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November 14th, 2018 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM


November 14, 2018


SPEAKER:  Erik Kvale,

Devon Energy   


Facies Variability within a Single Wolfcamp Mixed Carbonate-Sliciclastic Fan

(Upper Wolfcamp Fm, Permian, Delaware Basin, New Mexico)



10 NW 6th Street



WEDNESDAY November 14, 2018

LUNCH 11:30am – 1:00pm






Rarely are sea-floor fans containing a significant volume of carbonate detritus documented or discussed. Such fans are common within the lower Permian (Leonardian) Wolfcamp Fm. in the Delaware Basin in SE New Mexico and west Texas, U.S.A. One such mixed carbonate-siliciclastic fan has been studied extensively as part of an unconventional oil/gas exploration and development program in SE New Mexico.  Three cores were collected through an approximately 350 ft. thick interval that defines the fan. Cores collected represent the frontal to distal fringe, off-axis, and lateral fringe portions of the fan.  Core and petrophysical log data shows that carbonate debrites are concentrated in more axial positions and siliciclastic mudstones in more distal areas. Within the condensate window, the finer grained intervals constitute the best unconventional reservoir facies. The carbonate dominated portion of the fan trends at least 35 mi. in a NE-SW direction and 11 mi. NW-SE across. It is partially bounded to the east by a fault. The fan can be divided into lower, middle and upper zones.  The lower zone marks the maximum progradation of coarse carbonate detritus into the basin.  The middle and upper zones are progressively finer grained suggesting a progressive back-stepping of the fan through time. Unlike siliciclastic fans where axial facies are dominated more by turbulent flow deposits (turbidites), the axis, off-axis, and lateral fringe facies in the Wolfcamp are dominated by cohesive laminar flow deposits such as coarse carbonate debrites and mass transport deposits (MTDs).  Mixed carbonate siliciclastic hybrid event beds (HEBs) and finer grained background sediments form a minor component in these areas.  Coarse carbonate deposition decreases towards the frontal fringe areas where facies are dominated by mixed carbonate-siliciclastic mud-rich HEBs and background sedimentation.  The core through the lateral fringe differs from the off-axis core in that the debrites in the lateral fringe are thinner and often rheologically stratified with finer grained debrites sitting directly on top of coarse-grained debrites suggesting a genetic link in their formation.  The axial facies appear to be dominated by thick (amalgamated?) ungraded debrites and MTDs.  Facies changes from axis to frontal fringe appear to be gradual but facies changes from axis to lateral fringe are rapid and may change significantly over a 2 mi. horizontal well.


Erik Kvale is a Senior Geological Advisor with Devon Energy Corporation in Oklahoma City.  He joined Devon in 2006.  His expertise is in clastic sedimentology, facies analysis, and stratigraphy. He has worked with a variety of depositional systems spanning fluvial to deep marine. He holds a Ph.D. in Geology from Iowa State University. 

Erik has worked a variety of plays for Devon but over the past 3 years has focused on understanding the depositional facies and stratigraphy of the Permian Wolfcamp and Leonardian sections in the Delaware Basin.  The emphasis of the studies have been on understanding reservoir potential and identifying sweet spots within the Wolfcamp, Bone Spring, and Leonard Fms.  The outgrowth of this work is that Erik and his colleagues at Devon have proposed one of the first depositional models for mixed carbonate-siliciclastic deep water fans for anywhere in the world (AAPG Bull., accepted pending revision). 

Prior to Devon, Erik worked for the Indiana Geological Survey at Indiana University for 19 years as a research scientist.  His focus was on mapping and understanding Pennsylvanian depositional systems and tidal processes across the eastern U.S.  Highlights of his Indiana University career include working with a group of astrophysicists and Dr. Allen Archer at Kansas State University to figure out a way to use ancient tidal deposits to calculate past Earth-Moon distances.  He has the distinction of having the only geology paper on file with the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Indiana University.


Attendance without reservation will not be possible.  Reservations must be cancelled by November 9, 2018 at noon to avoid being charged.  Thank you for your consideration.