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The Lower Permian Schoolhouse Member of the Maroon Formation (formerly considered the Schoolhouse Tongue of the Weber Sandstone) forms a partly exhumed petroleum reservoir in the Eagle basin of northwestern Colorado. The Schoolhouse consists mainly of yellowish gray to gray, low-angle to parallel bedded, very fine to fine-grained sandstone of eolian sand-sheet origin; interbedded fluvial deposits are present in most sections. The sand-sheet deposits of the Schoolhouse Member are sedimentologically and petrologically similar to those in the underlying red beds of the main body of the Maroon Formation, and the Schoolhouse is considered the uppermost sand sheet in the Maroon depositional sequence. The bleached and oil-stained Schoolhouse Member is distinguished from the unde lying Maroon red beds on the basis of its diagenetic history, which is related to regional hydrocarbon migration and development of secondary porosity.
Geological and geochemical data suggest that Schoolhouse Member oils have upper Paleozoic sources, including the intrabasinal Belden Formation. Late Paleozoic faults have served as local conduits for vertical petroleum migration. Large-scale (>200 km) lateral migration from sources in the Permian Phosphoria Formation is also possible but less likely. Belden oil was generated and migrated before about 75 Ma. Subsequently, the Schoolhouse Member reservoir was uplifted, then partly exhumed on the monoclinal flank of the Laramide (latest Cretaceous-Paleogene) White River uplift. Based on this study, exploration models for Maroon Formation and Weber Sandstone reservoirs in northwestern Colorado should be expanded to more fully consider Belden source rocks and the controls of late Paleoz ic structures on hydrocarbon migration and trapping. Stratigraphic units of diagenetic origin comparable to the Schoolhouse Member are likely in other basin provinces, and their proper interpretation is critical for reconstructing the histories of associated petroleum systems.
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