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Siliciclastics of the Yates Formation (Permian, upper Guadalupian) are significant hydrocarbon reservoirs in the United States Permian basin. Subsurface and outcrop data show that the most porous lithofacies occur in a clastic-dominated middle shelf and that evaporitic inner shelf and carbonate outer shelf equivalents are mostly nonporous.
Lithofacies relations and much of the heterogeneity in Yates reservoirs are related to the stacking of depositional sequences (i.e., siliciclastic-carbonate alternations and sandstone-argillaceous siltstone alternations) in response to three orders of orbitally forced, low-amplitude, eustatic variation. In general, siliciclastics dominated the Yates shelf during lowstand parts of asymmetric, 400-k.y. sea level fluctuations, whereas carbonates were deposited during sea level highstands. The character and position of sand depocenters on the Yates shelf during these lowstands were controlled by a longer duration third-order sea level variation. Shorter duration cycles controlled the heterogeneity within the 400-k.y. depositional sequences. The variation in cycle packaging, lithology, and reservoir quality between the Central Basin platform and Northwest shelf may be a response of eustatic variation on parts of the shelf with different slopes or subsidence profiles.
The lithofacies described from the Yates Formation and the depositional model proposed to explain the stratigraphy may be valuable as analogs in other basins containing mixed siliciclastic-carbonate settings.
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