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30
BRI Bulletin
Little Creek Structure, T9N-R2E, La Salle Parish, Louisiana
John B. Echols 1 and Richard P. McCulloh 2
Abstract
Little Creek is perhaps the most enigmatic struc-
ture in Louisiana. It shows a conjunction of two
seemingly contradictory aspects: an areally exten-
sive subsurface domal structure, on the crest of which
is an unconformity with mappable angularity in the
Upper Cretaceous chalk interval; and an overlying,
compact collapse structure in Cenozoic strata, which
crops out at the surface. The authors are aware of
three unpublished hypotheses for the origin of this
structure: (1) piracy of a preexisting piercement-type
salt structure, (2) astrobleme, and (3) deep-seated
subsurface igneous diapirism. A hybrid hypothesis
combining any of these and possibly other influences
may be viable. Oil and gas fields on the flanks of the
larger, subsurface domal structure have produced
since at least the 1920's.
Introduction
The Little Creek structure is a compact collapse
structure approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) in diam-
eter, located in the central part of the west one-half
of Township 9 North, Range 2 East, La Salle Parish,
Louisiana (Figure 1). At the surface, the Little Creek
structure is defined by the collapse area (3 mi
2
; 8
km
2
). Sixty years ago, the structure was mapped,
described, and reported (Fisk, 1938) by the Louisi-
ana Geological Survey, in conjunction with early
geologic mapping of some of the Louisiana parishes.
Fisk's (1938) geologic mapping of Little Creek (Fig-
ure 2) reveals Miocene strata in the central portion
of the surface structure, surrounded by Oligocene
Vicksburg beds that, in turn, are surrounded by sedi-
ments of the Eocene Jackson (Danville Landing). In
addition, in the central area, Little Creek contains
Pleistocene terrace-associated strata and Holocene
alluvium flanking the courses of southward-flowing
streams heading in or passing through the central
'Basin Research Institute, Louisiana State University, Room 208
Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex, Baton Rouge, La. 70803
'Louisiana Geological Survey, Louisiana State University, P.O. Box
G, Baton Rouge, La. 70803
region of the structure. The structure is ringed, or
bounded, by down-to-the-center faulting (Figure 2).
The central strata of the surface structure were
originally identified by Fisk (1938) as Catahoula
Formation, apparently because of underestimation
of the magnitude of the near-surface fault displace-
ment of the structure; more recently, these strata have
been identified by well-log correlation as probably
belonging to the Carnahan Bayou Member of the
Fleming Formation (J. E. Rogers, 1982, personal
communication) which is lithologically very similar
to the Catahoula. Geomorphically, the surface
expression consists of a circularly disposed array of
anastomosing, discontinuous ridges. Fisk (1938)
indicated it is topographically the highest feature in
La Salle Parish.
LA SALLE PARISH
\
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Figure 1-Location map (redrawn and adapted from Snead
and McCulloh, 1984) of suiface Little Creek structure
mapped by Fisk (1938).
BRI Bulletin
I
Miocene Carnahan Bayou
L..-._---l Member (?), Fleming Formation
I Oligocene Vicksburg
iii I Eocene Jackson
2
I
3 kms
J
N
 
Figure 2-Portion of Fisk's sU/1ace geologic map encompassing Little Creek structure (after Fisk, 1938).
Following 1. E. Rogers (1982; cf Figure 7, and Snead and McCulloh, 1984), the central fill here is tentatively
identified as Carnahan Bayou Member of the Fleming Formation rather than Fisk's original designation of
the unit as Catahoula Formation. Quatemal)) units not listed in the legend comprise various Pleistocene
terraces (white) and Holocene alluvium (stippled).
31
32
BRI Bulletin
Regional Setting
Regionally, the Little Creek structure lies near
the northwestern end of the La Salle Arch, which
extends approximately 60 miles (100 km) southeast
into Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. Little Creek, in its
entirety, is located midway between the Monroe
uplift to the northeast, and the Sabine Platform to
the west-southwest. The subsurface (domal) expres-
sion of Little Creek, based on the area of thinning of
upper Cretaceous strata over the structure (Figure
3), is large, having an area of 1785 mi
2
(4625 km
2
).
Many Paleocene-Eocene Wilcox and younger oil-
producing reservoirs exist above this structure, and
along the northwest-southeast trending LaSalle Arch
(Figure 3).
II.
- -=--====-
These numerous oil and gas fields have produced
since at least the 1920's. In classic form, reservoirs
of similar age and lithology provide extensive oil and
gas production around the flanks of the larger, sub-
surface expression of the Little Creek structure. These
producing areas are densely drilled, but the surface
collapse structure appears to have been drilled by
only a few wildcats. An extensive regional residual
gravity maximum of township proportions (Figure
4) exists directly beneath Little Creek, covering an
area of approximately 70 mi
2
(180 km
2
). The Boeuf
River Wrench Fault is 12 miles (19 km) to the south-
east (Figure 5).
Figure 3-Upper Cretaceous isopach map (IOO-ft contour interval) illustrating the
structural riln around the Little Creek structure and thinning from the rinl onto the
central area of the structure.
BRI Bulletin
R1E R2E R3E
!
i
5 miles
Figure 4-Residual gravity map showing the large gravity maximum surrounding the Little Creek structure (unknown
source, file copy).
33
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T
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34
BRI Bulletin
1W 1E 2
10
,.
13
8
IN
11
• Oil Field
Gas Field
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12E
 
10
5 10 15
kilometers
Contours: Top Wilcox
Col. = 500'
Figure 5-Regional map showing location of the Little Creek slruclure in relation to oil and gasJields and wrench
faulting (modified from Echols. 1997).
BRI Bulletin
35
Discussion
Figure 6 locates the Little Creek structure on
the Wilcox Platform (Echols, 1997) as part of the
much larger Toledo Bend Flexure (Swain and Ander-
son, 1993). Figure 6 also locates the position of the
LaSalle Arch as part of the Toledo Bend Flexure.
Swain and Anderson (1993) state that the salt is thin
to absent on the Toledo Bend Flexure. Accordingly,
there may be no salt beneath the Little Creek struc-
ture. A portion of the southeastern edge of the
Winnfield Salt Dome Basin (13 salt domes) may lie
in Winn Parish, secs. 15,16,21, and 22, T10N-R1E,
approximately 5 miles (8 km) almost directly west
of the surface expression of the crest of the subsur-
face Little Creek structure. It is here that Huner
(1939) described the surface expression of the "Cas-
tor Creek Saline."
The Castor Creek Saline is described by Huner
(1939) as a "white, glaring salt flat, roughl y circu-
lar, and about one-eighth of a mile in diameter. The
surface is covered with clayey sand and salt
crystals .... The saline is encircled by a dense growth
of palmettoes" (p. 270). He also states that "it re-
sembles in all respects such salines as occur over
Drake's salt dome and Cedar Creek salt dome," and
"A very peculiar and puzzling fact is that no test
wells have been sunk into this saline. Apparently the
possible occurrence of an anomalous structure here
has not been considered in the development of the
Tullos-Urania oil field" (p. 270).
The residual gravity map (Figure 4) does not in-
dicate a salt dome at this location. Saline fluids re-
sponsible for the accumulation of salt at the Cas-
tor Creek Saline may result from leakage of brine
from the Cockfield aquifer at the contact with the
overlying Vicksburg-Jackson confining unit (J. E.
Rogers, 1998, personal communication). Huner
(1939) invoked faulting as the means of vertical mi-
gration.
J J. E. Rogers has mentioned a potential memory of a conversation
with a geologist or other technical profess ional who was
involved in the drilling and/or logging of the Bodcaw #30 LLS
Bodcaw Fee well (d. Figure 7) , and who communicated that
the diplog run for that well indi cated steep dips inside the
collapse struclUre. The authors have thus far been unabl e to
obtain or ot herwise examine a copy of thi s diplog.
The cause of the surface structure of Little Creek
may be similar to that of the Magnet Cove structure
in central Arkansas as postulated by Byerly (1991)
in his report on the igneous activity in the Gulf of
Mexico Basin area. He describes this structure and
postulates that "the structure of this ring complex
may be due to several episodes of cauldron subsid-
ence into a relatively steep-sided magma chamber"
(p. 97). He later states: "Numerous magnetic and
gravity anomalies ha ve been reported on the Mon-
roe uplift .... These include Epps dome in Louisiana
and the Midnight Volcano in Mississippi. These most
likely reflect larger igneous compLexes in the area"
(p. 101; emphasis added).
The likelihood is that if Little Creek is the result
of an igneous event, it probably occurred during Late
Cretaceous time, which corresponds with similar
events on the Monroe and Jackson uplifts (Byerly,
1991), because Upper Cretaceous and younger strata
thin significantly over Little Creek (Figures 3, 7).
Thinning is not mapped in older beds below the
Upper/Lower Cretaceous unconformity.
Currently, evidence for pre-Upper Cretaceous
growth of Little Creek is unknown. Collapse into a
magma chamber as described by Byerly (1991) could
explain the coincidence of two otherwise seemi ngly
disparate aspects: (1) A drastic thinning of the Up-
per Cretaceous chalk interval areally restricted to the
general vicinity of the surface expression of Little
Creek, and (2) the overlying collapse feature.
Detailed log correlations reveal missing section in
the Upper Cretaceous attributable to an
unconformity with discernible angularity. The
apparent thickening of Cenozoic strata into the col-
lapse structure causes it to take on the appearance
of a growth feature (depending on di p3), in which
more than 3,500 feet of displacement can be mea-
sured on the base of the Wilcox at the greatest depth
of penetration (Figure 7).
36
BRI Bulletin
N
o miles 50
...... """""1
o kilometers 80 i
Figure 6-Map illustrating regional geologic setting of the Little Creek structure (modifiedfrom Swain and Anderson, /993).
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BRI Bulletin
LITTLE CREEK DIP SECTION
(No Horizontal Scale)
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Figure 7-Stick section along the north-south regional dip direction (no horizontal scale) through LillIe Creek, showing
compact collapse structure in Cenozoic strata above pronounced, yet areally restricted, unconformity in Upper Cretaceous
chalk at depth. Note depth of structural effect_

    ............ ..
38
BRI Bulletin
Unpublished Interpretations
Fisk (1938) proposed no hypothesis to account
for the origin of the structure. In the time since his
investigation, several theories have been advanced
as to the origin of Little Creek, but until now none
has been published. Those known to the authors are
summarized below.
J. E. Rogers (1967; personal communication,
1993) suggested that Little Creek is a salt withdrawal
feature resulting from the development of a
piercement-type salt dome from which the salt with-
drew, causing the structure to collapse upon itself. It
is interesting that the structure does appear to lie
approximately 5 mi (8 km) from a portion of the
suspected southeastern edge of the Winnfield salt
dome basin (see Figure 6). The salt withdrawal
hypothesis may require as yet unknown salt mechan-
ics peculiar to positioning of the original piercement
salt stock near the margin of thick salt to account
for such an episode of piracy.
M. D. Butler (1992, personal communication)
proposed that the structure is an astrobleme that
resulted from a meteor impact that occurred during
the deposition of the Upper Cretaceous chalk inter-
val and underwent subsequent collapse. His
unpublished section (Butler, 1962), which contains
many of the same wells incorporated in Figure 7
herein, identifies the drastic thinning in this interval
as corresponding to loss of section, a fact which we
confirmed during the construction of our cross
sections. In this regard, the feature does classify as a
Class IVb cryptoexplosion structure (McCall, 1979);
i.e., it is representative of a class of structures
"either deeply eroded or buried, or else of
considerable complexity, which do not display an
immediately apparent physiographic form of
meteorite craters" (p. 1), and which are not known
to "display some form of shock metamorphism or
brecciation" (p. 4).
D. H. Wilson (1994, personal communication),
as a student on summer employment with Placid Oil,
researched the structure in the late 1970's and
concluded from seismic and gravity data that the
structure is probably the expression of a deep, post-
Jurassic igneous diapir with no salt involvement.
Implications for Hydrocarbon Exploration
The larger, regional expression of the Little Creek
structure is shown in Figure 3. It is disclosed by a
large area of thinning in the Upper Cretaceous beds
(see also Figure 7). Large quantities of oil and gas
have been produced from this feature in Wilcox and
younger reservoirs. There appears to be no produc-
tion from within the collapse structure itself,
however. The implications are that future explora-
tion might successfully look for residual gravity
maximums along and parallel to wrench faulting,
such as the Boeuf River wrench. Where thinning is
indicated by either log or seismic data over such
anomalies in the Upper Cretaceous, a possible
prospect should be considered, regardless of the size
of the gravity maximum.
Conclusions
Without seismic data yielding a strong
confirmation of an igneous intrusion, the true
nature of the Little Creek structure remains un-
known. While the senior author favors the igneous
intrusion theory, a potential question remains: Is it
possible that the structure offers possibilities for a
hybrid hypothesis combining two or more of these
and other possible influences? W. F. Wilson (1994,
personal communication) has stated that the Little
Creek structure is still actively subsiding and, to the
best of his knowledge, the structure is unique on the
planet.
Acknowledgments
James E. Rogers inspired much initial interest in
the surface and shallow subsurface Little Creek struc-
ture in the early 1980's. He has been a continuing
source of essential information, ideas, and discus-
sion on it since then, and reviewed an early draft of
this paper. Since the early 1990's, Mark D. Butler
has been a source of equally essential information,
ideas, and discussion regarding aspects of the deep
subsurface structure coincident with the shallow
structure; Figure 7 incorporates many of the wells
he used in his early 1960's unpublished dip section.
Paul V. Heinrich posted a generalized write-up by
McCulloh on the enigmatic nature of the structure,
together with a solicitation for nonproprietary data,
to relevant internet news groups, and was helpful in
McCulloh's making contact with W. F. Wilson. Wil-
son and his son D. H. Wilson were very helpful in
BRI Bulletin
39
providing essential background regarding Placids
interest in and history of investigation of the struc-
ture; D. H. Wilson was especially forthcoming with
the conclusions of the detailed investigation of the
structure he had conducted as a student for Placid.
In 1993 Bill Marsalis, incumbent director of the
Louisiana Geological Survey, made available to
McCulloh copies of the logs used in Figure 7 for
correlation. The same year, the late Steve Breakfield
encouraged McCulloh's interest in the structure, and
provided data he had accumulated pertaining to it.
References Cited
Butler, M. D., 1962, Unpublished data [dip section
through Little Creek]: Jackson, Mi ss., scales I in. =
1 mi (horizontal) and 1 in. = 1,000 ft (vertical).
Butler, M. D., 1992, Personal communication: consult-
ing exploration geophysicist, Jackson, Miss.
Byerly, G. R. , 1991, Igneous activity, in A. Salvador,
ed. , The Gulf of Mexico Basin: Geological Society
of America, The Geology of North America, v. J, p.
91-108.
Echols, J. B., 1997, The Wilcox oil province (The
Wilcox platform): vertical fracturing caused by
basement trends and geopressured source beds:
Basin Research Institute Bulletin, Louisiana State
University, v. 7, p. 40-49.
Fisk, H. N., 1938, Geology of Grant and LaSalle
parishes, Geological Bulletin No. 10: Louisiana
Geological Survey, 246 p. plus plates.
Huner, J. Jr., 1939, Geology of Caldwell and Winn
parishes, Geological Bulletin No. 15: Loui siana
Geological Survey, 356 p. plus plates.
McCall , G. J. H., 1979, Introduction, p. 1-23, in G. J.
H. McCall, ed., Astroblemes-cryptoexplosion
structures: Benchmark Papers in Geology: Dowden,
Hutchinson & Ross, Inc., Stroudsburg, Pa., v. 50,
437 p.
Rogers, J. E., 1967, Unpublished data [shallow subsur-
face structure and isopach maps of Little Creek and
surrounding area from water-well data]: U.S.
Geological Survey, Alexandria, La.
Rogers , J. E., 1982, Personal communication, hydrolo-
gist: U.S. Geological Survey, Alexandria, La.
Rogers, J. E., 1993, Personal communication: consult-
ing ground-water hydrologist, Alexandria, La.
Rogers, J. E., 1998, Personal communication: consult-
ing ground-water hydrologist, Alexandria, La.
Snead, J. 1. , and R. P. McCulloh (compilers), 1984,
Geologic map of Louisiana: Louisiana Geological
Survey, scale 1 :500,000.
Swain, F. M., and E. G. Anderson, 1993, Stratigraphy
and Ostracoda of the Cotton Valley Group Northern
Coastal Region, Geological Bulletin No. 45:
Louisiana Geological Survey, 150 p.
Wilson, D. H., 1994, Personal communication, petro-
leum geologist, Vastar Resources, Houston, Texas.
Wilson, W. E, 1994, Personal communication, geolo-
gist, Strata Environmental, Spring, Texas.
R
P3
9 BASIN
B RI RESEARCH
INSTl nJTE
\ . ,
Basin Research Institute
\,,- LSU/
'" '
/
~ .. ~ / /   Bulletin
Volume 8
BRI Bulletin Staff
Editorial
Science Director/Chacko John
Bulletin Editor/Margo Olinde
Telephone: (225) 388-8328
Fax: (225) 388-3662
Web site: http://www.bri.lsu.edu
Contributing Writers
John B. Echols
Brian J. Harder
Chacko J. John
Gina Maciaz
Richard P. McCulloh
Ron Zimmerman
Production
Cartographic Manager/John Snead
Graphic Designer/Lisa Pond
Technical Support/Reed Bourgeois
Word Processing/Cherri Webre
Distribution
Cherri Webre
Telephone: (225) 388-8328
Fax: (225) 388-3662
Web site: http://www.bri.lsu.edu
The BRI Bulletin is distributed to profession-
als and companies associated with the
petroleum industry. Back issues may be
ordered by contacting the BRl business office.
No charge for single copies; multiple copies
are $10 each.
November 1998
Contents
A Potential Multiple-use, Environmentally
Safe Energy Resource for the Twenty-first
Century: the Geopressured-geothermal Reservoirs
of the Gulf of Mexico Basin
Chacko J john, Gina Maciaz, and
Brian j. Harder .................................................... .
Estimating Louisiana's Probable Initial In-place
Oil Reserves
Ron Zimmerman .... ...... .. ........ .. ............................ 7
Little Creek Suucture,T9N-R2E,
La Salle Parish, Louisiana
john B. Echols and Richard P McCulloh ................ 30
BRI grants permission for fair, not- for-profit use of BRI Bulletin
contents. The BRI Bulletin is publi shed yearl y by the Basin Research
Institute, whose offices are located at Louisiana State University, Room
208, Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-410 I.
The Basin Research Institute is the oil and gas divi sion of the Louisiana
Geological Survey, which operates as part of Energy Programs under the
Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies of
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge campus.
Geological data and interpretations shown in this bulletin have been
carefully compiled and interpreted by the Basin Research Institute of
Loui siana State University. The interpretations represent our best judge-
ment, however, we cannot and do not guarantee the accuracy or cor-
rectness of any geological or other information.