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Structure and geomorphology of the Duchesne graben, Uinta basin, Utah, and its enhancement of a hydrocarbon reservoir

Alicia Groeger and Ronald Bruhn

AUTHORS Alicia Groeger Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112; agroeger@terra.com Alicia Groeger has a B.S. degree in geology (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 1995) and spent one year of undergraduate study at the Geosciences Institute of Go ttingen University in Germany. She then received her M.S. degree in geology (University of Utah, 1997) with a concentration in structure and tectonics. Since then Alicia has been living in Peru, working in exploration geology and in sustainable development, cultivating responsible relationships between large mining companies, local peasant communities, and the Peruvian national park system. Ronald Bruhn Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112; rlbruhn@mines.utah.edu Since receiving his Ph.D. in geology (Columbia University, 1976), Ron Bruhn has worked as a professor of structure and tectonics at the University of Utah, where he has received numerous teaching and research awards. Bruhns research interests include the application of structural geology to problems in petroleum geology, seismic hazards, and mining. He is an internationally recognized expert on the origin, hydrologic properties, and modeling of fracture systems in fault zones. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This work was supported by a Department of Energy grant awarded to R. L. Bruhn at the University of Utah as a subcontract from Terra Tek Inc. We thank S. R. Bereskin for initiating the project and providing both technical expertise and encouragement. Richard Jarrard provided invaluable advice on the interpretation of well logs. We also thank Robert Balou, John Bartley, and Dave Chapman for their thoughtful comments and suggestions.

ABSTRACT The Duchesne fault zone (DFZ) in the Uinta basin of northeastern Utah is a system of normal faults and joint zones that forms prominent, east-trending lineaments tens of kilometers long. The Duchesne graben, an asymmetrical fault-bounded trough in the western part of the DFZ, is the focus of this article. A master fault bounds the southern margin of the structural half graben, dips steeply northward, and accommodates about 200 m of slip. This fault either terminates downward by 1400 m depth or attens into a north-dipping, low-angle detachment fault at about 1000 m depth. The half graben is developed along the crest of an open, lowamplitude exure in the southern limb of the Uinta basin syncline. This faulted exure trapped hydrocarbons that migrated southward from depth in the Uinta basin. Intense fracturing within the half graben also created migration pathways for hydrocarbons and generated shallow reservoirs in the Green River Formation.

INTRODUCTION The Uinta basin is located between the southern anks of the Uinta Mountains and the northern edge of the Colorado Plateau province in the central Rocky Mountains of the United States (Figure 1). This basin is an important onshore petroleum province that is known for the prolic lacustrine source rocks in the Eocene Green River Formation (Figure 2). Widely distributed oil and gas elds and tar sand deposits formed as hydrocarbons generated in the deeper parts of the basin migrated updip into stratigraphic and structural traps in the limbs of the Uinta basin syncline (Fouch et al., 1992). Swarms of gilsonite dikes were also injected by hydraulic fracturing in the southeastern part of the basin.
Copyright 2001. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved. Manuscript received April 8, 1999; revised manuscript received September 26, 2000; nal acceptance November 9, 2000.

AAPG Bulletin, v. 85, no. 9 (September 2001), pp. 16611678

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Figure 1. (a) Physiographic provinces located in the Colorado Plateau and Rocky Mountain region. (b) Outline of the Uinta basin showing the surrounding uplifts, the Duchesne fault zone (DFZ), and gilsonite dikes (G). The Duchesne graben is bounded by a rectangle.

The Duchesne fault zone (DFZ) is a series of normal faults and joint zones (Figure 1) that extends for more than 60 km across the southern ank of the Uinta basin (Ray et al., 1956). Although the DFZ has been recognized for many years, little published information exists concerning the age and structure of the fault zone or its hydrological properties. This lack of information is surprising because several oil elds are lo-

cated in the fault zone (Clem, 1985), which is ideally located to trap hydrocarbons migrating up the southern limb of the Uinta basin syncline. The structure and geomorphology of the Duchesne graben are the focus of this article, which seeks to explain the features effect on production from the local hydrocarbon reservoir. The Duchesne graben is located in the western part of the DFZ, where oil has been produced since 1951. This area is characterized by excellent bedrock exposures and pronounced geomorphic expressions of faults and joint zones (Figure 3). Well data also exist to constrain the subsurface structure. Our goal was to determine the structure of the graben, to infer possible effects of faulting on hydrocarbon migration and trapping, and to evaluate evidence for active faulting.

STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY OF THE DUCHESNE GRABEN Surface Geology The Duchesne graben is a faulted trough approximately 16 km long and up to 500 m wide (Figure 4). Topographic relief in the eastern part of the graben is 1530 m (Figure 5), but farther west the graben is

Figure 2. Depositional history and stratigraphic nomenclature for the Uinta basin (modied after Bruhn et al., 1986). Crosshatched regions represent periods of erosion or nondeposition. 1662 Duchesne Graben, Uinta Basin (Utah)

Groeger and Bruhn Figure 3. Aerial photograph of the Duchesne graben. The prominent lineament bounds the south side of the graben as indicated by arrows. Drill pads of the Duchesne oil and gas eld are located at the eastern end of the graben. The town of Duchesne is visible at the top center of the photograph. 1663

Figure 4. (a) Structural map of the Duchesne graben in Sec. 13-24, T4S, R5W and Sec. 14-23, T4S, R4W; cross section along line AA is shown in Figure 6. Continued.

dissected by erosion in Indian Creek Canyon, where the topographic relief is up to 100 m. The longest faults and most persistent photolineaments are located along 1664 Duchesne Graben, Uinta Basin (Utah)

the southern boundary of the graben, where faulting is more continuous than along the northern ank (Figure 4). This asymmetry is illustrated in the cross section

Figure 4. Continued. (b) Map of lineaments and major stream channels in and near the Duchesne graben. Lineaments are dashed where covered. Numbers 14 indicate the locations of topographic proles in Figure 5. Letters indicate the stream channels proled in Figure 12. along Indian Canyon, where the well-developed northdipping master fault crops out on the southern side of the graben (Figure 6a). Faults in the Duchesne graben cut shale, sandstone, and lacustrine limestone of the Eocene Uinta Formation in the southern limb of the Uinta basin Groeger and Bruhn 1665

ranges from several centimeters to several meters on faults in this array. Strata in the fault-bounded blocks are intensely jointed. The prominent joint set strikes east-west, parallel with the normal faults, but subsidiary sets strike northeast-northwest, and most joints in these sets terminate against longer east-weststriking joints (Figure 8). Spacing between joints is less than 1 cm in some micritic limestone beds, is wider in thicker bedded or coarser grained limestone, and is up to 20 cm in uvial sandstone beds that are several meters thick. Calcite veins heal some of the east-west joints, and blebs of solidied hydrocarbon or gilsonite occur within the veins at one outcrop near the northern boundary of the graben. Sandstone beds also contain conjugate deformation bands that are incipient normal faults in which shearing has collapsed the pore space and caused cataclasis of rock grains. Subsurface Geology Logging data were compiled and analyzed from 31 wells in the Duchesne oil eld. Gamma-ray and electrical logs were used to correlate selected horizons in the subsurface. Well drilling history and production reports were used in conjunction with the petrophysical logs to identify major mechanical boundaries in the stratigraphy and to identify anomalous intervals where wells may have penetrated faults. Twenty-seven wells are located north of the graben, one well is located within the graben, and three wells are located south of the graben (Figure 9). Nine marker beds were selected for subsurface correlation based on their gamma-ray patterns (Figure 10). These markers include shale, sandstone, and limestone beds that are easily identied in gamma-ray logs and are regionally distributed throughout the subsurface. Each marker was identied using the original gamma-ray logs because depths to formation or marker bed tops listed in well completion reports were found to be incorrect in several cases. The marker beds span a depth range of approximately 2 km and can be identied in the Uinta, Green River, and Wasatch formations (Figure 10). The location and depth of marker bed intercepts were tabulated to produce a set of digital data for graphical and numerical analysis. A plane was then t to the well intercepts of each marker bed in the 16 northernmost wells using linear, least squares regression (Davis, 1986). These wells were selected because they are all located between 0.5 and 3 km north of the

Figure 5. Topographic proles 14 across the Duchesne graben. The proles are located on Figure 4b. The vertical exaggeration is 6. NL marks prominent lineaments in the northern part of the graben; SL and SL mark prominent lineaments in the southern part; E marks ephemeral stream channels.

syncline (Figures 2, 4a). Individual beds range from 10 cm to 15 m thick. The thickest beds are sandstone, but white limestone beds provide the best marker horizons for correlating strata across faults. Bedding dips 4 11NNE in this limb of the syncline except in the vicinity of the Duchesne graben, where the beds are exed into a low-amplitude anticline that is breached by normal faults (Figure 6b). Bedding dip increases from 46NNE to 811NNE in a belt approximately 2.5 km wide immediately north of the graben. Strata within the graben are faulted into narrow blocks and slivers with bedding tilted at various angles, up to a maximum of 30S. Bedding dips 1116SSW in a belt approximately 300 m wide immediately south of the graben but resumes the regional dip of 411NNE farther south. Normal faults bound small horst blocks along the anks and within the central topographic trough (Figure 4a). Faults are well displayed in the rst drainage east of Cottonwood Canyon, where normal faults disrupt strata in a belt approximately 100 m wide in the southern wall of the graben (Figure 7). Displacement 1666 Duchesne Graben, Uinta Basin (Utah)

Figure 6. (a) Structural cross section AA along the eastern side of Indian Canyon (see Figure 4 for location). The light gray layer is a prominent limestone marker bed that can be traced along most of the cross section. Dark gray layers represent a distinct group of beds that can be correlated across the graben. Minor faults are dashed where projected at depth. (b) Restored structural cross section AA across the Duchesne graben. Only faulting was reversed to create this restoration, so the remaining discrepancy across the master fault is attributed to reverse drag and bedding rotation. Notice the low-amplitude anticline that remains after restoration of faulting.

Duchesne graben in an area where there was no evidence of faulting on aerial photos and published maps (Ray et al., 1956) (Figure 9). The marker beds dipped 9 in a direction N12E, similar to the bedding orientation at the surface. The standard deviation between the best-t planes and the well intercepts averaged 4.5 m for all nine marker beds. Assuming that the residual error between actual and predicted well intercept depth was normally distributed, 95% of the well intercepts were located within 9 m (2 standard deviations) of the best-t plane. This residual error included

natural variations in bedding thickness, bedding dip, and measurement error. The error analysis implied that a vertical tectonic offset of 9 m or less was probably not discernible by correlating marker beds between wells. A structural cross section of the Duchesne graben was created by projecting the intercepts of marker beds in each well onto a vertical plane that strikes N12E, parallel with the regional direction of bedding dip (Figure 10). Several structural features are noteworthy. (1) Bedding dips more steeply north (9) than regional Groeger and Bruhn 1667

1668 Duchesne Graben, Uinta Basin (Utah) Figure 7. View of the escarpment on the southern side of the Duchesne graben (see encircled person for scale). The photograph is taken looking eastward from a stream cut located several hundred meters east of Cottonwood Creek. North is on the left side of the photograph and south is on the right side. White layers are limestone beds that are intercalated with cross-bedded sandstone of the Uinta Formation. The escarpment marks the southern edge of the topographic trough formed by the Duchesne graben. The escarpment is underlain by intensely faulted and jointed rock. Notice several subsidiary normal faults located south of the escarpment. These faults offset and rotate bedding toward the south, opposite the regional northward direction of dip.

Figure 8. Line drawing of joint traces on horizontal bedding surface in the Duchesne graben. The bed is ne-grained, lacustrine limestone of the Uinta Formation cropping out in a horst block within the graben. Notice the northnorthwesttrending and northeast-trending joints that truncate mostly against the more prominent east-west trending set, suggesting that the latter set of joints is the oldest. Similar jointing may create fractured reservoirs in tight sands and shales of the subjacent Green River Formation.

Figure 9. Location map showing the oil and gas wells used for correlation of marker beds in the subsurface of the Duchesne graben.

bedding (46) in a belt approximately 2.5 km wide immediately north of the graben. This belt of increased northward dip is observed in all of the marker beds,

from the shallowest marker B to the deepest Castle Peak marker horizon (Figure 10). (2) Approximately 200 m of strata are omitted by faulting of marker B Groeger and Bruhn 1669

in Indian Canyon (Figure 6a), although the net slip on the master fault at Indian Canyon is signicantly less than 200 m. Rotation of bedding due to reverse drag is commonly associated with normal fault deformation. Barnett et al. (1987), however, documented that beds cut by faults with less than 1 km of displacement are rotated less than 5, so that kind of responsive exure cannot sufciently account for the about 20 rotation of the Duchesne graben bedding.

GEOMORPHOLOGY The geomorphology was evaluated for evidence of active faulting and to investigate the origins of the pronounced photolineaments observed on aerial photographs (Ray et al., 1956) (Figure 3) and satellite imagery. The geomorphology was studied by eldchecking photolineaments, analyzing stream drainage patterns, constructing stream channel proles, and calculating stream gradients. Stream proles and gradients were determined from 1:24,000 scale topographic maps with 12 m contours. Streams head in the highlands on the southern limb of the Uinta basin syncline and ow northeastward across the graben to the Duchesne River in the center of the basin (Figure 4b). The streams are all ephemeral, with the exception of Indian Creek, which is a perennial stream. Stream channels are marked by a crudely rectangular pattern with longer north-northeasttrending reaches linked by shorter east-trending jogs. This pattern is caused by a combination of different factors: streamow down the regional structural gradient dened by bedding surfaces; preferential erosion along east-striking joints; and possibly, eastward tilting related to uplift in the Colorado Plateau and Wasatch Mountains. The eastern part of the Duchesne graben is a narrow topographic trough that is bounded by fault-line scarps and eroded joint zones (Figure 5). Movement of sediment within the graben is largely conned to the vicinity of ephemeral stream crossings. Colluvium and talus have accumulated along the anks of the graben between the stream channels, and wind-borne and abandoned uvial deposits form mounds in the center of the trough. Farther west in Indian Canyon, the graben is strongly dissected because of downcutting by perennial streamow and erosion in ephemeral tributaries that extend both eastward and westward along the graben. The tributary canyons are each approximately 4 km long (Figure 4b). The southern walls of

Figure 10. Cross section showing elevation of marker beds encountered in the oil and gas wells (Figure 9). The marker bed intercepts in each well are projected onto a vertical plane that strikes perpendicular to the trend of the Duchesne graben (plane strikes N2W). Notice that marker B is faulted down approximately 200 m in the graben relative to its elevation on either side and that markers D and F are omitted by this fault. Also notice that marker H and deeper markers do not appear to be faulted. See text for discussion. within the graben (Figure 11), but deeper markers do not appear faulted, and if they are, the vertical offset is presumably less than 9 m. This implies that the north-dipping master fault intercepts the well in the graben between markers B and F (Figures 10, 11). Displacement on the master fault may either die out below marker F or be transferred onto a low-angle fault near the top of the Green River Formation. (3) Marker bed intercepts in the wells south of the graben are consistently lower than the expected elevations determined by projecting bedding updip from the reference area several kilometers north of the graben (Figure 10). This discrepancy is best explained if beds are folded into a broad, open anticline whose crest is breached by faulting in the Duchesne graben. This structural model (Figure 10) is similar to the cross section farther west 1670 Duchesne Graben, Uinta Basin (Utah)

Figure 11. Gamma-ray logs of two wells: the Petroglyph Operating Co. 7-16D Ute Tribal well located just north of the graben, and the Coors Energy Co. 10-16D Ute Tribal well located inside the graben. Marker beds are denoted by both lowercase and uppercase letters, and the latter are shown on the cross section in Figure 10. The inferred position of the northdipping master normal fault is 410450 m below the drill pad of the 10-16D Ute Tribal well. Projection of the fault intersection from the wellbore to the point where it crops out along the southern wall of the graben indicates a dip angle of about 75, consistent with surface measurements.

these canyons lie close to the southern structural boundary of the graben, but erosion by mass wasting and uvial processes has extended north of the graben into unfaulted bed rock. Stream gradients generally decrease at a streams point of entry into the graben but remain nearly constant where streams exit across the northern boundary of the graben (Figure 12). Cottonwood Creek is an exception to this rule. Cottonwood Creek ows into the graben at a left-stepping fault jog in the southern ank and exits the north ank where groundwater has pooled and saturated the soil. The stream gradient increases just north of this latter location. The jog along the southern side of the graben coincides with the projected locations of several normal faults mapped in

nearby outcrops (Figure 4). Several knickpoints are developed along a 500 mlong stretch of the channel extending upstream across the southern ank of the graben. A deep gully extends upstream from the middle of the graben to the last of these knickpoints, where water seeps from a spring. These geomorphic features could be indicative of active faulting, but there are no scarps in Quaternary deposits. The origins of the photolineaments mapped by Ray et al. (1956) were determined during eld mapping and analysis of drainage patterns. Many lineaments are dened by fault-line scarps or by depressions eroded along closely spaced faults and joints. Other lineaments are cliff faces formed by mass wasting along east-westtrending joint surfaces. The longest Groeger and Bruhn 1671

Figure 12. Topographic proles (scale on left side) and channel gradients (scale on right side) of several streams that cross the Duchesne graben. Stream proles ah are located on Figure 4b. Vertical exaggeration is 3. NL and NL are intersection points of lineaments that occur in the northern part of the graben. SL and SL are intersection points of lineaments that occur in the southern part of the graben. The v marks the conuence of ephemeral stream channels.

lineaments are located along the southern ank of the graben where the master fault zone crops out (Figure 4a). Lineaments along the northern ank of the graben are shorter and more dispersed, reecting subsidiary antithetic faults and joints related to hanging-wall exure above the north-dipping master fault (Figure 4a). Lineaments in the central trough are also formed by erosion of faults and joints, but these lineaments are less conspicuous than those located along the graben anks because the bed rock is partly buried by alluvial and windblown deposits.

DISCUSSION Structure of the Duchesne Graben Viable hypotheses for the origin of the Duchesne graben must incorporate several key structural features: 1672 Duchesne Graben, Uinta Basin (Utah)

The zone of master normal faulting is located along the southern boundary of the graben and dips 75N (Figure 4a). South-dipping faults located along the northern boundary are antithetic to this master fault. Normal faulting breached a low-amplitude exure (Figure 6). Near the center of the graben, the amplitude of the exure is about 100 m and the wavelength is about 1.5 km. Correlation of marker beds between oil wells indicates that this low-amplitude fold persists downward into the Wasatch Formation at a depth of 2 km (Figure 10). The east-central part of the graben shows 200 m of displacement on the north-dipping master fault. This displacement either dies out at depth or is transferred into nearly horizontal displacement where the master fault attens into a gently dipping detachment fault that is subparallel with bedding (Figure 10).

Figure 12. Continued.

Displacement on the master fault dies out laterally away from the center of the Duchesne graben (Figure 4). We propose two different structural models for the Duchesne graben: a detachment fault model and a planar master fault model. A detachment fault was modeled using the geometrical construction proposed by Groshong (1989). Groshongs model assumes that a steep-dipping, planar master fault either intersects or bends abruptly into a horizontal to low-angle detachment fault at depth. The depth of the detachment is a function of the dip angle of the master fault, the width of the belt of exure in the hanging wall, and the dip angle of bedding in the hanging-wall exure. In the Duchesne graben, the master fault dips 75N, the hanging-wall deformation zone is 500 m wide, and

hanging-wall strata dip approximately 30S in the central part of the Duchesne graben. Based on these input parameters to Groshongs (1989) model, the depth to the detachment is 930 m (Figure 13). Displacement on the detachment is xed by equating the area of the hanging-wall basin with that of a rectangle dened by the depth to, and the displacement along, the detachment fault. The area of the triangular basin is 5 104 m2, corresponding to a slip of approximately 55 m on the detachment fault. Antithetic faults are not explicitly included in Groshongs (1989) model, but the south-dipping antithetic normal faults in the Duchesne graben presumably accommodate rotation and extension within the hanging wall of the master fault. The estimated depth of the detachment fault is near the transition from a thick-bedded sandstone and limestone section in the Uinta and upper Groeger and Bruhn 1673

Figure 13. Two structural models for the Duchesne graben. (a) North-dipping master fault that attens into a low-angle detachment fault. (b) The planar fault model in which displacement dies out downward along the north-dipping master fault. In both models, faulting breaches an open, low-amplitude anticline. Dashed lines indicate zones of intense jointing and antithetic faulting.

Figure 14. Drilling anomalies associated with borehole enlargement (open circles) and high drilling torque (solid circles) for wells in the Duchesne oil eld (Figure 9). The locations are projected from each wellbore onto a vertical plane that strikes perpendicular to the graben (plane strikes N2W). The drilling anomalies are dened as borehole diameter and torque that are at least three times greater than the average value in a 100 m vertical section of the wellbore. Notice that there are many anomalies in the lower Uinta and uppermost Green River formations, suggesting that these rocks are more brittle and stronger than those in the subjacent part of the Green River Formation. The downward transition from more brittle to less brittle rock may limit the depth of normal faulting (Figure 13b) or localize the position of the inferred detachment fault (Figure 13a).

Green River formations to an underlying section of thin-bedded shale and limestone (Figure 14). This lithologic transition is an important mechanical boundary based on borehole caliper and drilling torque measurements (Figure 14). Rocks in the base of the Uinta Formation and uppermost Green River Formation are apparently stronger (higher torque during drilling), more brittle, and perhaps more fractured (greater borehole diameter) than the underlying shale and limestone. This mechanical boundary is a likely position to transfer normal fault displacement onto a detachment fault in underlying shale beds. The detachment need not continue for any great distance downdip to the north, however. The estimated 55 m of displacement on the detachment fault may die out northward within the shale beds if shearing becomes distributed by ow within the shales. 1674 Duchesne Graben, Uinta Basin (Utah)

The alternative, planar fault model requires that displacement on the master fault decrease with depth. We used a fault displacement gradient magnitude proposed by Nicol et al. (1995) to estimate the maximum depth of normal faulting for this structural model. Fault displacement dies out at a depth of about 1365 m, given 200 m of net slip at 400 m depth in the graben well and a fault-displacement gradient of 0.2 below that depth on the 75-dipping master fault. Southdipping, antithetic normal faults are secondary structural factors in this model as in the listric master fault model. The mechanical transition in the upper part of the Green River Formation (Figure 14) is also important in this model. Normal fault displacement may be absorbed below this depth by ow and distributed faulting in the Green River shale and limestone unit.

Origin of the Duchesne Graben The origin of the Duchesne graben must be considered in the context of both regional and local structure. The DFZ is a series of en echelon grabens and fractures extending more than 60 km across the southern limb of the Uinta basin syncline (Ray et al., 1956). The length of the fault zone suggests that a deep-seated fault or fracture zone may be developed in the underlying basement, but there is no evidence for a basement-involved structure in regional magnetic or gravity patterns, at least to our knowledge. The relatively small fault displacements of tens to hundreds of meters suggest that the DFZ is not associated with basement-involved faulting of signicant magnitude. The Duchesne graben breaches an open, lowamplitude exure or anticline that continues below the depth of discernible normal faulting (Figure 13). The origin of this exure is difcult to ascertain using the available data. Beds are locally exed by reverse drag adjacent to normal faults at some localities (Figure 6) and tilted by block rotation between faults. This latter phenomenon is well displayed along the southern ank of the graben (Figure 7). This smaller scale exing and rotation, however, does not sufciently account for the larger scale folding in the broad anticline that persists below the depth of discernible faulting (Figures 10, 13). This anticline may have originated in the southern limb of the Uinta basin syncline during compressional deformation in the Laramide orogeny. If folding and faulting were coeval, then the graben presumably initiated where beds were extended above the neutral surface of the low-amplitude fold (Figure 13). The ages of folding and normal faulting are difcult to determine, however, because late Tertiary strata have been stripped by erosion from the region surrounding the Duchesne graben (Fouch et al., 1992). Regional geological relationships can be used, however, to develop a plausible, if speculative, history for the Duchesne graben. Normal faulting at the eastern end of the DFZ is thought to predate both the injection of northwest-trending gilsonite dikes and the formation of northwest-trending joints (S. R. Bereskin and R. L. Bruhn, 1996, unpublished data). This temporal relationship is consistent with the fact that northwest-trending joints in the Duchesne graben are also younger than the east-westtrending normal faults and joints, although there are no gilsonite dikes (e.g., Figure 8). If one assumes that the gilsonite dikes and northwest-trending joints formed during the peak period of source rock maturation in the Uinta basin, then the

DFZ may be older than 3035 Ma (Fouch et al., 1992). This early Oligocene age coincides with the culmination of the Laramide orogeny in the Uinta Mountains and the maximum burial of hydrocarbon source rocks in the Uinta basin. We have reason to suspect that normal faulting and jointing continued episodically during the Neogene, even if the faulting began earlier. The Neogene was marked by uplift and fracturing in the Colorado Plateau just south of the DFZ (Chidsey and Laine, 1992). Normal faulting also occurred in the eastern Uinta Mountains (Hansen, 1984) and locally along the northwestern edge of the Uinta basin (Hecker, 1993). An estimated 12 km of overburden were stripped from the DFZ during regional uplift and erosion in the southern part of the Uinta basin while maturation of hydrocarbon source rocks continued to generate high uid pressure in the Green River Formation (Fouch et al., 1992). Reduction in conning pressure concomitant with generation of high uid pressure presumably reduced the mechanical stability of faults and enhanced jointing. Notably, the Duchesne graben is presently located at the southwestern edge of a broad zone of high uid pressure in the Green River Formation (Fouch et al., 1992; McPherson, 1997). The narrow but distinct topographic troughs and prominent photolineaments within the DFZ have been interpreted as evidence for Quaternary faulting (Hecker, 1993). No compelling geological evidence exists for Quaternary faulting in the Duchesne graben, however. The graben is highly dissected in Indian Canyon, where the topographic trough is deepened by stream action and widened by erosion of the northern wall (Figure 3). No fault scarps exist in alluvial deposits, stream knickpoints are located several hundred meters upstream from the master fault in the southern wall of the graben, and there is little change in channel gradient where streams exit through the northern wall of the graben (Figure 12). The small spring, watersaturated soil, and changes of channel gradient in Little Cottonwood Creek (Figures 4, 5) could be caused by active faulting, but ponding of northward-owing groundwater against impermeable faults is a plausible alternative. Spatial and Dimensional Analysis of Structural Lineaments Fracture density and length are important parameters controlling uid migration pathways and reservoir permeability. The orientations, lengths, and midpoint coordinates of photolineaments were compiled from Groeger and Bruhn 1675

1:40,000 scale aerial photographs of the Duchesne graben. The origins of most photolineaments were determined during geologic mapping, and we were able to correlate lineaments across roads, streams, and areas covered by Quaternary deposits. Lineaments were classied as either eroded features along faults or as eroded features along joint zones. Lineaments were then separated by location into two structural domains: one in the northern half of the graben, where beds are exed from north-dipping to south-dipping in the structural hinge zone, and the other in the southern half of the graben, where the master fault zone crops out (e.g., Figures 4, 15). The cumulative number of lineaments N(L) greater than or equal to a specic length L was plotted on a graph with log-log scale for analysis of dimensional scaling (Figure 15). Several important features are evident: Lineaments developed along faults range in length from about 100 m to 16 km. The 16 kmlong lineament is developed in the master fault zone along the southern boundary of the graben; the longest fault-related lineament along the northern boundary is only 2 km long.

Lineaments formed by erosion along joint zones range in length from less than 100 m to more than 1 km. Many more short lineaments exist than long ones, a typical property of natural fracturing (Cladouhos and Marrett, 1996). Length-scaling of fault-related lineaments is similar in the northern and southern parts of the graben, but the ratio of short to long joint zones is greatest in the northern part (Figure 15). This difference presumably reects the asymmetry of deformation. Long joint zones are proportionally more frequent in the southern ank of the graben where extension is focused around the master normal fault zone. Shorter joint zones are proportionally more frequent along the northern ank of the graben. There is less extension in the north ank, which is a hinge zone where bedding is tilted southward in the hanging wall of the master fault zone (Figure 13). Petroleum Geology One million of the 400 million equivalent bbl of oil produced in the Uinta basin since 1951 were produced from wells in the Duchesne oil eld (Figure 16). The percentages of total production from each of three major producing intervals are as follows: upper Green River Formation, 13%, dominantly oil; lower Green River Formation, 29%, dominantly oil and gas; and Wasatch Formation, 54%, dominantly oil (data compiled from the Utah State Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining public records ofce). Several wells produce from multiple zones simultaneously and account for the remaining part of production. Producing intervals in the Wasatch and lowermost Green River formations are overpressured. Drill-stem tests in the Wasatch Formation indicated pressure gradients exceeding 12 kPa/m and locally approaching 18 kPa/m, signicantly greater than a hydrostatic gradient of 9.8 kPa/m (Spencer, 1987; Chidsey and Laine, 1992). Overpressure presumably originates as solid kerogen is converted to uid hydrocarbons during oil generation near the center of the Uinta basin and perhaps by dehydration of clays during burial and compaction (Narr and Currie, 1982; Spencer, 1987). Narr and Currie (1982) and Spencer (1987) speculated that high uid pressure in the Duchesne oil eld was caused when oil migrated updip to ow beneath and become trapped within fractured, low-permeability shale in the lower Green River Formation.

Figure 15. The number of lineaments N(L) of length equal to or greater than a specied length L plotted at logarithmic scale. The lineaments are divided into two different types, those formed by joint zones and those associated with faults. Jointrelated and fault-related lineaments in the northern half of the graben are indicated by open and solid triangles, respectively. Open and solid circles indicate joint-related and fault-related lineaments, respectively, in the southern half of the graben. 1676 Duchesne Graben, Uinta Basin (Utah)

Figure 16. Cumulative oil production from wells in the Duchesne oil eld. Well locations and production intervals are projected onto a vertical plane striking N2W, perpendicular to the trend of the Duchesne graben. Detachment and planar fault models (Figure 13) are superimposed on the cross section to compare production with inferred fault structure. Production data were collected from the public records of the Utah State Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining.

The low-amplitude anticline in the Duchesne oil eld presumably formed a trap that localized accumulations of oil. Notably, most production in the Duchesne oil eld was from wells drilled into the broad northern limb of this fold just north of the Duchesne graben. The greatest production has been from fractured intervals in the Green River Formation near the depth of the possible detachment fault (Figure 16). Fracturing by normal faulting and jointing enhanced production, providing both hydrocarbon migration conduits and fractured reservoirs that extend to the upper part of the Green River Formation. The impor-

tance of fracturing was exemplied in one well located immediately north of the graben (API well number 43013-20045). One-third of the total oil produced in the Duchesne oil eld comes from fractured Green River Formation shales and limestones encountered in this well (data compiled from the Utah State Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining). Oil may also be trapped directly beneath the graben in the crest of the low-amplitude fold and just south of the fold axis in the south-dipping beds. These traps may be formed either by anticlinal closure (Figure 13) or by a combination of fold closure and Groeger and Bruhn 1677

small-displacement faulting, that is, displacements of less than 9 m. This hypothesis has not been tested adequately because the only well drilled in the graben was dry, and only three wells have been drilled in the south limb, one dry hole and two moderate producers. Charging of the traps just south of the graben requires that oil migrate either through or below the Duchesne graben fault zone (Figure 16) before rising upward into the footwall of the master fault. This migration path may be blocked by impermeable faults, making these traps particularly risky drilling targets. Structural mapping, together with the analysis of lineament length-scaling (Figure 15), may be used to infer plausible dimensions of fracture-controlled reservoirs in the Duchesne graben. Numerous horst blocks within the graben may provide fractured reservoirs with shale top seals and lateral fault seals. Fracturing within low-permeability beds (Figure 8) may also generate fractured reservoirs sealed by lowpermeability country rock. We assume that the maximum linear dimension of a fractured reservoir is roughly equal to the longest lineament formed by linked faults and/or joints. The width is estimated by spacing between lineaments and mapped fault and joint zones (Figure 4). Most fractured reservoirs in the hanging wall of the master fault are presumably less than 2 km long and probably only tens of meters wide. Reservoirs surrounding the steeply dipping master fault could be longer than those in the hanging-wall hinge zone (Figure 13).

cline that is breached by faulting in its upper part (Figure 13). Intense faulting and jointing produce conduits for hydrocarbons migrating from depth and form fractured reservoirs in the Green River Formation.

REFERENCES CITED
Barnett, J. A., J. Mortimer, J. H. Rippon, J. J. Walsh, and J. Watterson, 1987, Displacement geometry in the volume containing a single normal fault: AAPG Bulletin, v. 71, p. 925937. Bruhn, R. L., M. D. Picard, and J. S. Isby, 1986, Tectonics and sedimentology of the Uinta arch, western Uinta Mountains, and Uinta basin, in J. A. Petersen, ed., Paleotectonics and sedimentation in Rocky Mountain region, United States: AAPG Memoir 32, p. 333352. Chidsey, T. C., and M. D. Laine, 1992, The fractured Green River and Wasatch formations of the Uinta basin, Utah: targets for horizontal drilling, in T. D. Fouch, V. F. Nuccio, and T. C. Chidsey, eds., Hydrocarbon and mineral resources of the Uinta basin, Utah and Colorado: Utah Geological Association Guidebook 20, p. 123134. Cladouhos, T. T., and R. Marrett, 1996, Are fault growth and linkage models consistent with power-law distributions of fault lengths?: Journal of Structural Geology, v. 18, p. 281293. Clem, K., 1985, Oil and gas production summary of the Uinta basin, in M. D. Picard, ed., Geology and energy resources, Uinta basin of Utah: Utah Geological Association Guidebook 12, p. 159 167. Davis, J. C., 1986, Statistics and data analysis in geology, 2d ed.: New York, John Wiley and Sons, 656 p. Fouch, T. D., V. F. Nuccio, J. C. Osmond, L. MacMillan, W. B. Cashion, and C. J. Wandrey, 1992, Oil and gas in uppermost Cretaceous and Tertiary rock, Uinta basin, Utah, in T. D. Fouch, V. F. Nuccio, and T. C. Chidsey, eds., Hydrocarbon and mineral resources of the Uinta basin, Utah and Colorado: Utah Geological Association Guidebook 20, p. 947. Groshong, R. H., 1989, Half-graben structures: balanced models of extensional fault-bend models: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 101, p. 96105. Hansen, W. R., 1984, Post-Laramide tectonic history of the eastern Uinta Mountains, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming: The Mountain Geologists, v. 21, p. 529. Hecker, S., 1993, Quaternary tectonics of Utah with emphasis on earthquake-hazard characterization: Utah Geological Survey Bulletin 127, 157 p. McPherson, B. J., 1997, A three-dimensional model of the geologic and hydrodynamic history of the Uinta basin, Utah: analysis of overpressures and oil migration: Ph.D. dissertation, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 111 p. Narr, W., and J. B. Currie, 1982, Origin of fracture porosity example from Altamont eld, Utah: AAPG Bulletin, v. 66, p. 12311247. Nicol, A., J. Watterson, J. J. Walsh, and C. Childs, 1995, The shapes, major axis orientations and displacement patterns of fault surfaces: Journal of Structural Geology, v. 18, p. 235248. Ray, R. G., B. H. Kent, and C. H. Dane, 1956, Stratigraphy and photograph-geology of the southwestern part of Uinta basin, Duchesne and Uintah counties, Utah: U.S. Geological Survey Oil and Gas Inventory Map OM 171, scale 1:63360, 2 plates. Spencer, C. W., 1987, Hydrocarbon generation as a mechanism for overpressuring in Rocky Mountain region: AAPG Bulletin, v. 71, p. 368388.

CONCLUSIONS The Duchesne graben is a structural half graben located along the crest of an open anticline. The master fault crops out along the southern ank of the graben and dips northward at 75. About 200 m of vertical displacement exist on the master fault in the center of the graben, and displacement dies out to the east and west. The master fault may root into a gently northward-dipping detachment fault in the Green River Formation at a depth of approximately 1 km, or alternatively, the master fault may be planar and die out downward into the Green River Formation above a depth of approximately 1.4 km. No evidence exists for Quaternary faulting, although groundwater movement may be retarded by impermeable faults and locally channeled through open fractures to form springs. Hydrocarbon traps in the Duchesne graben are formed by faults and possibly by the broad, low-amplitude anti1678 Duchesne Graben, Uinta Basin (Utah)