Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Geochemical studies of the Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin, Colorado: II. Chemofacies from hierarchical cluster analysis

September 1, 2022

Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) was applied to a geochemical dataset representing the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of Colorado to identify chemofacies in core and outcrop samples from the basin margin and the basin center. The input dataset consisted of inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy and mass spectrometry and total organic carbon (TOC) content analyses of 186 basin margin outcrop samples and 190 basin center core samples discussed in Part 1 of this study (this volume). TOC values and twenty-five major and trace elements were used as variables to define statistical clusters of samples for the overall dataset, for the two basin center cores, and for each separate core or outcrop dataset by HCA applying Euclidean distance and Ward’s method algorithms. For each dataset, five cluster-defined chemofacies were identified. The chemofacies for each dataset show chemical affinities with five informally defined rock types– mudstone, marlstone, carbonate-rich mudstone, siliciclastic-rich mudstone/siltstone/sandstone, and Na-rich (saline) mudstone, with each showing variations in TOC content and abundance of redox sensitive minor and trace elements. A close relationship between enrichment of redox sensitive elements, particularly As and Mo, and TOC is identified in the basin center. Whereas enrichment factors (relative to average shale) are relatively low for many Period IV (PIV) transition metals, as discussed in Part 1 of this study, their consistent coherence in enrichment or depletion in HCA-defined chemofacies demonstrates the expected relationship between redox state and organic richness. Enrichment in PIV transition metals also shows a correlation to enrichment in elements with affinity for siliciclastic sediment. Enrichment/depletion among several groups of redox indicators is not everywhere consistent, with some chemofacies showing, for example, enrichment of PIV transition metals and depletion of sulfur and arsenic. Early timing of saline conditions in the basin margin is clearly displayed in the chemofacies log display, consistent with observations based on geochemical interpretations of concentrations and elemental ratios discussed in Part 1. Overall, the chemofacies are consistent with major mineralogical units and lake history stages defined in previous work, but provide more detail on the fluctuations in lake chemistry that occurred during deposition of Green River oil shale in the Piceance Basin.

Publication Year 2022
Title Geochemical studies of the Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin, Colorado: II. Chemofacies from hierarchical cluster analysis
DOI 10.31711/ugap.v50i.115
Authors Tengfei Wu, Jeremy Boak, Justin E. Birdwell
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70236517
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Energy Resources Science Center