X-ray fluorescence chemostratigraphy of the Cenomanian–Turonian Woodbine and Eagle Ford Groups in the southern parts of the East Texas Basin highlights significant mudstone chemical heterogeneities that commonly are difficult to observe or quantify at the macroscale. Several key elements, namely, Ca, Si, Mo, Mn, and Ni, were correlated to depositional conditions and used in a hierarchical cluster analysis to characterize five chemical facies (i.e., “chemofacies”) across 10 cored intervals of the Woodbine and Eagle Ford Groups: (1) argillaceous, organic-matter poor; (2) transitional, organic-matter poor; (3) transitional, organic-matter moderate; (4) calcareous, organic-matter rich; and (5) calcareous, organic-matter moderate. Characterizations of organic matter richness, mineralogy, and environmental conditions of deposition were established by correlating between key element abundances, total organic carbon measurements, x-ray diffraction measurements, and petrographic observations of lithologic composition, bioturbation, and sedimentary textures. Combined analysis of elemental geochemistry, stratigraphy, and petrographically observed sedimentary textures indicates that all chemofacies were deposited in an intrashelf basin above storm wave base. The most organic-rich chemofacies was deposited on a dominantly dysoxic distal shelf. Mudstone organic matter enrichment is driven dominantly by the minimization of siliciclastic dilution and secondarily enhanced by oxygen restriction.
Regional correlations of chemofacies within a sequence stratigraphic framework developed from previous outcrop and subsurface work indicate a clear relationship between interpreted stratigraphy and chemofacies deposition. Generally, the highstand sequence sets of the Woodbine Group and upper Eagle Ford formation are dominated by mineralogically clay-rich, organic matter–lean, siliciclastic sedimentation and contain poor-quality source rock. Conversely, the transgressive sequence set of the lower Eagle Ford formation is dominated by organic matter–rich pelagic carbonate accumulation and contains excellent-quality source rock.