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Vitrinite reflectance data for the Permian Basin, west Texas and southeast New Mexico

Open-File Report 2005-1171

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Abstract

This report presents a compilation of vitrinite reflectance (Ro) data based on analyses of samples of drill cuttings collected from 74 boreholes spread throughout the Permian Basin of west Texas and southeast New Mexico (fig. 1). The resulting data consist of 3 to 24 individual Ro analyses representing progressively deeper stratigraphic units in each of the boreholes (table 1). The samples, Cambrian-Ordovician to Cretaceous in age, were collected at depths ranging from 200 ft to more than 22,100 ft.

The R0 data were plotted on maps that depict three different maturation levels for organic matter in the sedimentary rocks of the Permian Basin (figs. 2-4). These maps show depths at the various borehole locations where the R0 values were calculated to be 0.6 (fig. 2), 1.3 (fig. 3), and 2.0 (fig. 4) percent, which correspond, generally, to the onset of oil generation, the onset of oil cracking, and the limit of oil preservation, respectively.

The four major geologic structural features within the Permian Basin–Midland Basin, Delaware Basin, Central Basin Platform, and Northwest Shelf (fig. 1) differ in overall depth, thermal history and tectonic style. In the western Delaware Basin, for example, higher maturation is observed at relatively shallow depths, resulting from uplift and eastward basin tilting that began in the Mississippian and ultimately exposed older, thermally mature rocks. Maturity was further enhanced in this basin by the emplacement of early and mid-Tertiary intrusives. Volcanic activity also appears to have been a controlling factor for maturation of organic matter in the southern part of the otherwise tectonically stable Northwest Shelf (Barker and Pawlewicz, 1987). Depths to the three different Ro values are greatest in the eastern Delaware Basin and southern Midland Basin. This appears to be a function of tectonic activity related to the Marathon-Ouachita orogeny, during the Late-Middle Pennsylvanian, whose affects were widespread across the Permian Basin. The Central Basin Platform has been a positive feature since the mid to-late Paleozoic, during which time sedimentation occurred along its flanks. This nonsubsidence, along with the lack of supplemental heating (volcanism), implies lower maturation levels.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Vitrinite reflectance data for the Permian Basin, west Texas and southeast New Mexico
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
2005-1171
Edition:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
2005
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Description:
25 p.
Country:
United States
State:
New Mexico, Texas
Other Geospatial:
Permian Basin