Abstract

We have summarized the threefold significance of karst unconformity boundary: (1) The development of a sequence stratigraphic model for the Devonian Woodford Shale Formation is transferable to the Upper Wolfcamp in the Permian Basin, (2) demonstration of the more general application of that model beyond the Woodford to other resource shales, and (3) illustration of a modification of common sequence stratigraphy models specifically to unconventional resource shales. During early transgression, marine encroachment into the paleolows created anoxic, hypersaline marine “pockets” conducive to the preservation of organic matter. The result is deposition of thick, laterally discontinuous, organic-rich strata stratigraphically at or near the unconformity surface. This pattern of deposition and distribution of the organic-rich shale has been well-documented in the Devonian Woodford Shale and is applicable to other resource shales, in this case to the Permian Upper Wolfcamp Formation in the Central Basin Platform of the Permian Basin. The stratigraphy of the distribution of the Upper Wolfcamp on top of the Upper/Middle Wolfcamp Unconformity is similar to that of the Woodford, suggesting a similar origin and distribution. The resulting stratigraphy in both cases resembles that of the classical Exxon sea slug model except that rather than a single organic-rich deposit defining the condensed section and maximum flooding surface, a second organic-rich deposit occurs stratigraphically lower, at or near the unconformity surface. This theoretical summary can support the discovery of potential drillable target zones in the Woodford Shale and the Wolfcamp Shale.

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