Integrated ichnologic, sedimentologic, and stratigraphic studies of cores and well logs from Lower Pennsylvanian oil and gas reservoirs (lower Morrow Sandstone, southwest Kansas) allow distinction between fluvio-estuarine and open marine deposits in the Gentzler and Arroyo fields. The fluvio-estuarine facies assemblage is composed of both interfluve and valley-fill deposits, encompassing a variety of depositional environments such as fluvial channel, interfluve paleosol, bay head delta, estuary bay, restricted tidal flat, intertidal channel, and estuary mouth. Deposition in a brackish-water estuarine valley is supported by the presence of a low diversity, opportunistic, impoverished marine ichnofaunal assemblage dominated by infaunal structures, representing an example of a mixed, depauperate Cruziana and Skolithos ichnofacies. Overall distribution of ichnofossils along the estuarine valley was mainly controlled by the salinity gradient, with other parameters, such as oxygenation, substrate and energy, acting at a more local scale. The lower Morrow estuarine system displays the classical tripartite division of wave-dominated estuaries (i.e. seaward-marine sand plug, fine-grained central bay, and sandy landward zone), but tidal action is also recorded. The estuarine valley displays a northwest-southeast trend, draining to the open sea in the southeast. Recognition of valley-fill sandstones in the lower Morrow has implications for reservoir characterization. While the open marine model predicts a "layer-cake" style of facies distribution as a consequence of strandline shoreline progradation, identification of valley-fill sequences points to more compartmentalized reservoirs, due to the heterogeneity created by valley incision and subsequent infill. The open-marine facies assemblage comprises upper, middle, and lower shoreface; offshore transition; offshore; and shelf deposits. In contrast to the estuarine assemblage, open marine ichnofaunas are characterized by a high diversity of biogenic structures representing the activity of a benthic fauna developed under normal salinity conditions. Trace fossil and facies analyses allow environmental subdivision of the shoreface-offshore successions and suggest deposition in a weakly storm-affected nearshore area. An onshore-offshore replacement of the Skolithos ichnofacies by the Cruziana ichnofacies is clearly displayed. The lower Morrow fluvio-estuarine valley was incised during a drop of sea level coincident with the Mississippian-Pennsylvanian transition, but was mostly filled during a subsequent transgression. The transgressive nature of the estuarine infill is further indicated by the upward replacement of depauperate brackish-water trace fossil assemblages by the open-marine Cruziana ichnofacies. Additional stratal surfaces of allostratigraphic significance identified within the estuary include the bayline surface, the tidal ravinement surface, the wave ravinement surface, and a basinwide flooding surface recording inundation of the valley interfluves. A younger sequence boundary within the lower Morrow is also recorded in the Gentzler field at the base of a forced regression shoreface, demarcated by the firmground Glossifungites ichnofacies, indicating a rapid basinward facies migration during a sea-level drop. Trace fossil models derived from the analysis of Mesozoic and Cenozoic reservoirs are generally applicable to the study of these late Paleozoic reservoirs. Pennsylvanian brackish-water facies differ ichnologically from their post-Paleozoic counterparts, however, in that they have: (1) lower trace fossil diversity, (2) lower degree of bioturbation, (3) scarcity of crustacean burrows, (4) absence of firmground suites, and (5) absence of ichnotaxa displaying specific architectures designed to protect the tracemaker from salinity fluctuations. Morrow open-marine ichnofaunas closely resemble their post-Paleozoic equivalents. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Sequence stratigraphic and sedimentologic significance of biogenic structures from a late Paleozoic marginal- to open-marine reservoir, Morrow Sandstone, subsurface of southwest Kansas, USA