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Outcrops of Guadalupian sedimentary rocks in the Permian basin of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico are a classic example of the facies relationships that span a carbonate shelf. In the subsurface, these rocks form classic hydrocarbon-facies traps. Proceeding from basin to the updip termination of the shelf, the facies are (1) deep-water basin, (2) an apron of allochthonous carbonates, (3) carbonate shelf margin or reef, (4) carbonate sand flats, (5) carbonate barrier islands, (6) lagoon, and (7) coastal playas and supratidal salt flats (sabkhas). Over a half century of exploration drilling has shown that hydrocarbons in the Permian rocks of the Permian basin have accumulated at the updip contact of the lagoonal dolomites and clastics with the coastal evaporites, and in the basinal channel-fill clastics. The shelf marginal (reef) facies contain cavernous porosity, but commonly are water saturated. These facies relationships and hydrocarbon occurrences provide an exploration model with which to explore and rank hydrocarbon potential in other carbonate provinces.
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