A review of Arbuckle Group strata in Kansas from a sedimentologic perspective: Insights for future research from past and recent studies




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Arbuckle Group and equivalent-age rocks (Cambrian and Lower Ordovician) represent an important record of sediment deposition in the history of the North American continent and they contain important accumulations of hydrocarbons (oil and gas) and base metal deposits. This is true for Kansas as well where Arbuckle strata account for approximately 40% of the volume of produced petroleum and known reserves. However, in comparison to their counterparts in other areas, such as the Ellenburger and Knox, Arbuckle rocks in Kansas remain relatively understudied, especially with respect to sedimentology and diagenesis. The Arbuckle is present in the subsurface in most of Kansas and is absent only in areas of northeastern and northwestern Kansas, and over ancient uplifts and buried Precambrian highs. Arbuckle rocks thicken from north to south and are up to 1,390 feet in the southeastern corner of Kansas. Arbuckle Group and equivalent-age rocks from Kansas and surrounding areas are similar, consisting of platform deposits dominated by ramp-type subtidal to peritidal carbonates (mostly dolomitized) which can be subdivided into cycles, less than 0.5 m to 40 m thick, based on facies type and depositional patterns. Recent studies from central Kansas show that major depositional facies consist of coarse-grained packstones/ grainstones, fine-grained packstones/wackestones/mudstones, stromatolites-thrombolites, intraclastic conglomerate and breccia, and shale. In addition, secondary features include dolomitization, breccia, fracture, and conglomerate related to early subaerial exposure and later karst, burial or structural processes, silicification, and local mineralization. Arbuckle and equivalent strata in the Midcontinent were affected by prolonged subaerial exposure that began immediately after Arbuckle deposition, forming the sub-Tippecanoe to sub-Absaroka unconformity. Favorable reservoir qualities generally are thought to be related directly to basement structural elements and karstic features from the post-Arbuckle subaerial exposure event. Although most production in Kansas is from the top of the Arbuckle, some early and recent studies indicate that the Arbuckle is not a simple homogeneous reservoir, that complex vertical and lateral heterogeneities exist including both nonporous and porous horizons in the formation, and that high probability exist of locating additional oil with improved reservoir characterization. Although fracture and vuggy porosity contribute importantly to the production of Arbuckle strata, recent observations indicate a significant amount of porosity (about 50%) in many cores is controlled by depositional facies and dolomitization. Studies of Arbuckle and equivalent-age strata from other areas indicate that Arbuckle strata and diagenetic processes are complex and that porosity/permeability patterns are related to a number of processes. These studies underscore the importance of continued study of Arbuckle rocks in Kansas for improved reservoir characterization. Ongoing and future geologic studies of Arbuckle rocks in Kansas are being directed toward: (1) Continued sedimentologic, stratigraphic, and sequence stratigraphic analyses incorporating core, well log, and seismic data; (2) petrophysical studies. Initial studies indicate that core plug petrophysical properties are controlled by matrix grain size and that upscalling from plug to whole-core and drill-stem test data can identify and quantify the relative contribution of karstic, fracture and matrix porosity and permeability: (3) Regional and local structural analyses and mapping of the upper Arbuckle surface to provide more details on the contribution of structural features and karst paleogeomorphology to reservoir character; and (4) diagenetic and geochemical studies focusing especially on the timing of, and processes associated with, dolomitization and karstification events and their contributions to creating or occluding porosity.

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A review of Arbuckle Group strata in Kansas from a sedimentologic perspective: Insights for future research from past and recent studies
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