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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 92, No. 6 (June 2008), P. 765-787.

Copyright copy2008. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


Calcite cement in Permian deep-water sandstones, Delaware Basin, west Texas: Origin, distribution, and effect on reservoir properties

Shirley P. Dutton1

1Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78713-8924; [email protected]


Calcite cement is the dominant control on reservoir quality in turbidite sandstones of the Upper Permian Bell Canyon Formation, Delaware Basin. These well-sorted, very fine-grained arkoses were deposited in a basin-floor setting by channel-levee systems terminating in broad lobes. Calcite cement distribution in the East Ford and Geraldine Ford fields was mapped using core, log, and thin-section data. Calcite is concentrated in tightly cemented zones that are mostly less than 1 ft (0.3 m) thick. Areas that have high percentages of calcite-cemented sandstone (gt20%) occur along the margins of the sandstone bodies, in overbank and lobe deposits, where sandstone pinches out into siltstone. Areas that have the lowest percentage of calcite-cemented sandstone (lt10%) occur where the sandstone is thickest, in the channel facies.

Isotopic composition of the calcite (delta13C = minus1.8 to minus3.0permil [relative to the Peedee belemnite, PDB], delta18O = minus4.6 to minus6.3permil [PDB]) is consistent with the source of calcium carbonate being from dissolution of detrital carbonate rock fragments and marine skeletal debris. Because internal sources of calcite were apparently insufficient to account for the cement volume, cement components are interpreted as having been transported into the sandstones from organic-rich basinal siltstones and limestones. Feldspars buffered acidic formation waters near where they entered the sandstone, resulting in calcite concentrated near the sandstone margins. The calcite formed near maximum burial depths of 4800 ft (1.5 km) and temperatures of 104degF (40degC) from marine pore waters with delta18O of approximately 0permil (relative to standard mean ocean water).

Most of the calcite-cemented zones are interpreted as being concretions that extend no more than a few meters laterally. Production data and geophysical log correlations suggest that some cemented zones are laterally continuous at least 1000 ft (300 m) and cause vertical reservoir compartmentalization. Laterally extensive calcite layers may be associated with the base of turbidite deposits.

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