ABSTRACT

The Upper Ordovician Montoya Group crops out in southern New Mexico and westernmost Texas and records predominantly subtidal deposition on a gently dipping carbonate ramp that was subsequently almost entirely dolomitized. The Montoya Group is a third-order composite sequence composed of six regionally correlative, shallowing-upward, third-order depositional sequences (M0–M5). Sequence M0 has sandstone at its base that is overlain by skeletal packstone-grainstone. Sequence M0 occurs only locally and was likely deposited in a topographic low formed during regional development of the unconformity following El Paso Group deposition. Sequence M1, marking the initial widespread transgression over the Ellenburger unconformity, consists of sandstone updip that passes downramp into skeletal packstone. The highstand systems tract (HST) of M1 consists of a prograding skeletal grainstone that was subaerially exposed upramp. Sequence M2, which contains the second-order maximum flooding surface, has abundant subtidal cherty carbonate at its base, which shallows upward into a widespread, prograding coral packstone-grainstone in the HST. Sequence M3 also contains abundant downramp chert that passes upramp into an aggrading crinoidal shoal and farther upramp into peritidal mudstone. Sequence M4 records an extensive basinward shift in facies as peritidal burrowed and cryptalgalaminated mudstone prograded over subtidal carbonate. Sequence M5 is only locally developed downramp and consists of crinoidal grainstone with abundant evidence of subaerial exposure. A regional unconformity separates the Montoya Group from the Silurian Fusselman Dolostone or younger units. Parasequences (meter-scale cycles) recording low- to moderate-amplitude relative sea level fluctuations are ubiquituous features at individual outcrops but are difficult to correlate regionally.

The abundance of syn- or early depositional chert in the subtidal facies indicates that the Montoya Group was deposited within a region of strong regional upwelling along southern Laurentia. This early formed chert was the reservoir facies in a successful Upper Ordovician gas play in Ward and Reeves Counties, Texas.

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