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Paleovalleys incised into the Triassic Spearfish Formation (Chugwater equivalent) are filled with a vertical sequence of eolian, estuarine, and marine sandstones of the Middle Jurassic (Bathonian age) Canyon Springs Sandstone Member of the Sundance Formation. An outcrop exemplifying this is located at Red Canyon in the southern Black Hills, Fall River County, South Dakota. These paleovalleys locally have more than 300 ft of relief and are as much as several miles wide. Because they slope in a westerly direction, and Jurassic seas transgressed into the area from the west there was greater marine-influence and more stratigraphic complexity in the subsurface, to the west, as compared to the Black Hills outcrops. In the subsurface two distinctive reservoir sandstone beds within the Canyon Springs Sandstone Member fill the paleovalleys. These are the eolian lower Canyon Springs unit (LCS) and the estuarine upper Canyon Springs unit (UCS), separated by the marine "Limestone Marker" and estuarine "Brown Shale". The LCS and UCS contain significant proven hydrocarbon reservoirs in Wyoming (about 500 MMBO in-place in 9 fields, 188 MMBO produced through 1993) and are prospective in western South Dakota, western Nebraska and northern Colorado. Also prospective is the Callovian-age Hulett Sandstone Member which consists of multiple prograding shoreface to foreshore parasequences, as interpreted from the Red Canyon locality. Petrographic, outcrop and subsurface studies demonstrate the viability of both the Canyon Springs Sandstone and Hulett Sandstone members as superior hydrocarbon reservoirs in both stratigraphic and structural traps. Examples of fields with hydrocarbon production from the Canyon Springs in paleovalleys include Lance Creek field (56 MMBO produced) and the more recently discovered Red Bird field (300 MBO produced), both in Niobrara County, Wyoming. At Red Bird field the primary exploration target was the Pennsylvanian "Leo sands" of the Minnelusa Formation, and production from the Canyon Springs was not anticipated. Canyon Springs reservoirs are easily bypassed because they are relatively unconsolidated, underpressured, low-resistivity, and difficult to evaluate from petrophysics, drill-stem tests, or well cuttings.
Additional Publication Details
Middle Jurassic incised valley fill (eolian/estuarine) and nearshore marine petroleum reservoirs, Powder River Basin