ABSTRACT

The Fort Worth basin in northcentral Texas is a major shale-gas producer, yet its subsidence history and relationship to the Ouachita fold-thrust belt have not been well understood. We studied the depositional patterns of the basin during the late Paleozoic by correlating well logs and constructing structure and isopach maps. We then modeled the one-dimensional (1-D) and two-dimensional subsidence history of the basin and constrained its relationship to the Ouachita orogen. Because the super-Middle Pennsylvanian strata were largely eroded in the region, adding uncertainty to the subsidence reconstruction, we used PetroMod 1-D to conduct thermal-maturation modeling to constrain the post-Middle Pennsylvanian burial and exhumation history by matching the modeled vitrinite reflectance with measured vitrinite reflectance along five depth profiles. Our results of depositional patterns show that the tectonic uplift of the Muenster uplift to the northeast of the basin influenced subsidence as early as the Middle Mississippian, and the Ouachita orogen became the primary tectonic load by the late Middle Pennsylvanian when the depocenter shifted to the east. Our results show that the basin experienced 3.7–5.2 km (12,100–17,100 ft) of burial during the Pennsylvanian, and the burial depth deepens toward the east. We attributed the causes of deep Pennsylvanian burial and its spatial variation to flexural subsidence that continued into the Late Pennsylvanian in response to the growth of the Ouachita orogen and southeastward suturing of Laurentia and Gondwana. The modeling results also suggest that the Mississippian Barnett Shale reached the gas maturation window during the Middle–Late Pennsylvanian.

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