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AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 26 (1942)

Issue: 6. (June)

First Page: 991

Last Page: 999

Title: Developments in Southeastern United States in 1941

Author(s): Urban B. Hughes (2)


Outstanding development trends in the southeastern United States during 1941 were the following:

1. A decided decrease in wildcat activity with only approximately half the number of wells completed as during 1940.

2. The continuation of a curtailed geophysical program comparable with the last months of 1940 with a slight upturn toward the end of the year.

3. The inception of core-drilling programs by eight major companies with more emphasis placed on this type of exploration, as well as on surface geology.

4. A continuation of the leasing program in south Mississippi and its extension into Alabama and Florida.

5. The review and revision of geological and geophysical data with an attempt to eliminate the sources of error as revealed by negative results of exploration in 1940.

There were several additional events of importance in the area. Development in the Tinsley field seemingly outlined the limits of production from the shallow sands. A new sand, the McGraw, was discovered on the north edge of the field in the basal part of the Eutaw formation.

Two new fields were discovered in Mississippi, the Sharpsburg field in T. 11 N., R. 3 E., Madison County, and the Cary field in T. 11 N., R. 7 W., Sharkey County. The Sharpsburg field which may be an extension of the near-by Pickens field was discovered by C. L. Morgan's Johnny No. 1, Sec. 4, T. 11 N., R. 3 E. The producing sand is known as the Wilburn and is the first sand in the Eutaw formation. The Cary field was opened by the British-American Oil Company's Houston No. 1, Sec. 23, T. 11 N., R. 7 W., producing from Selma gas rock of Navarro age. Neither area has had sufficient exploration to evaluate the future.

Of geological importance was the limiting of the Mississippi salt basin on its northeast side by the Union Producing Company's Waite No. 1 in Clarke County, Alabama, and the Magnolia Petroleum Company's Culpepper No. 1 in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. The Union Producing well drilled to a total depth of 12,399 feet and near the bottom penetrated formations which are correlated with the Buckner, Smackover, and Eagle Mills formations of Louisiana and Arkansas. In the Eagle Mills formation, interbedded shale and salt was cored, suggesting proximity to the edge of the salt deposit. The Magnolia well in Lauderdale County encountered rocks of Paleozoic age at the depth of 6,060 feet, so that the limit of the salt deposit is between these two wells. Of first importance geologically is the resence of the Smackover limestone, indicating its presence across the Mississippi Basin into Alabama. This suggests the possibility of production in porous zones comparable with producing areas in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Alabama and Florida came in for extensive geophysical and leasing activity. In the latter state many of the large tracts were taken under geophysical option or otherwise leased. The same was true of southern Alabama and to a less degree, southern Mississippi. Nothing of importance occurred in Georgia.

Two new salt domes were discovered in Mississippi. Kings dome was found by the Magnolia Petroleum Company's Hall No. 1, Sec. 17, T. 7 N., R. 4 E., Warren County. The Halifax dome was discovered by the Plains Producing Company in Sec. 1, T. 7 N., R. 4 W., Hinds County.

The Magnolia Petroleum Company's Hall No. 1 encountered a saturated section in the top of the Wilcox formation. A test resulted in showing the presence of low-gravity asphaltic oil and water. Although this had no commercial value, the presence of oil in the top of the Wilcox formation was indicative of its productive possibilities elsewhere.

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Fig. 1. Continued. See caption on page 992.

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During 1941, activity in the southeastern United States was largely confined to Mississippi. Alabama ranked second, with Florida and Georgia following in the order named; South Carolina was the only state in this geographical unit wholly inactive.

Following the disappointing results of wildcat drilling during the preceding year, there was a shift in the types of exploration used. During 1940, geophysical methods were used almost exclusively; in 1941, however, other types of work were adopted. During the year, seven major companies carried on core-drilling programs. New data made it possible to refine subsurface maps. At the same time, discovery of sources of error in seismograph work made it possible to correct earlier mistakes and to avoid them in current work.

There was a gradual shifting in activity from Mississippi eastward, Alabama and Florida receiving the most attention, along with south Mississippi. By the end of the year most of the large holdings controlled by lumber companies had been placed under contract.

The limits of the Tinsley field were practically outlined insofar as the upper formations were concerned, as the salt-water level was reached on all sides of this field. Only one new sand was discovered during the year; it is known as the McGraw sand and is probably a lenticular sand in the basal part of the Eutaw formation of Upper Cretaceous age.

The most important event geologically was the discovery of the presence of Smackover limestone in southwestern Alabama, showing that this formation, which is productive in Arkansas, extends across the Mississippi embayment and presumably under much of Mississippi. The Union Producing Company's Waite No. 1, Clarke County, Alabama, was drilled to 12,399 feet and near the bottom penetrated the Buckner limestone, Smackover limestone, and Eagle Mills formation of Jurassic age. In the Eagle Mills formation salt was found interbedded with red shale, the latter being discolored with the red stain from the shale. This suggests that this well was drilled near the edge of the salt deposit and limits it on the northern flank side of the basin. This interpretation is further borne out by the resul s of the Magnolia Petroleum Company's Culpepper No. 1, Lauderdale County, Mississippi; this well encountered rocks of Paleozoic age at 6,060 feet and is beyond the limits of the salt basin.

Two new fields were discovered, neither of which had been sufficiently drilled by the end of the year to forecast their importance.

The first of these was the Cary field, T. 11 N., R. 7 W., Sharkey County, Mississippi, drilled by the British-American Oil Company.

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It produces from Selma gas rock of Navarro age and it made 40 barrels of oil daily, initially, and considerable salt water.

The Sharpsburg field was discovered by C. L. Morgan's Johnny No. 1, Sec. 4, T. 11 N., R. 3 E., Madison County, Mississippi. The producing sand is the Wilburn which is the first sand in the Eutaw formation and is correlative with the producing sand in the Pickens field, Yazoo County, Mississippi. The exact relationship between these fields was not clear but it seemed likely that they were distinct producing areas and seemingly of small extent.

Two new salt domes were discovered. The Magnolia Petroleum Company's Hall No. 1 discovered the Kings dome, Sec. 17, T. 7 N., R. 4 E., Warren County, Mississippi. Above the salt more than 30 feet of saturated sand was found in the top of the Wilcox formation; a test showed the presence of low-gravity asphaltic oil and water, but it was not a commercial producer. The presence of this showing pointed to the possibility of production in the Wilcox formation in southeastern United States; the results in this well seem to be one of the high-lights of the year.

The Halifax dome was discovered by the Plains Producing Company, Sec. 1, T. 7 N., R. 4 W., Hinds County, Mississippi.

At least two other salt domes were reported as discovered, but no information regarding them was available.


There was a decided falling off in wildcat activity in this area, with only approximately half the number of completed wells as recorded during 1940. Two hundred nineteen producers were drilled in Mississippi, 217 being located in the Tinsley field, 1 in the Cary field, and 1 in the Sharpsburg field. Seventy-six dry holes were drilled in Mississippi: 20 in the Tinsley field proper, 6 in Yazoo County, and 50 in the other parts of the state.

In Alabama, 12 dry holes and no producers were drilled. There were no completions in Florida during 1941; only 4 operations were reported, and one of these, the Florida Oil Discovery Company's Cedar Keys No. 2 was drilled to 6,000 feet. No drilling was reported in Georgia and South Carolina. The total number of wells completed in the area was 307.


There was a sharp decline in leasing activity in Mississippi during the year except in the south part of the state, where the last large tracts of lumber company cut-over land were placed under contract.

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Most of the major company leases were maintained, but some were allowed to lapse through non-payment of rentals; also an effort was made by some of the lessors to secure a reduction in the rental terms.

In Alabama, there was a continuation of the lease play which was begun in 1940. The number of companies participating in this activity was small, but those parts of south Alabama which were considered most attractive were largely placed under lease.

In Florida, both major companies and independents were active in leasing throughout the state; all the submerged lands on the west coast were leased and many of the large holdings were placed under contract.

In Georgia, there was slight lease activity; none was reported from South Carolina.


The amount of geophysical work being carried on at the end of 1940 was continued through 1941. Of the total number of crews approximately two-thirds were located in Mississippi, the remainder being in the other states, mostly Alabama and Florida. Figure 3 shows the number of geophysical parties active at the end of each month for 1940 and 1941.


All of the production in the southeastern United States came from Mississippi. The grand total of oil produced was 15,500,651 barrels, divided as follows.




The total cumulated production for the state was 20,111,894 barrels. Figure 4 shows the production trend during 1940 and 1941.

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The Jackson gas field accounted for the total gas production in the area. Figure 5 shows the productive history of this field for the years 1940 and 1941.


During 1940 the southeastern district was still in the early stages of exploration. Many errors of method have been discovered and were being eliminated. The Tinsley field was outlined so far as the Woodruff zone was concerned, but the limits of production in none of the deeper formations had been established. No attempt was made to drill deeper than depths formerly reached. The presence of Smackover limestone in southwestern Alabama pointed to its presence under a large part of the area and opened new possibilities for deeper drilling. All work was moving at a slower tempo and had gained much in accuracy as a result.

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