The Lower Cretaceous Mowry and Skull Creek Shales and their equivalents are among the major source rocks in the northern Rocky Mountains-Great Plains region. They are the major source of hydrocarbons in the Lower Cretaceous Muddy Sandstone of the Powder River basin. This sandstone has a geographic distribution similar to that of the Mowry and much of the Skull Creek.

Illite/smectite mixed-layer clay in the Mowry and Skull Creek Shales of eastern Montana and western North Dakota is unaltered. No significant amounts of hydrocarbons have ever been found in the Muddy Sandstone of this area. Hydrocarbons in the Muddy Sandstone occur within or immediately adjacent to areas in which the smectite component of the illite/smectite in the Mowry and Skull Creek Shales has undergone alteration to illite during burial diagenesis. Anomalous decreases in the total organic carbon content of the Mowry and Skull Creek Shales lie within areas of illite/smectite alteration and coincide with the deeper parts of structural basins which developed after deposition of the Mowry and Skull Creek. These regional variations in illite/smectite alteration and total organic carbon content reflect thermal maturation and are not provenance controlled. They are useful indicators of areas where the potential source rocks have been subjected to temperatures adequate to generate hydrocarbons. The degree of illite/smectite diagenesis in the Mowry and Skull Creek of the northern Rocky Mountains-Great Plains region is thus of exploration significance in the search of hydrocarbons in this area.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.

First Page Preview

First page PDF preview
You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.