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The Spraberry trend of west Texas, once known as the world's largest uneconomic oil field, will undoubtedly become an increasingly important objective for the development of enhanced oil recovery techniques in fine-grained, low-permeability, low-pressure reservoirs. As the trend expands, facies and stratigraphic data should be integrated into exploration strategies.
The Spraberry and Dean Formations may be divided into three genetic sequences, each consisting of several hundred feet of interbedded shale and carbonate overlain by a roughly equal amount of sandstone and siltstone. These sequences record episodes of shelf-margin progradation, deep-water resedimentation of shelf-derived carbonate debris, followed by influxes of terrigenous clastics into the basin by way of feeder channels or submarine canyons, and suspension settling of fine-grained sediment from the water column.
Four lithofacies comprise the terrigenous clastics of the Spraberry and Dean Formations: (1) cross-laminated, massive, and parallel-laminated sandstone, (2) laminated siltstone, (3) bioturbated siltstone, and (4) black, organic-rich shale. Carbonate lithofacies occur mostly in the form of thin-bedded turbidites, slump, and debris-flow deposits. Terrigenous clastic rocks display facies sequences, isopach patterns, and sedimentary structures suggestive of deposition from turbidity currents, and long-lived saline density underflow and interflow currents.
Clastic isopach patterns reflect an overall southward thinning of clastics in the Midland basin. Channelized flow and suspension settling were responsible for the formation of elongate fan-shaped accumulations of clastic sediments.
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