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Discovery of a Probable Meteorite Impact Site of Late Cambrian – Lower Ordovician age in the Permian Basin, Crockett County, Texas, and its Implications for Hydrocarbon Exploration

Steven J. Maione¹

¹Trek Oil and Gas


Horizon mapping of a 3-D seismic survey has led to the discovery of a probable meteorite impact site of Late Cambrian – Lower Ordovician age at a depth of about 9,200 ft (2,804 m) atop the Bouscaren uplift in northwest Crockett County, Texas. The impact site is an oval-shaped simple crater, elongated along a northeast to southwest axis 2,150 ft x 1,550 ft (1.32 km x 0.96 km), and about 450 ft (0.28 km) deep. The crater is located within a petroleum-rich basin on an uplift that is bound on the north side by large normal faults, and is capped by the Ellenburger formation of Lower Ordovician age that is about 1300 ft (396 m) thick. No well has penetrated more than 350 ft (107 m) into the Ellenburger formation on the uplift, leaving the impact breccia associated with the meteor crater undrilled. Petroleum that migrated from one of the basin's premier source rocks (Simpson Group, Middle Ordovician age) likely migrated across a normal fault from the north and entered the shattered and brecciated rocks associated with the impact. Petroleum occurs immediately above the crater in the Ellenburger formation, as well as Strawn sandstones, indicating migrated oil has entered the Paleozoic rocks found on the structure. It is not often that a meteorite impact crater involving shattered basement rock and ejecta is positioned ideally for its petroleum potential, but the Bouscaren crater is a good candidate. Depth to the brecciated and fractured basement rock is very reasonable for the Permian Basin (9,200 to 9,700 ft; 2,804 to 2,956 m), suggesting that the Bouscaren impact crater can be tested at an acceptable cost.


AAPG Datapages/Search and Discovery Article #90190©AAPG Southwest Section Annual Convention, Midland, Texas, May 11-14, 2014