Beaufortian strata (Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous) in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA) are a focus of exploration since the 1994 discovery of the nearby Alpine oil field (>400 MMBO). These strata include the Kingak Shale, a succession of depositional sequences influenced by rift opening of the Arctic Ocean Basin. Interpretation of sequence stratigraphy and depositional facies from a regional two-dimensional seismic grid and well data allows the definition of four sequence sets that each displays unique stratal geometries and thickness trends across NPRA.
A Lower to Middle Jurassic sequence set includes numerous transgressive-regressive sequences that collectively built a clastic shelf in north-central NPRA. Along the south-facing, lobate shelf margin, condensed shales in transgressive systems tracts downlap and coalesce into a basinal condensed section that is likely an important hydrocarbon source rock. An Oxfordian–Kimmeridgian sequence set, deposited during pulses of uplift on the Barrow arch, includes multiple transgressive-regressive sequences that locally contain well-winnowed, shoreface sandstones at the base of transgressive systems tracts. These shoreface sandstones and overlying shales, deposited during maximum flooding, form stratigraphic traps that are the main objective of exploration in the Alpine play in NPRA. A Valanginian sequence set includes at least two transgressive-regressive sequences that display relatively distal characteristics, suggesting high relative sea level. An important exception is the presence of a basal transgressive systems tract that locally contains shoreface sandstones of reservoir quality. A Hauterivian sequence set includes two transgressive-regressive sequences that constitute a shelf-margin wedge developed as the result of tectonic uplift along the Barrow arch during rift opening of the Arctic Ocean Basin. This sequence set displays stratal geometries suggesting incision and synsedimentary collapse of the shelf margin.