section is sea level so that hydrocarbon source rocks and reservoir rocks could be integrated into the structural framework of the basin.

First posted August 11, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Director, Central Energy Resources Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Box 25046, Mail Stop 939
Denver, CO 80225
http://energy.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

Johnson, R.C., Detailed north-south cross section showing environments of deposition, organic richness, and thermal maturities of lower Tertiary rocks in the Uinta Basin, Utah: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3304, 12 p., 1 sheet, https://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sim3304.

ISSN 2329-132 (online)



Contents

Introduction

Stratigraphic Subdivisions of the Green River Formation

Variations in Thermal Maturity Using Rock-Eval and Vitrinite Reflectance

Fischer Assay Analysis

Pressure Gradients

Discussion


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