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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 86, No. 1 (January 2002), P. 1-20.

Copyright ©2002. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Structure, stratigraphy, and hydrocarbon system of a Pennsylvanian pull-apart basin in north-central Texas

Brian S. Brister,1 William C. Stephens,2 Gregg A. Norman3

1New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, New Mexico, 87801; email: [email protected]
2Gunn Oil Company, PO Box 97508, Wichita Falls, Texas, 76307-7508; email: [email protected]
3Gunn Oil Company, PO Box 97508, Wichita Falls, Texas, 76307-7508; email: [email protected]


Brian S. Brister received his Ph.D. in 1990 from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. From 1990 to 1998, he was an exploration geologist in the Texas and Rocky Mountain regions for Burnett Oil Co., Inc., Fort Worth, Texas. Currently, he is a research petroleum geologist conducting characterization studies of low-permeability gas reservoirs and related hydrocarbon systems.

William C. Stephens received his B.S. degree in geology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1980. He has been an exploration and development geologist with Gunn Oil Company for 20 years. His primary focus is on the application of sequence stratigraphy and petroleum systems concepts to the exploration of the Pennsylvanian System in north Texas.

Gregg Norman earned his B.S. degree in geology from Midwestern State University in 1987. He has been employed by Gunn Oil Company since 1987 as an exploration and development geologist focusing on north and west Texas. His current areas of interest and research include sequence stratigraphy and petroleum systems of the eastern Permian basin of Texas.


We thank Gunn Oil Company and Burnett Oil Co., Inc. for their support. We appreciate the many people who contributed ideas, data, and reviews, notably R. D. Gunn, J. W. Mason, R. R. Ray, P. Renick, D. S. Stone, T. E. Ewing, and L. T. Billingsley. The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources provided a supportive environment for research and completion of this article, including drafting by Leo Gabaldon.


In 1989, a deep test in Cottle County, Texas, discovered an anomalously thick, gas-charged Pennsylvanian (lower Bend Group) clastic section along the Matador arch. Subsequent exploration and development provided data that support the concept that the natural gas fields in Cottle and King counties, north-central Texas, mark the extent of a hydrocarbon system related to the Broken Bone graben, an elongate 180 km2 pull-apart basin in southeastern Cottle County. The graben results from left-step overstepping of left-lateral fault zones and is a component of the Red River-Matador structural trend of the greater Ancestral Rocky Mountains. Arkosic detritus originating from the Amarillo-Wichita uplift was transported southward, over the region containing the graben, toward the Knox-Baylor trough. Episodic graben subsidence accommodated a part of this sediment load as syntectonic, cyclically stacked Bend Group (Atokan, lower Pennsylvanian) fluvial-deltaic to marine deposits. Organic facies within the graben fill are predominantly terrestrially derived (gas prone) and present in sufficient quantity for significant hydrocarbon generation. Lopatin method basin modeling, vitrinite reflectance (Ro) measurements, and Ro-calibrated pyrolysis-derived maturity measures demonstrate that the Bend Group organic facies in the graben have approached peak gas-generating maturation levels. Generated gas migrated within and outside of the basin following nonsealing faults and channelized fluvial pathways into several reservoir rock types in combination structural and stratigraphic traps. (Begin page 2)

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