2014 Rocky Mountain Section AAPG Annual Meeting

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Source to Sink Systems for Hydrocarbon Exploration in Lacustrine Basin Fill: Analog Examples from the Tertiary Duchesne River Formation, Northern Uinta Basin, Northeastern Utah


Facies architecture and sequence stratigraphy have become increasingly important topics for oil and gas exploration in lacustrine basins worldwide. Extensive, well-exposed outcrops of the Tertiary Duchesne River Formation can be traced from source to sink, and thus comprise a classic study example for hydrocarbon modeling. In the Uinta Basin, the juxtaposition of a lower organic rich lacustrine source rock and an overlying, coarse-grained fluvial sandstone yield ideal conditions for upward hydrocarbon migration into a suitable reservoir. Here, the Duchesne River Formation represents the last stage of the lacustrine basin sequence. The fluvial - lacustrine facies record tectonic control stemming from uplift of the E - W elongate basin-bounding Uinta Mountains. The basal member is characterized by a high net-to-gross braided river system in the west and a low net-to-gross sinuous or isolated small stream system in the east. Extensive paleocurrent data show dominant southerly transport, perpendicular to the basin axis. However, texturally mature sediments in the western part of the basin suggest long transport distance from a different source terrain, specifically the Sevier fold thrust belt. The multiple transport patterns indicate that the drainage system along the basin axis was important for development of a large-volume and high-quality reservoir system. This late-stage basin fill example demonstrates the importance of deciphering the complex input of multiple source terrains combined with distinctive fluvial sand-body architectures.