Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Geosciences

formerly Central European Journal of Geosciences

Editor-in-Chief: Jankowski, Piotr

1 Issue per year

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.696
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.736

CiteScore 2017: 0.89

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.323
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.674

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Shale depositional processes: Example from the Paleozoic Barnett Shale, Fort Worth Basin, Texas, USA

Mohamed Abouelresh
  • Institute of Reservoir Characterization and Conoco-Phillips School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA
  • Faculty of Petroleum and Mining Engineering, Suez Canal University, Suez, Egypt
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Roger Slatt
  • Institute of Reservoir Characterization and Conoco-Phillips School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2011-12-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s13533-011-0037-z


A long held geologic paradigm is that mudrocks and shales are basically the product of ‘hemipelagic rain’ of silt- and/or clay-sized, detrital, biogenic and particulate organic particles onto the ocean floor over long intervals of time. However, recently published experimental and field-based studies have revealed a plethora of micro-sedimentary features that indicate these common fine-grained rocks also could have been transported and/or reworked by unidirectional currents. In this paper, we add to this growing body of knowledge by describing such features from the Paleozoic Barnett Shale in the Fort Worth Basin, Texas, U.S.A. which suggests transport and deposition was from hyperpycnal, turbidity, storm and/or contour currents, in addition to hemipelagic rain. On the basis of a variety of sedimentary textures and structures, six main sedimentary facies have been defined from four 0.3 meter intervals in a 68m (223 ft) long Barnett Shale core: massive mudstone, rhythmic mudstone, ripple and low-angle laminated mudstone, graded mudstone, clay-rich facies, and spicule-rich facies. Current-induced features of these facies include mm- to cmscale cross- and parallel-laminations, scour surfaces, clastic/biogenic particle alignment, and normal- and inverse-size grading. A spectrum of vertical facies transitions and bed types indicate deposition from waxing-waning flows rather than from steady ‘rain’ of particles to the sea floor. Detrital sponge spicule-rich facies suggests transport to the marine environment as hypopycnal or hyperpycnal flows and reversal in buoyancy by transformation from concentrated to dilute flows; alternatively the spicules could have originated by submarine slumping in front of contemporaneous shallow marine sponge reefs, and then transported basinward as turbidity current flows. The occurrence of dispersed biogenic/organic remains and inversely size graded mudstones also support a hyperpycnal and/or turbidity flow origin for a significant part of the strata. These processes and facies reported in this paper are probably present in other organic-rich shales.

Keywords: Shale; Barnett; rhythmic; hyperpycnal; primary sedimentary micro-structures

  • [1] O’Brien N., Slatt R., Argillaceous Rock Atlas. Springer Verlag, 1990 Google Scholar

  • [2] Macquaker J.H.S, Gawthorpe R.L., Mudstone lithofacies in the Kimmeridge Clay Formation, Wessex Basin. Southern England: implications for the origin and controls of the distribution of mudstones. J. Sedimen. Petrol., 1993, 63, 1129–1143 Google Scholar

  • [3] Macquaker J.H.S., A lithofacies study of the Lower Oxford Clay, an example of sediment bypass in mudstone successions. J. Geol. Soc. London, 1994, 151, 161–172 http://dx.doi.org/10.1144/gsjgs.151.1.0161CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [4] Macquaker J.H.S, Taylor K.G., A sequencestratigraphic interpretation of a mudstone-dominated succession: the Lower Jurassic Cleveland Ironstone Formation, UK. J. Geol. Soc. London, 1996, 153, 759–770 http://dx.doi.org/10.1144/gsjgs.153.5.0759CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [5] Schieber J., Distribution and deposition of mudstone facies in the Upper Devonian Sonyea Group of New York. J. Sediment. Res., 1999, 69, 909–925 Google Scholar

  • [6] Schieber J., Southard J.B., Bedload Transport of Mud by Floccule Ripples- Direct Observation of Ripple Migration Processes and their Implications. Geology, 2009, 37, 483–486 http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G25319A.1CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [7] Schieber J., and Yawar Z., A New Twist on Mud Deposition — Mud Ripples in Experiment and Rock Record. The Sedimentary Record, 2009, 7, 4–8 Google Scholar

  • [8] Stow D.A.V., Bowen A.J., Origin of lamination in deep sea, fine-grained sediments. Nature, 1978, 274: 324–328 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/274324a0CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [9] Stow D.A.V., Shanmugam G., Sequence of structures in fine-grained turbidites: comparison of recent deep sea and ancient flysch sediments. Sediment. Geol., 1980, 25, 23–40 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0037-0738(80)90052-4CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [10] Slatt R., Thompson P. R., Submarine slope mudstone facies, Cozy Dell Formation (Middle Eocene), California., Geo-Mar. Lett., 1985, 5, 39–45 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02629796CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [11] Mulder T., Chapron E., Flood deposits in continental and marine environments: character and significance. In: Slatt R., Zavala C., Sediment transfer from shelf to deep water revisiting the delivery mechanisms. AAPG Spec. Publ., 2010 Google Scholar

  • [12] Nakajima T., Hyperpycnites deposited 700 km away from river mouths in the Central Japan Sea. J. Sediment. Res., 2006, 76, 60–73 http://dx.doi.org/10.2110/jsr.2006.13Google Scholar

  • [13] Soynika O.A., Slatt R., Identification and microstratigraphy of hyperpycnites and turbidites in Cretaceous Lewis Shale, Wyoming. Sedimentology, 2008, 55, 1117–1133 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3091.2007.00938.xWeb of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [14] Bhattacharya J.P., MacEachern J.A., Hyperpycnal rivers and prodeltaic shelves in the Cretaceous seaway of North America. J. Sediment. Res., 2009, 79, 184–209 http://dx.doi.org/10.2110/jsr.2009.026CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [15] Singh P., Lithofacies and sequence stratigraphic framework of the Barnett Shale, northeast Texas. PhD Thesis, University of Oklahoma, Norman, 2008 Google Scholar

  • [16] Bohacs K., Sequence stratigraphy in fine-grained rocks at the field to flow-unit scale: insights for correlation, mapping and genetic controls. In: Applied Geoscience Conference, US Gulf Region, Mudstones as unconventional shale gas/oil reservoirs, Houston Geological Society 2010 Google Scholar

  • [17] Slatt R., Philp P.R., O’Brien N., Abousleiman Y., Singh P., Eslinger E.V., Perez R., R. Portas, et al., Pore-to-regional scale, integrated characterization workflow for unconventional gas shales. In: Breyer J. (Eds.), Shale Reservoirs-Giant resources for the 21st century. AAPG Mem. 97, 2011 Google Scholar

  • [18] Schieber J, Southard J., Thaisen K., Accretion of mudstone beds from migrating floccule ripples. Science, 2007, 318, 1760–1763 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1147001Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [19] Slatt R., O’Brien N., Pore types in the Barnett and Woodford gas shales: contribution to understanding gas storage and migration pathways in fine-grained rocks. AAPG Bull., (in press) Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [20] Henry J. D., Stratigraphy of the Barnett Shale (Mississippian) and associated reefs in the northern Fort Worth basin. In: Martin, C. A. (Eds.), Petroleum Geology of the Fort Worth Basin and Bend Arch Area. Dallas Geological Society, 1982, 157–178 Google Scholar

  • [21] Bowker K. A., Barnett shale gas production, Fort Worth Basin: issues and discussion, AAPG Bull., 2007, 91, 523–533 Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [22] Hickey J.J., Henk B., Lithofacies summary of the Mississippian Barnett Shale, Mitchell 2 T.P. Sims well, Wise County, Texas, AAPG Bull., 2007, 91, 437–443 Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [23] Loucks R.G., Ruppel S.C., Mississippian Barnett Shale: lithofacies and depositional setting of a deepwater shale-gas succession in the Fort Worth Basin, Texas. AAPG Bull., 2007, 91, 579–601 http://dx.doi.org/10.1306/11020606059CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [24] Arbenz, J. K., Structure Framework of the Ouachita Mountains, in Suneson, N.H. (eds.), Stratigraphic and structural 624 evolution of the Ouachita mountains and Arkoma basin, southeastern Oklahoma and West-Central Arkansas: 625 Application to petroleum Exploration. Oklahoma Geological Survey, 112 A, 4–40 Google Scholar

  • [25] Abouelresh M., Slatt R., Lithofacies and Sequence Stratigraphy of the Barnett Shale in the east-central Fort Worth Basin, Texas, USA. AAPG Bull., (in press) Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • [26] Mazzullo S.J., Wilhite B.W., Woolsey I.W., Petroleum reservoirs within a spiculite-dominated depositional sequence: Cowley Formation (Mississippian: Lower Carboniferous), south-central Kansas. AAPG Bull., 2009, 93, 1649–1689 http://dx.doi.org/10.1306/06220909026Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [27] Monroe R. M., Breyer J. A., Shale wedges and stratal architecture, Barnett Shale (Mississippian), southern Fort Worth basin, Texas. In: Breyer J. (Ed.), Shale Reservoirs, Giant resources for the 21st century: AAPG Mem., 2011, 97, in press Google Scholar

  • [28] Ruppel S.C., Loucks R.G., Wright W., Depositional history and sedimentology of the barnett shale in the ft. worth basin. Paper presented at The Barnett Shale-Gas Play of the Fort Worth Basin, STARR Industry Seminar, Midland, Texas, USA, 8th November, 2006 Google Scholar

  • [29] Pollastro R. M., Jarvie D.M., Ronald J. H., Adams C.W., Geologic framework of the Mississippian Barnett Shale, Barnett-Paleozoic total petroleum system, Bend arch-Fort Worth Basin, Texas. APG Bull., 2007, 91, 405–436 http://dx.doi.org/10.1306/10300606008Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [30] Mulder T., Syvitski J.P.M., Turbidity currents generated at river mouths during exceptional discharges to the world oceans: J. Geol., 1995, 103, 285–299 http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/629747CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [31] Russell A.J., Knudsen O., An ice-contact rhythmite (turbidite) succession deposited during the November 1996 catastrophic outburst flood (jökulhlaup), SkeiÐarárjökull, Iceland. Sediment. Geol., 1999, 127, 1–10 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0037-0738(99)00024-XCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [32] Bouma A.H., Sedimentology of some flysch deposits: A graphic approach to facies interpretation. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1962 Google Scholar

  • [33] Mulder T., Migeon S., Savoye B., Faugeres J. C., Inversely-graded turbidite sequences in the deep Mediterranean: A record of deposits by flood generated turbidity currents? Geo-Mar. Lett., 2001, 21, 86–93 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s003670100071CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [34] Zavala C., Gamero H., Arcuri M., Lofting rhythmites: A diagnostic feature for the recognition of hyperpycnal deposits. Paper presented at the GSA Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 22–25 October, 2006 Google Scholar

  • [35] Zavala1 C., Arcuri M., Gamero H., Contreras C., Di Meglio M., A genetic facies tract for the analysis of sustained hyperpycnal flow deposits. In: Slatt R., Zavala C. (Eds.), Sediment transfer from shelf to deep water….revisiting the delivery mechanisms, AAPG Spec. Publ., (in press) Google Scholar

  • [36] Pritchard D., Gladstone C., Reversing buoyancy in turbidity currents: developing a hypothesis for flow transformation and for deposit facies and architecture. Mar. Petrol. Geol., 2009, 26, 1997–2010 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2009.02.010Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [37] Ross C. A., Ross J.R.P., Late Paleozoic transgressiveregressive deposition. In: Wilgus C.W. et al., (Eds.), Sea Level Changes: An Integrated Approach: SEPM Special Publication, 1988, 42, 227–247 Google Scholar

  • [38] Van Wagoner J.C., R. M. Mitchum Jr., K. M. Campion, V. D. Rahmanian, Siliciclastic sequence stratigraphy in well logs, core, and outcrops: concepts for high-resolution correlation of time and facies. AAPG Methods in Exploration Series, 1990, 7, 55 Google Scholar

  • [39] Haq B. U., Schutter S.R., A Chronology of Paleozoic Sea-Level Changes, Science, 2008, 322, 64 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1161648CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [40] Montgomery S. L., Jarvie D.M., Bowker K.A., Pollastro R.M., Mississippian Barnett Shale, Fort Worth Basin, North-Central Texas: Gas-158, Shale Play with Multi-Tcf Potential, AAPG Bull., E&P Note, 2005, 89, 155–175 http://dx.doi.org/10.1306/09170404042CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [41] Lane H. R., DeKeyser T.L., Paleogeography of the late early Mississippian (Tournaisian 3) in the central and south-western United States. In: Fouch T.D., Magathan E.R. (Eds.), Paleozoic paleogeography of west central United States: Denver, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Section SEPM, 1980, 149–159 Google Scholar

  • [42] Gutschick R. C., Sandberg C.A., Mississippian continental margins of the conterminous United States. In: Stanley D.J., Moore G.T., (Eds.), the shelf break: Critical interface on continental margins, SEPM Special Publication, 1983, 33, 79–96 Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2011-12-14

Published in Print: 2011-12-01

Citation Information: Open Geosciences, Volume 3, Issue 4, Pages 398–409, ISSN (Online) 2391-5447, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s13533-011-0037-z.

Export Citation

© 2011 Versita Warsaw. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in