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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 65 (1981)

Issue: 6. (June)

First Page: 1146

Last Page: 1159

Title: Lithology, Reservoir Properties, and Burial History of Portion of Gammon Shale (Cretaceous), Southwestern North Dakota

Author(s): Donald L. Gautier (2)


In the northern Great Plains, large quantities of biogenic methane are contained at shallow depths in Cretaceous marine mudstones. The Gammon Shale and equivalents of the Milk River Formation in Canada, which comprise most sediments deposited offshore during the Eagle-Telegraph Creek regression, are typical of such gas-bearing rocks. At Little Missouri field, southwestern North Dakota, Gammon reservoirs consist of discontinuous lenses and laminae of siltstone, less than 10 mm thick, enclosed by silty clay shale. Large amounts of allogenic clay, including highly expansible mixed-layer illite-smectite cause great water sensitivity and high measured and calculated water-saturation values.

Reconstructed burial depths, clay mineralogy, and organic matter maturation studies show that the Gammon has not undergone thermal conditions sufficient for oil or thermal gas generation. Scarce authigenic minerals such as pyrite, siderite, and calcite probably formed as a result of bacterial metabolism early in the burial history. The scarcity of authigenic silicates suggests that diagenesis has been inhibited during much of the burial history by the presence of free methane.

Shale layers are practically impermeable whereas siltstone microlenses are porous (30 to 40%) and have permeabilities on the order of 3 to 30 md. Reservoir continuity between siltstone layers is poor and, overall, reservoir permeability is probably less than 0.4 md. Connecting passageways between siltstone lenses are 0.1 ┬Ám or less in diameter.

Organic matter in the low-permeability reservoirs served as the source of biogenic methane, and capillary forces acted as the trapping mechanism for gas accumulation. At Little Missouri field, reservoirs and non-reservoirs cannot be distinguished on the basis of lithology, and much of the Gammon interval is potentially economic. Future research should be directed toward determining the physical basis of log response in the low-permeability reservoirs and toward the development or application of water-free recovery technology.

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