Petroleum Geology of Cook Inlet Basin, Alaska—An Exploration Model1
Oil exploration commenced onshore adjacent to lower Cook Inlet on the Iniskin Peninsula in 1900, shifted with considerable success to upper Cook Inlet from 1957 through 1965, then returned to lower Cook Inlet in 1977 with the COST well and Federal OCS sale. Lower Cook Inlet COST 1 well, drilled to a total depth of 3,776 m, penetrated the tops of Upper Cretaceous, Lower Cretaceous, and Upper Jurassic strata at 832, 1,541, and 2,112 m, respectively. Basinwide unconformities are present in this well at the tops of the Upper Cretaceous, Lower Cretaceous, and Upper Jurassic rocks. Sandstone of potential reservoir quality occurs in the Cretaceous and lower Tertiary rocks. All siltstones and shales analyzed are low (0 to 0.5 wt. %) in oil-prone organic matter, and only coals are high in humic organic matter. At total depth, vitrinite readings reached a maximum average reflectance of 0.65. Several indications of hydrocarbons were present.
Oil analyses suggest that oils from the major fields of the Cook Inlet region, most of which produce from the Tertiary Hemlock Conglomerate, have a common source. More detailed work on stable carbon isotope ratios and the distribution of gasoline-range and heavy (C12+) hydrocarbons confirm the genetic relation among the major fields. In addition, oils from Jurassic rocks under the Iniskin Peninsula and from the Hemlock Conglomerate at the southwestern tip of the Kenai lowland are members of the same or a very similar oil family. The middle Jurassic strata of the Iniskin Peninsula are moderately rich in organic carbon (0.5 to 1.5 wt. %) and yield shows of oil and gas in wells and in surface seeps. Extractable hydrocarbons from this strata are similar in chemical and isotopic composition to the Cook Inlet oils. Organic matter in Cretaceous and Tertiary rocks is thermally immature in all wells analyzed.
Oil reservoirs in the major producing fields are of Tertiary age and unconformably overlie Jurassic rocks; the pre-Tertiary unconformity may be significant in exploration for new oil reserves. The uncomformable relation between reservoir rocks and likely Middle Jurassic source rocks also implies a delay in the generation and expulsion of oil from Jurassic until late Tertiary time when localized basin subsidence and thick sedimentary fill brought older, deeper rocks to the temperature required for petroleum generation. Reservoir porosities, crude oil properties, the type of oil field traps and the tectonic framework of the oil fields in the west flank of the basin provide evidence used to reconstruct an oil migration route. The route is inferred to commence deep in the truncated Middle Jurassic rocks and pass through the porous West Foreland Formation in the McArthur River field area to a stratigraphic trap in the Oligocene Hemlock Conglomerate and the Oligocene part of the Tyonek Formation at the end of the Miocene time. Pliocene deformation shut off this route and created localized structural traps, into which the oil moved by tertiary migration to form the Middle Ground Shoal, McArthur River and Trading Bay oil fields. Oil generation continued into the Pliocene, but this higher API gravity oil migrated along a different route to the Granite Point field.
Figures & Tables
The energy and mineral resources of the vast Pacific basin and its neighboring land areas play a vital role in meeting the ever-growing needs of society worldwide. Building on the foundation of a highly successful conference held in 1978, this volume contains 51 of the 135 papers presented there. Subjects included are general and specific in nature--oil, gas, and coal resources; geothermal fields, uranium; tin; evaporites, trace elements; water resources; magma energy and fuels from magma. Geological and geophysical techniques, and also the new tool of remote sending for petroleum and minerals exploration are represented. Tectonics, structure fundamentals, subsurface hazards, international treaties and the law of the deep sea are discussed. Seventeen countries and regions are represented in these papers: Thailand, Nicaragua, the United States, Japan, Peru, Antarctica, El Salvador, Australia, Mexico, Taiwan, New Zealand, China, Chile, Indonesia, Canada, and the Pacific Ocean.