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ABSTRACT: Paleostructural Control of Dakota Hydrocarbon Accumulations on Southern Moxa Arch, Southwest Wyoming and Northeast Utah

Steve J. Blanke, Kurt D. Reisser

Production from the Lower Cretaceous Dakota Formation along the southern Moxa arch shows a number of anomalies in distribution and hydrocarbon character that can best be explained by complex interplay of the arch's depositional, structural, diagenetic, and thermal histories. The development of the Western Overthrust belt and its foreland basin largely controlled the orientation of the Dakota fluvial and deltaic systems. Differences in sandstone trends between the upper and lower Dakota resulted in different migration pathways and loci of oil and gas accumulations. Isochore mapping indicates that the onset of major structural growth of the Moxa arch began contemporaneous with deformation in the Overthrust belt during the Cretaceous Campanian. After early migration of hydro arbons into the resulting structural/stratigraphic traps, subsequent diagenesis of Dakota sandstones, particularly in the downdip water legs of the reservoirs, effectively sealed the accumulations in their initial paleostructural position. Paleocene and Eocene structural compression reversed the original northward plunge of the arch and rotated it slightly to the east into its present structural configuration. Hydrodynamically driven convective heat flow has resulted in varying geothermal regimes within the area, increasing heat flow along most of the arch's crest, while cooling its southern portion. This phenomenon has affected gas-oil ratios and API gravities by enhancing or retarding thermal maturation of the trapped hydrocarbons.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990