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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 38 (1954)

Issue: 5. (May)

First Page: 949

Last Page: 950

Title: Powder River Basin, A Frontier: ABSTRACT

Author(s): W. E. West, Jr.

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Although oil has been produced from the Powder River basin since 1889, the basin is still a frontier. The margins are defined by oil fields with the interior parts comprising a vast, virtually unexplored territory. Oil and gas have been found in a variety of traps unexcelled in number by any other Rocky Mountain basin.

The basin is rather simple structurally, with such complexities as exist involving large-scale faulting. The stratigraphy is complicated by numerous north-south and east-west changes in lithology and time span. Cretaceous sediments have accounted for most of the oil produced to date. Jurassic and Pennsylvanian rocks are also important producers. Developments of the past several years have demonstrated that it takes remarkably little to trap oil and gas in this basin and exploration ideas have changed accordingly. Fault-trap production, as demonstrated in Sussex-West Sussex area, and stratigraphic accumulations, such as South Glenrock and Clareton-Black Thunder fields, are typical of more recent discoveries creating great optimism for exploratory work to come.

Future exploration will involve continued geophysical work to search out structural anomalies, particularly in the interior Tertiary-covered parts of the basin. Subsurface work will become increasingly important and surface methods will suffer a gradual decrease in popularity.

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Discoveries will come from both structural and stratigraphic traps, with the latter type becoming increasingly important as more well control is made available.

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Copyright 1997 American Association of Petroleum Geologists