Abstract

The Upper Cretaceous Frontier Formation on the Moxa Arch in the western Green River Basin, Wyoming, has had a varied diagenetic history that was controlled in part by differences in composition of detrital framework grains and in burial history. Petrographic examination of 247 thin sections from 13 cores from the south-plunging arch and adjacent deep basin is the basis for diagenetic investigation of sandstones ranging in depth from 2 km to almost 5 km. Major diagenetic events were (1) mechanical compaction by grain rearrangement and deformation of ductile grains, (2) formation of illite and mixed-layer illite-smectite rims, (3) precipitation of quartz overgrowths, (4) precipitation of calcite cement, (5) generation of secondary porosity by dissolution of feldspar, chert, biotite, and mudstone grains and calcite cement, (6) precipitation of kaolinite in primary and secondary pores, and (7) chemical compaction by intergranular pressure solution and stylolitization and additional precipitation of quartz cement. The northern and southern ends of the Moxa Arch differ in the magnitude of each of these diagenetic events. Provenance differences caused more abundant ductile rock fragments and feldspar to be deposited at the northern end of the Moxa Arch. As a result, Frontier sandstones from the northern Moxa Arch underwent more extensive mechanical compaction. In addition, feldspar dissolution and albitization buffered acid-rich basinal fluids at the northern end, resulting in greater development of secondary porosity and precipitation of calcite cement than at the southern end. Deeply buried sandstones at the southern end of the arch and in the basin contain the most abundant quartz cement because intergranular pressure solution and stylolitization liberated silica for overgrowths.

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