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The Dakota Formation is an important oil reservoir in the southwestern Powder River basin and adjoining Casper arch. Two fields, Burke Ranch and South Cole Creek, are used as examples to show the depositional environments of the Dakota and to indicate the influence of tectonic control on the distribution of the environments.
Burke Ranch field is a stratigraphic trap which produces oil from the upper bench of the Dakota. The environment of deposition of the reservoir, determined by subsurface analysis, is a channel sandstone. South Cole Creek field is a structural-stratigraphic trap which produces from the lower bench of the Dakota. Two distinct facies, a channel and channel margin sandstone, exist at South Cole Creek.
At both Burke Ranch and South Cole Creek it can be shown that the Dakota channels were deposited on the downthrown side of faults, which were present during Dakota time and which now are reflected on the surface by drainage patterns. An understanding of the environments of deposition of the Dakota and control of the environments by paleotectonics is necessary for exploration for these prolific reservoirs.
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