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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 65 (1981)

Issue: 5. (May)

First Page: 1006

Last Page: 1006

Title: Ground-Water Potential for Oil Shale Development in Northwestern Colorado: ABSTRACT

Author(s): Frank A. Welder

Article Type: Meeting abstract


Rocks in northwestern Colorado contain large amounts of oil shale which constitutes perhaps the richest hydrocarbon resource in the United States. Efforts to develop oil shale will increase demand for water in a region where surface water is fully appropriated. To meet additional water needs associated with industrial and population growth, sources of ground water need to be investigated.

It has been 15 years since investigators determined that large quantities of ground water occur above, within, and below rich oil shale deposits in the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance basin of northwestern Colorado. Estimates of the amount of ground water stored in the Piceance basin are as much as 25 million acre-ft. The specific conductance of ground water discharged during the drilling of 24 test holes ranged from 100 to 50,000 micromhos per cm at 25°C.

Another potential major source of ground water in northwestern Colorado may be the Leadville Limestone of Mississippian age. Solution cavities in the outcrop of the Leadville Limestone in northwestern Colorado indicate that the formation may store and transmit large quantities of water. Where fractured and near the surface, the Leadville Limestone has been exposed to ground-water movement, resulting in the development of solution cavities that have enhanced the hydraulic conductivity and storage capacity of the aquifer. Where the Leadville is exposed on or near various structural uplifts in northwestern Colorado, the opportunity for groundwater recharge, movement, and storage may be extensive. Other potential aquifers such as the Dakota Sandstone and the Entrada Sandstone are also und r consideration.

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