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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists


Revisiting and Revitalizing the Niobrara in the Central Rockies, 2011
Pages 41-54

Chapter 3: Fault Patterns in the Niobrara Formation—Examples from the Eastern and Central Denver Basin

Steven G. Siguaw, Jane E. Estes-Jackson


The Upper Cretaceous Niobrara Formation is the latest in a series of fractured plays at the forefront of exploration activity within the Rocky Mountain region. Prolific oil and gas production has been achieved through the use of modern exploration methods followed by advanced horizontal and vertical drilling and completion techniques.

Regional historical 2-D seismic data as well as older single fold seismic data is used to target attractive exploration areas within the mature Denver Basin of eastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, and western Nebraska. The use of these reconnaissance data is followed by modern high-resolution Previous Hit3-DNext Hit seismic surveys that identify Niobrara faults along with their orientation and throw.

McElvain Oil & Gas Properties, Inc. acquired a series of three proprietary Previous Hit3-DNext Hit surveys in Yuma County, Colorado, which were merged into one contiguous 54.5 mi2 Previous Hit3-DNext Hit survey through data reprocessing. Subsequent interpretation techniques, including volume curvature, were used to identify Niobrara fault trends, patterns, and fault displacements and reveal attractive structural exploration targets in the Niobrara Formation. These techniques led to the discovery of two new Niobrara fields within the Mildred combined Previous Hit3-DNext Hit survey area. Two additional Previous Hit3-DNext Hit surveys, the 4.2 mi2 Krieger Previous Hit3-DNext Hit in Weld County, Colorado and the 14.6 mi2 Cedar Creek Previous Hit3-DTop in Cheyenne County, Nebraska are shown to illustrate Niobrara faulting signatures in other portions of the Denver Basin. These surveys reveal that fault patterns within the Niobrara Formation may be influenced by both Laramide reactivation of basement shear zones and post-Cretaceous dissolution of Permian salt beds.

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