To evaluate the Madison Limestone and associated rocks as potential sources for water supplies in the Powder River Basin and adjacent areas, an understanding of the geologic framework of these units, their lithologic facies patterns, the distribution of porosity zones, and the relation between porosity development and stratigraphic facies is necessary.
Regionally the Madison is mainly a fossiliferous limestone. However, in broad areas of the eastern Rocky Mountains and western Great Plains, dolomite is a dominant constituent and in places the Madison is almost entirely dolomite. Within these areas maximum porosity development is found and it seems to be related to the coarser crystalline dolomite facies. The porosity development is associated with tabular and fairly continuous crystalline dolomite beds separated by non-porous limestones.
The maximum porosity development in the Bighorn Dolomite, as in the Madison, is directly associated with the occurrence of a more coarsely crystalline sucrosic dolomite facies. Well data indicate, however, that where the Bighorn is present in the deeper parts of the Powder River Basin, it may be dominated by a finer crystalline dolomite facies of low porosity.
The 'Winnipeg Sandstone' is a clean, generally well-sorted, medium-grained sandstone. It shows good porosity development in parts of the northern Powder River Basin and northwestern South Dakota. Because the sandstone is silica-cemented and quartzitic in areas of deep burial, good porosity is expected only where it is no deeper than a few thousand feet.
The Flathead Sandstone is a predominantly quartzose, slightly feldspathic sandstone, commonly cemented with iron oxide. Like the 'Winnipeg Sandstone,' it too is silica-cemented and quartzitic in many places so that its porosity is poor in areas of deep burial.
Illustrations in this report show the thickness, percent dolomite, and porosity-feet for the Bighorn Dolomite and the Madison Limestone and its subdivisions. The porosity-feet for the 'Winnipeg' and Flathead Sandstones and four regional geologic sections are also shown.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Subsurface geology and porosity distribution, Madison Limestone and underlying formations, Powder River basin, northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana and adjacent areas
16 maps and 5 cross sections ;on 21 sheets 92 x 121 cm.; 32 p.