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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 75 (1991)

Issue: 3. (March)

First Page: 409

Last Page: 435

Title: Regional Paleotopographic Trends and Production, Muddy Sandstone (Lower Cretaceous), Central and Northern Rocky Mountains (1)

Author(s): JOHN DOLSON (2), DAVE MULLER (3), M. J. EVETTS (4), and J. A. STEIN (3)


The Muddy Sandstone and equivalent strata have produced more than 1.5 billion bbl of oil-equivalent hydrocarbons. Production is controlled principally by unconformities formed during a relative sea level lowstand. Reservoirs are found in paleohills of older marine sandstones, younger valley fills and associated alluvial plain channel sandstones, and transgressive marine deposits.

At least ten paleodrainage basins existed at maximum lowstand. A regional drainage divide formed in southern Wyoming and separated southeast-flowing from northwest-flowing alluvial systems. Local tributaries stripped drainage divides of fine-grained detritus derived from the underlying Skull Creek Shale and older marine sandstones. In contrast, trunk streams carried medium- and coarse grained-sands eroded from eastern, southern, and western provenances of Paleozoic and Mesozoic strata. The best fluvial reservoirs are developed within these coarser grained trunk systems. Reservoir data display little or no correlation between depth and porosity due to secondary dissolution porosity developed at all depths.

Valley fill and channel reservoirs have produced at least 359 MMBOE, onlap cycles another 315+ MMBOE, and older marine buried-hill reservoirs more than 268 MMBOE. The best per-field reserves are from marine sandstones. Regional production patterns reflect proximity to mature Skull Creek and Mowry shale source beds and favorable trapping conditions within individual paleodrainages.

Future hydrocarbon exploration successes will require drilling to the Muddy Sandstone in deeper basin settings and a better understanding of the role of unconformities and diagenesis in controlling hydrocarbon accumulations.

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