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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Oklahoma City Geological Society


The Shale Shaker
Vol. 63 (2012), No. 1. (July/August), Pages 38-70

Arkoma Basin Petroleum - Past, Present, and Future

Neil H. Suneson


The Arkoma Basin is a classic peripheral foreland basin bounded on the south side by a fold-and-thrust belt – the Ouachita Mountains. Thus, the basin can be viewed as the most northern, least deformed, and youngest part of a northward-migrating foreland basin that began forming in the Early Mississippian and contains the Stanley and Jackfork Groups, Johns Valley Shale, and Atoka Formation. The three oldest of these units, and much of the youngest, are now complexly deformed and were incorporated into the also northward-advancing tectonic belt. Some petroleum reservoir types occur (or should occur) in the Arkoma Basin and the Ouachita Mountains, and others are unique (or are they?) to one or the other. Applying what we know about the different reservoir types to other areas and/or other units will form the basis for future petroleum discoveries in southeast Oklahoma.

The history of Arkoma Basin and Ouachita tectonic belt hydrocarbon exploration and development started with coal and asphaltite. Early drilling for oil and gas focused on surface anticlines. During WWII, the US and Oklahoma governments produced a number of geologic maps designed to better understand the coal and petroleum resources of southeastern Oklahoma. Subsequent deeper drilling led to a better understanding of the structural geology of the area and facies relations of the different reservoir units. Most recently, advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have turned coal and shale into viable gas (and oil) reservoirs.

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