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Sandstone reservoirs of the Morrow Formation of southeastern New Mexico are important natural gas reservoirs. Production from this unit is affected by the types and distributions of detrital and authigenic clay minerals present in the rocks. Thus, X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopic analyses of samples from the lower Morrow reservoirs were conducted to understand the types, morphologies, petrographic positions, and regional trends of clays in the unit.
By far, authigenic kaolinite and chlorite are the major clays present in the lower Morrow sandstone reservoirs. The kaolinite content of the clay fraction of the formation can reach a maximum of 100%, whereas that of chlorite can be as high as 59%. When both are present, authigenic kaolinite and chlorite can effectively reduce much of the permeability of the sandstone reservoirs. Smectite, illite, and mixed-layer smectite-illite are relatively insignificant clays in the lower Morrow, except in certain small areas of the study area, and are largely detrital in origin.
The distribution of smectite, illite, and mixed-layer smectite-illite reflects the depositional processes acting in each of the facies of the lower Morrow. These clays are most abundant in immature fluvial-deltaic and basinal sandstones and relatively deficient in reworked marine sandstones. Distribution of authigenic kaolinite and chlorite also mimics the facies pattern, but is not controlled by it. In the lower Morrow, kaolinite increases landward while chlorite increases toward the basinal facies.
Successful treatment procedures for reservoir sandstones must differ with the different clay mineral types present.
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