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Situated in the western part of the Colorado Plateau in Utah, the Kaiparowits basin is one of the least explored of the major Rocky Mountain geologic provinces. The Kaiparowits is not a topographic but a stratigraphic basin that began as an early to middle Paleozoic oceanic embayment that stretched slightly east of the shallow shelf transitional hinge line. The full depositional history of the Kaiparowits area records the alternation of basinal sedimentation (early to middle Paleozoic, parts of the Permian, middle to late Mesozoic) and plateau uplift (late Paleozoic-early Mesozoic, late Tertiary-Holocene). Its present configuration is the result primarily of Laramide tectonism. In its overall tectonic aspects, the Kaiparowits describes a large triangular region in which, rom west to east, the structural grain rotates about 70° from a northeast to a northwest trend, with the intensity of deformation decreasing considerably.
To date, the only commercially productive area in the basin is the Upper Valley field, where hydrocarbons have been recovered primarily from dolomitized carbonates of the Kaibab Formation and Timpoweap Member of the Early Triassic Moenkopi Formation. Entrapment is within the strongly asymmetrical, doubly plunging Upper Valley anticline, where an active water drive has offset the oil pool onto the steeply dipping western limb. Live oil shows have been reported from nearly every pre-Jurassic formation in the region. Despite this, very few (170) exploratory wells have been drilled in this vast territory of nearly 22,000 mi2 (57,000 km2).
Recently, however, a discovery of a different type has indicated the basin contains tremendous amounts of CO2 gas reserves that could prove useful for both ongoing and future secondary recovery programs. At the very least, it is probable that most of the true potential of the Kaiparowits has thus far been overlooked, partially due to the rugged and isolated terrain. It is one of the least densely drilled provinces in the Rockies with one of the highest concentrations of probable source and reservoir rocks.
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