This report presents preliminary results of a mineralogic and diagenetic study of some low-permeability sandstones from measured surface sections and cores obtained from drill holes in the Piceance Creek Basin of northwestern Colorado. A documentation of the mineralogy and diagenetic history will aid in the exploration for natural gas and in the development of recovery technology in these low-permability sandstones. These sandstones are in the nonmarine upper part of the Mesaverde Formation (or Group) of Late Cretaceous age and are separated from overlying lower Tertiary rocks by a major regional unconformity. Attention is focused on the sandstone units of the Ohio Creek Member, which directly underlies the unconformity; however, comparisons between the mineralogy of the Ohio Creek strata and that of the underlying sandstone units are made whenever possible. The Ohio Creek is a member of the Hunter Canyon Formation (Mesaverde Group) in the southwestern part of the basin, and the Mesaverde Formation in the southern and central parts of the basin. The detrital mineralogy is fairly constant throughout all of these nonrnarine Cretaceous sandstone units; however, in the southeastern part of the basin, there is an increase in percentage of feldspar, quartzite, and igneous rock fragments in sandstones of the Ohio Creek Member directly underlying the unconformity. In the southwestern part of the basin, sandstones of the Ohio Creek Member are very weathered and are almost-entirely comprised of quartz, chert, and kaolinite. A complex diagenetic history, partly related to the overlying unconformity, appears to be responsible for transforming these sandstones into potential gas reservoirs. The general diagenetic sequence for the entire Upper Cretaceous interval studied is interpreted to be (early to late): early(?) calcite cement, chlorite, quartz overgrowths, calcite cement, secondary porosity, analcime (surface only), kaolinite and illite, and late carbonate cements. Authigenic high-iron chlorite, which occurs on grain rims and in pore throats, is primarily responsible for the low-permeability of the subsurface sandstones of the Ohio Creek Member in the center of the basin. Kaolinite is the most abundant pore-filling authigenic clay in these sandstones, from the southwestern part of the basin and is responsible for their distinctive white-weathering color in outcrop. In the sandstones below the Ohio Creek Member, however, chlorite and kaolinite occur locally, and authigenic calcite and illite are more abundant. The occurrence and distribution of secondary porosity is one of the most important aspects of the diagenetic history of these sandstones. It is present as moldic intra- and intergranular porosity, as well as microporosity among authigenic clay pariicles. Although present locally in most sandstone units, secondary porosity is particularly common in the uppermost sandstone units and is interpreted to have formed primarily asa result ofweathering during the time represented by the Cretaceous-Tertiary unconformity.
Additional publication details
Mineralogy and diagenesis of low-permeability sandstones of Late Cretaceous age, Piceance Creek Basin, northwestern Colorado