The Role of Hydrogen Sulfide in the Evolution of Caves in the Guadalupe Mountains of Southeastern New Mexico
Published:January 01, 1989
Harvey R. DuChene, John S. McLean, 1989. "The Role of Hydrogen Sulfide in the Evolution of Caves in the Guadalupe Mountains of Southeastern New Mexico", Subsurface and Outcrop Examination of the Capitan Shelf Margin, Northern Delaware Basin, Paul M. Harris, George A. Grover
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Part of the Permian Capitan Reef Complex is exposed in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico and western Texas (Fig. 1). The reef complex includes the Capitan Limestone and the carbonate backreef beds of the Artesia Group that comprise a lithosome called the Capitan aquifer (Hiss, 1976). This lithosome contains well-developed solution openings that range from microscopic to voids the size of Carlsbad Cavern. This solution porosity was once thought to be caused by weak carbonic acid in the phreatic zone within the Capitan aquifer (Bretz, 1949). During the last 15 years, however, workers have obtained evidence indicating that sulfuric acid may be a major cause of carbonate dissolution (Egemeier, 1973; Jagnow, 1977; Palmer et al., 1977; Maslyn, 1979; Davis, 1980; Kirkland, 1982; and Hill, 1987). Sulfuric acid is generated when oxygen (O2) is introduced into solutions containing dissolved hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas (Hill, 1987).
Hydrogen sulfide is common in subsurface formations in southeastern New Mexico (Bjorklund and Motts, 1959; Hinds and Cunningham, 1970, pp. 4 and 7). In southeastern New Mexico and elsewhere along the subsurface trend of the Capitan reef, H2S is present in accumulations of oil and gas and in associated saline water (Schram, 1956a, p. 103, and 1956b, p. 307; Wilson, 1956, p. 179; and Roswell Geological Society Symposium Committee, 1956a, p. 181, and 1956b, p. 291).
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Subsurface and Outcrop Examination of the Capitan Shelf Margin, Northern Delaware Basin
Shelf sandstone reservoirs are becoming a more and more common exploration target. What they are, how they may be characterized, and how they differ from shoreline and deep-water deposits in the subject of this publication. Shelf sands and sandstone reservoirs are among the more poorly understood types of sandstones. Continental, shoreline and deep water sandstones have all been studied in much more depth than have shelf sands and sandstones. However, during the last fifteen years significant progress has been made in understanding shelf sands and sandstones. Studies of modern sediments have allowed us to understand many of the depositional processes active on the shelf. This book is intended to be an up-to-date summary of shelf processes and products. The papers are intended for those new to shelf sands and sandstones as well as the shelf specialist.