The Cincinnati arch is a low, broad, anticlinal fold approximately 700 miles long and 250 miles wide on which many local folds are found. The axis extends from northern Ohio and Indiana into northeastern Mississippi, and passes through central Kentucky and Tennessee. The rocks involved are chiefly limestones which range in age from Cambro-Ordovician to Lower Pennsylvanian.
Natural gas occurs on minor folds on the flanks of the arch, in lenticular reservoirs off local structures, as up-dip accumulations in reservoirs of differential porosity and up-dip terminations of reservoir rocks against unconformities. Commercial gas fields have been developed on the arch in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. The gas is found chiefly in porous or fissured limestones of Mississippian, Devonian, Silurian, and Ordovician age, and in sandstones of the Chester series of Mississippian age.
This paper is a brief survey of the stratigraphic and structural conditions which influence the occurrence and production of natural gas in the southern part of the Cincinnati Arch region.
Figures & Tables
Alberta is the only western Canadian province in which a production of natural gas and oil has been developed. Natural gas was discovered in 1885, and at present there are seven producing fields and 330 miles of main pipe lines.
Alberta is divided into eight structural provinces; four of these are gas-producing regions, one is prospective, and the others are of no interest as gas areas. The stratigraphic column has three persistent features, namely, the Palaeozoic limestone section, the profound unconformity superimposed on it, and the succeeding Mesozoic section of transgressive-regressive deposits.
The Turner Valley field is the only developed field producing from formations of Palaeozoic age, though there have been significant discoveries suggesting that other fields are present. A theory is advanced in this paper to explain a Palaeozoic origin for the heavy oil and bitumen in the basal sandstones of the Mesozoic. The gas accumulations in the basal sands were later derived from the bitumen and heavy oil. The reserves of gas in Palaeozoic rocks and the basal sands of Mesozoic age are large.
During Mesozoic time there were at least five marine transgressions of the seas, and there is a marked relation between the marine shales and the gas-bearing horizons in rocks of Mesozoic age. Gas is generally found in the sandstones immediately overlying, within, or immediately underlying the marine shales.
Gas is found in rocks of Jurassic age in the Southern Plains and the Southern Foothills. The reserves are estimated to be about 80 billion cubic feet. Only small amounts of gas are now produced from Jurassic horizons. Gas is found in marine formations of Comanche age in northern Alberta, but there are no developed fields, and the reserves are unknown. There are three gas-bearing horizons in the Colorado (Gulf series), with several fields, including the Foremost, Viking, and Medicine Hat fields. The possible reserves are large and are probably in excess of 600 billion cubic feet. The Lower Montana and Upper Montana rocks (Gulf series) produce gas over large areas, but the yields are small and the horizons are of minor importance. There are no marine rocks of post-Mesozoic age, and the only gas occurrences are small flows from lacustrine deposits.
The analyses of natural gases in Alberta when arranged according to geologic horizons and localities appear to show an increase in the proportion of higher hydrocarbons to methane in a westerly direction for a given gas-bearing horizon. This may be due to the effect on the source material of increasing metamorphism westward.