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The Origin of Red Wing Creek Structure: McKenzie County, North Dakota
The discovery of oil, in a highly deformed and uplifted structure in the Williston basin in 1972, set off a wild lease play and great speculation as to the origin of this unusual feature. In Red Wing Creek structure, Mississippian carbonates and evaporites are uplifted 3,000 feet above regional in a basin characterized by a lack of structural features and uniform sedimentation. Moreover, the deformed Mississippian through Triassic strata are underlain and overlain by relatively undeformed formations. Red Wing Creek structure is circular in plan view and sombrero shaped in cross-sectional view. It contains three main structural components: a central uplift surrounded by a ring depression which is in turn, surrounded by an outer rim. The central uplift is the area of greatest deformation and is composed of steeply dipping beds which are highly faulted. The core of the central uplift is so badly brecciated as to nearly preclude formation identification. The ring depression is a graben resulting from tensional forces created by the inward movement of rock toward the central uplift. The outer rim contains segments of a rim anticline and normal faults. Gross structural geometry is consistent with that of a typical cryptoexplosion feature. The detection of intensely fractured quartz grains in drill cuttings and shatter cones in cores taken in the central uplift confirm this identification. Red Wing Creek structure was probably caused by the hypervelocity impact of a very large meteor.
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