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AAPG Bulletin, Preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 1 October 2022.

Copyright © 2022. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

DOI:10.1306/eg05272120014

Frequency, distribution, and mechanisms of evaporite karst drilling hazards in the western Delaware Basin: learnings from historical high-density exploration in Culberson County, Texas

Andrew Roark

Ahead of Print Abstract

Recently-recovered records from more than 600 historical mining borings in Culberson County, Texas, yield unique insight into evaporite karst mechanisms and drilling hazard risks in the western Delaware Basin. Lost circulation events systematically decline in frequency with increasing depth below ground surface in the Castile Formation, suggesting a strong connection to near-surface processes. Spatially, lost circulation events are more than twice as common in locations with sulfur shows compared to other areas, reflecting local sulfuric acid-enhanced karsting and the presence of secondary sulfur-bearing limestone with vuggy porosity. The lack of widespread events at great depths indicates that many voids associated with ancient basinwide hypogene karsting episodes have collapsed and filled in following Miocene-Pliocene denudation of the Guadalupe Mountains. Overall, the probability of encountering lost circulation due to karst features in this area is relatively low (

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Please cite this AAPG Bulletin Ahead of Print article as:

Andrew Roark: Frequency, distribution, and mechanisms of evaporite karst drilling hazards in the western Delaware Basin: learnings from historical high-density exploration in Culberson County, Texas, (in press; preliminary version published online Ahead of Print 01 October 2022: AAPG Bulletin, DOI:10.1306/eg05272120014.

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