Abstract

Large-rock avalanche deposits are a common component of the basin fill within the extensional tectonic terrain of the Basin and Range; these deposits recently have been interpreted to host oil and gas within the Railroad Valley area of eastern Nevada. Large blocks of brecciated bed rock are a primary component of these avalanche deposits and are potentially excellent oil and gas reservoirs. Our work provides further insight into the emplacement and economic potential of these deposits. Exposed large-rock avalanche deposits of the Miocene Oak City Formation on the western margin of the Canyon Range, Utah, contain coherent breccia blocks up to 3.5 km long, 1 km wide, and 200 m thick. These deposits were derived from the near-vertical dipping bed rock of the adjacent Canyon Range and now are exposed as much as 5.5 km from the range front within the Sevier Desert basin. Emplacement was relatively rapid, as indicated by three well-developed breccia facies within the carbonate breccia blocks. Stratigraphically, from the base the facies include (1) matrix-rich breccia, (2) jigsaw breccia, and (3) crackle breccia. The deposits were cut and segmented by a series of syndepositional normal faults that developed during late Miocene and post-Miocene extension. Primary porosity was reduced by cement soon after burial. Cathodoluminescence cement patterns indicate that initially the basinward breccia blocks were more deeply buried relative to the water table than the breccia blocks proximal to the Canyon Range. After initial cementation, the basinward blocks were uplifted relative to the water table. Secondary porosity approaches 8% in the carbonate blocks and is greater than 14% within the jigsaw breccia. The size and porosity of these breccia blocks indicate their potential as reservoir targets.

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