Geology and total petroleum systems of the Paradox Basin, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona

Mountain Geologist
By: , and 



The geological model for the development of the Total Petroleum Systems (TPSs) within the Paradox Basin formed the foundation of the recent U.S. Geological Survey assessment of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources in the basin. Five TPSs were defined, of which three have known production and two are hypothetical. These TPSs are based on geologic elements of the basin and the potential development of Precambrian, Devonian, Pennsylvanian, Permian-Mississippian, and Cretaceous source rock intervals.

The most studied source intervals are the Pennsylvanian black shales that were deposited during relative high stands in an otherwise evaporitic basin. These black shales are the source for most of the discovered hydrocarbons in the Paradox Basin. A second oil type can be traced to either a Mississippian or Permian source rock to the west, and therefore requires long-distance migration to explain its presence in the basin. Upper Cretaceous continental to nearshore-marine sandstones are interbedded with coal beds that have recognized coalbed methane potential. Precambrian and Devonian TPSs are considered hypothetical, as both are known to have organic-rich intervals, but no discovered hydrocarbons have been definitively typed back to either of these units.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Geology and total petroleum systems of the Paradox Basin, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona
Series title Mountain Geologist
Volume 51
Issue 2
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists
Publisher location Denver, CO
Contributing office(s) Central Energy Resources Science Center
Description 21 p.
First page 119
Last page 139
Country United States
State Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah
Other Geospatial Paradox Basin
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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