2019 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition:

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Anatomy of a Paleozoic Super Basin — The Permian Basin, USA: Geology, Depositional History, Basin Evolution, and Reservoir Development


The Permian Basin is the largest and most productive hydrocarbon-bearing basin in North America and one of the largest in the world - truly a super basin - with a thickness of more than 25,000 ft (7,600 m) of Paleozoic rocks, more than 500,000 wells drilled, and 39 Billion barrels of oil produced. Over the years since its discovery in the 1920s, countless papers and reports have added to our knowledge of the geology. However, very few have attempted a comprehensive synthesis of the geology and depositional history and none have done so in recent years. To accomplish this, we have collectively characterized 16 major depositional systems, from Ordovician through Permian, using existing and new data. These studies include documentation of the facies, fauna, stratigraphy, depositional environments, diagenesis, and reservoir development and distribution. The goal of this work is to provide an up-to-date synthesis of what is known about the geology of the basin and its depositional history. These detailed studies form the basis for interpreting the depositional history and evolution of the basin. Key elements of this history are maps of present facies distribution and paleogeography for each depositional system and the recognition of nine major depositional episodes. Each episode is defined by an understanding of the interrelationships between sediment supply, depositional environments, and tectonics. The detailed information provided by this work and separate but related syntheses of the fauna, biostratigraphy, structure and tectonics, Precambrian terranes, gravity and magnetics, and reservoir development is the most comprehensive synthesis of Permian Basin geology in 60 years and will provide an better understanding of the formation and evolution of the basin that can be used as a basis for more focused targeting and extraction of oil and gas and for comparisons to other Paleozoic basins around the world. The results of all of this work will be published as 26 papers in an AAPG Memoir coming soon.