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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 88, No. 1 (2004), P. 47-70.

Copyright copy2004. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Reservoir geology of Nicholas and Liverpool Cemetery fields (lower Pennsylvanian), Stanton County, Kansas, and their significance to the regional interpretation of the Morrow Formation incised-valley-fill systems in eastern Colorado and western Kansas

D. W. Bowen,1 P. Weimer2

1Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, 895 Technology Blvd. South 103, Bozeman, Montana 59718; [email protected]
2Energy and Minerals Applied Research Center, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0399; [email protected]


David Bowen received his B.S. degree from Hobart College in 1978, his M.S. degree from Montana State University in 1980, and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 2001. He is a consulting petroleum geologist and is an affiliate faculty member at Montana State University. His current work focuses on the application of stratigraphy to exploration and exploitation problems in the western United States. His research interests include sequence stratigraphy, basin analysis, and the study of incised-valley-fill systems. David will be an AAPG distinguished lecturer in 2003–2004.

Paul Weimer holds the Bruce D. Benson Endowed Chair in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and serves as director of the Energy and Minerals Applied Research Center. He is the current treasurer of the AAPG. In 2004, he will give the Society of Exploration Geophysicists Distinguished Instructor Short Course.


We thank AAPG reviewers James Coleman, Jr., William Goff, and James Rogers for their insightful reviews and AAPG Editor John Lorenz for his insight and help. An earlier version of the manuscript benefited from the reviews of Andy Pulham, Mary Kraus, Jack Edwards, and Roy Kligfield. We thank Keith Shanley for his help in expediting the donation of cores used in this study from Amoco Production Company to the University of Colorado, Boulder.


Reservoirs in the lower Pennsylvanian Morrow Formation of eastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and northwestern Oklahoma have produced greater than 8 tcf of gas and 200 million bbl of oil. This prolific depositional system produces from reservoirs representing a range of depositional environments from updip, fluvial-dominated, incised-valley fills to deep-water basin-floor systems. The valley fills of the Morrow Formation are of particular significance because they can be mapped in great detail from subsurface control over very long distances. Facies distributions in the valleys change systematically downdip. As a result, reservoir characteristics and trapping mechanisms vary with these changes in internal valley stratigraphy.

This paper focuses on the reservoir geology of Nicholas and Liverpool Cemetery fields. These fields produce gas from the extreme downdip region of an incised-valley-fill system in the lower Morrow Formation. The valley systems in this downdip region are deeper and wider and demonstrate greater marine influence than the updip regions of the valley systems farther north and into the hinterland.

Compartmentalization in these downdip reservoirs differs significantly from updip valley-fill reservoirs. The reservoirs in this downdip region are more highly compartmentalized because the dominant reservoir facies in these fields is a series of bayfill delta deposits. These deposits are isolated by shale deposits in the valley. This depositional setting contrasts markedly with predominantly fluvial reservoirs in updip regions of the valleys. Understanding the scale, geometry, and internal complexity of this depositional system is important because the associated sandstones are important gas reservoirs in southwest Kansas. Cores, wire-line logs, pressure data, and production data collected from the Morrow Formation at Nicholas and Liverpool Cemetery fields provide valuable information from which to describe and interpret this downdip valley fill. This paper describes the downdip incised-valley-fill reservoirs in this producing complex and documents the trapping relationships of these reservoirs and their production characteristics.

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