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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 69 (1985)

Issue: 2. (February)

First Page: 288

Last Page: 288

Title: Application of Landsat Imagery to Hydrocarbon Exploration in Niobrara Formation, Denver Basin: ABSTRACT

Author(s): I. S. Merin, W. R. Moore

Article Type: Meeting abstract


The Niobrara Formation produces commercial quantities of oil from fractures in several places in the Denver basin. The Niobrara in this basin is an oil-prone, mature source rock having as much as 3.4% TOC, and has been in the generating window since early Eocene. This implies that hydrocarbon generation from the Niobrara is partly contemporaneous with the Laramide orogeny. The Laramide was a multiple-phase orogenic event that began with compression directed to the east-northeast during the Late Cretaceous to Paleocene and ended with compression directed to the northeast during the Eocene. We believe the Eocene phase activated northeast-trending extension fractures that may have acted as loci for storage and migration of hydrocarbons, locally generated in the Niobrara. The auto-fracing pressures related to hydrocarbon generation in the Niobrara theoretically would preferentially open and fill this northeast-trending fracture system.

Examination of Landsat imagery shows that zones of northeast-trending lineaments are present throughout the basin. Numerous northeast-trending faults are present in the basin, and many overlie older zones that were reactivated during the Laramide. This suggests that these lineaments are previously unrecognized fracture zones. We have defined an exploration fairway within the basin based on subsurface isopach and resistivity mapping. We believe that mapping of northeast-trending fractures can help identify leads (within this fairway) prospective for Niobrara production. Support of this concept is the location of several apparently productive Niobrara wells along a zone of northeast-trending lineaments.

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Copyright 1997 American Association of Petroleum Geologists