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The Chuar Petroleum System, Arizona and Utah

December 1, 2016

The Neoproterozoic Chuar Group consists of marine mudstone, sandstone and dolomitic strata divided into the Galeros and Kwagunt Formations, and is exposed only in the eastern Grand Canyon, Arizona. Research by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the late 1980s identified strata within the group to be possible petroleum source rocks, and in particular the Walcott Member of the Kwagunt Formation. Industry interest in a Chuar oil play led to several exploratory wells drilled in the 1990s in southern Utah and northern Arizona to test the overlying Cambrian Tapeats Sandstone reservoir, and confirm the existence of the Chuar in subcrop. USGS geochemical analyses of Tapeats oil shows in two wells have been tentatively correlated to Chuar bitumen extracts. Distribution of the Chuar in the subsurface is poorly constrained with only five well penetrations, but recently published gravity/aeromagnetic interpretations provide further insight into the Chuar subcrop distribution. The Chuar petroleum system was reexamined as part of the USGS Paradox Basin resource assessment in 2011. A map was constructed to delineate the Chuar petroleum system that encompasses the projected Chuar source rock distribution and all oil shows in the Tapeats Sandstone, assuming that the Chuar is the most likely source for such oil shows. Two hypothetical plays were recognized but not assessed: (1) a conventional play with a Chuar source and Tapeats reservoir, and (2) an unconventional play with a Chuar source and reservoir. The conventional play has been discouraging because most surface structures have been tested by drilling with minimal petroleum shows, and there is some evidence that petroleum may have been flushed by CO2 from Tertiary volcanism. The unconventional play is untested and remains promising even though the subcrop distribution of source facies within the Chuar Group is largely unknown.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title The Chuar Petroleum System, Arizona and Utah
Authors Paul G. Lillis
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70179089
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Energy Resources Science Center