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AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 80 (1996)

Issue: 8. (August)

First Page: 1242

Last Page: 1261

Title: Subsurface Geology of the Warfield Structures in Southwestern West Virginia: Implications for Tectonic Deformation and Hydrocarbon Exploration in the Central Appalachian Basin

Author(s): Dengliang Gao (2), Robert C. Shumaker (3)


Data from over 6000 wells and five multichannel reflection seismic lines were used to constrain the subsurface geometry of the Warfield structures in southwestern West Virginia within the central Appalachian basin. Based on their vertical differences in geometry and structural styles, we divided the Warfield structures into shallow (above the Devonian Onondaga Limestone), intermediate (between the Devonian Onondaga Limestone and the Silurian Tuscarora Sandstone), and deep (below the Ordovician Trenton horizon) structural levels. Shallow structures are related to the Alleghanian deformation above the major detachment horizon of the Devonian shales and consist of the Warfield anticline with a 91.5-m closure and southeast-dipping monoclines, which aided the northwest migrati n and entrapment of oil and gas. At the intermediate level, the closure of the Warfield anticline is lost because the Alleghanian deformation is obscured below the major detachment of the Devonian shales, which explains the reduced production from the Devonian and Silurian reservoirs. Deep structures are characterized by an asymmetric half graben within a continental rift system known as the Rome trough, in which a thick sequence of sedimentary rocks exists to provide sources for overlying reservoirs. Although stratigraphic traps may be associated with thickness and facies changes, the deep level is structurally unfavorable for trapping hydrocarbons. Based on changes we found in map trend, we divided the Warfield structures into a middle segment and southern and northern bends. The middl segment is parallel to the New York-Alabama lineament (a northeast-trending magnetic gradient); the southern and the northern bends are linked to the 38th parallel lineament (a west-trending fault system) and the Burning Springs-Mann Mountain lineament (a north-trending magnetic gradient), respectively. We propose a wedge tectonic model to explain (1) northern and southern bends of the Warfield structures and hydrocarbon distribution in the subsurface of southwestern West Virginia; (2) vertical changes in geometry and structural style from the deeply buried half graben to the overlying asymmetric anticline; and (3) geometric and kinematic relationship among the Warfield structures, the 38th parallel, and the Burning Springs-Mann Mountain lineaments.

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