In the past decade, more than 20 new natural gas fields have been discovered in laterally discontinuous dolomites of the Upper Ordovician Black River Group in south-central New York. The dolomites form around basement-rooted wrench faults that are detectable on seismic data. Most fields occur in and around elongate fault-bounded structural lows interpreted to be negative flower structures. Away from these faults, the formation is composed of impermeable limestone and forms the lateral seal for the reservoirs. In most cases, the faults die out within the overlying Trenton Limestone and Utica Shale. Most porosity occurs in saddle dolomite-coated vugs, breccias, and fractured zones. Matrix porosity is uncommon in the Black River cores described for this study.
The patchy distribution around basement-rooted faults and geochemical and fluid-inclusion analyses supports a fault-related hydrothermal origin for the saddle and matrix dolomites. This play went for many years without detection because of its unconventional structural setting (i.e., structural lows versus highs). Using the appropriate integrated structural-stratigraphic-diagenetic model, more hydrothermal dolomite natural gas reservoirs are likely to be discovered in the Black River of New York and in carbonates around the world.