AAPG ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION
Making the Next Giant Leap in Geosciences
April 10-13, 2011, Houston, Texas, USA
Stratigraphic Architecture of Shallow-Marine to Coastal-Plain Parasequences: Lower Williams Fork Formation, Southeastern Piceance Basin, Colorado
(1) Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.
(2) Enerplus Resources, Denver, CO.
The stratigraphic architecture of the lower Williams Fork Formation in the southeastern Piceance Basin was assessed by defining facies and facies associations in cores and outcrop exposures and then developing relationships between these facies and subsurface well-log signatures. The lower Williams Fork lies stratigraphically above the Rollins Sandstone Member (Iles Fm.) and consists of several coal zones, two marine sandstone units informally named the middle and upper sandstones, and coastal-plain to alluvial-plain deposits. Parasequences were identified and correlated in the subsurface to characterize the geometries and depositional nature of marine sandstones in the middle and upper sandstones, and their relationship with associated coal zones.
The lower Williams Fork Formation in the area represents a transition from coastal-plain to marine environments of deposition. Wave-dominated shoreface parasequences include a coarsening-upward vertical succession of offshore, distal to proximal lower shoreface and upper shoreface strata. Parasequences are mappable by the correlation of flooding surfaces that bound marine to non-marine successions of strata.
Shoreface sandstones transition landward into paludal environments and farthest landward into environments of deposition that are characterized by low net:gross coastal-plain deposits containing isolated channel sandstones and floodplain strata. This relationship appears to correspond to the paleogeographic movement of environments caused by movement of the position of the marine shoreline in association with changes in relative sea level. Tidally influenced deposits and brackish-water fauna exist landward of the marine shorelines within coal zones, and indicate a fluctuating fresh water and marine-influence in the lower coastal plain and the presence of bays behind transgressive shoreline deposits.
Two transgressive-regressive cycles are identified within the lower Williams Fork Formation and are composed of retrogradational and progradational parasequence sets of the middle and upper sandstones. Differential compaction of underlying sediments generates variation in accommodation, which plays a major role in the deposition and preservation of marine sandstones within the middle sandstone 1 and middle sandstone 2 parasequences. Middle sandstone 3 and middle sandstone 4 are not influenced by differential compaction because these parasequences are deposited over relatively homogeneous shoreface deposits.