To understand production from low resistivity-high porosity Mississippian chat reservoirs in south-central Kansas it is necessary to understand the nature of deposition and diagenesis, how tectonics is a factor, the lithofacies controls on petrophysical properties, and log response to these properties. The initial mudstones to sponge-spicule wacke-packstones were deposited in transgressive-regressive (T-R) cycles on a shelf to shelf margin setting, resulting in a series of shallowing-upward cycles. Sponge-spicule content appears to increase upward with increasing cycle thickness.
After early silicification, inter- and post-Mississippian subaerial exposure resulted in further diagenesis, including sponge-spicule dissolution, vuggy porosity development in moldic-rich rocks, and autobrecciation. Meteoric water infiltration is limited in depth below the exposure surface and in distance downdip into unaltered, cherty Cowley Formation facies. Areas of thicker preserved chat and increased diagenesis can be correlated with structural lineaments and, in some areas, with recurrent basement block movement. Combination of folding or block fault movement prior to or during development of the basal Pennsylvanian unconformity, sponge-spicule concentration, and possibly thickness of overlying bioclastic wacke-grainstones resulted in variable reservoir properties and the creation of pods of production separated by nonproductive cherty dolomite mudstones. These events also resulted in alteration of the depositional cycles to produce a series of lithofacies that exhibit unique petrophysical properties.
From bottom to top in a complete cycle seven lithofacies are present: (1) argillaceous dolomite mudstone, (2) argillaceous dolomite mudstone that has chert nodules, (3) clean dolomite mudstone that has nodular chert, (4) nodular to bedded chert, (5) autoclastic chert, (6) autoclastic chert that has clay infill, and (7) bioclastic wacke-grainstone. The uppermost cycle was terminated by another lithofacies, a chert conglomerate of Mississippian and/or Pennsylvanian age. The chert facies exhibit porosities ranging from 25 to 50% and permeabilities greater than 5 md. The cherty dolomite mudstones, argillaceous dolomite mudstones, and bioclastic wacke-grainstones exhibit nonreservoir properties.
Reservoir production, numerical simulation, and whole core data indicate fracturing can be present in chat reservoirs and can enhance permeability by as much as an order of magnitude. Capillary pressure data indicate the presence of microporosity and can explain high water saturations and low resistivity observed in wire-line logs. Relative permeabilities to oil decrease rapidly for saturations greater than 60% and may be influenced by dual pore systems. Archie cementation exponents increase from 1.8 for mudstones to more than 2.5 in the cherts that have increasing sponge-spicule mold and vug content. Detailed modified Pickett plot analysis of logs reveals critical aspects of chat character and can provide reliable indices of reservoir properties and pay delineation. Models developed provide additional insight into the chat of south-central Kansas and understanding of the nature of controls on shallow-shelf chert reservoir properties.