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Geologic characterization and depositional history of the Uteland Butte member, Green River Formation, southwestern Uinta Basin, Utah

September 1, 2022

The 15- to 65-m-thick informal Uteland Butte member of the Eocene Green River Formation represents the first widespread transgression of Lake Uinta in the Uinta Basin, Utah. This study assesses the spatial and temporal variation of Uteland Butte member deposits along a 40-km transect in the southwestern margin of the Uinta Basin using detailed measured sections, organic and inorganic geochemical data, and outcrop gamma ray logs. Fourteen lithofacies are identified, which comprise seven facies associations linked to with lacustrine, palustrine, and deltaic depositional settings. Facies associations are traceable laterally across the study area, where five 4- to 12-m-thick depositional cycles are identified. Each shallowing upwards cycle is defined by a >1.5-m-thick basal package of organic-rich, argillaceous laminated mudstone, and is capped by thick packages of bedded carbonate. In the far western study area (Kyune Creek Canyon), thick deposits of organic-rich mudstone are present and represent the most distal outcrop section; time-equivalent strata in the eastern study area (Minnie Maud Creek Canyon) are relatively organic lean with higher silt and clay content, interpreted to represent proximal lake margin deposits influenced by a nearby delta. The outcrop belt is correlated to more distal cores and well logs across the western Uinta Basin. Similar lithological and petrophysical patterns across the western Uinta Basin are used to subdivide stratigraphy into nine laterally contiguous sub-units based on nomenclature from the oil-producing area of the central basin (from base to top: lower Uteland Butte, D Bench, D Shale, C Bench, C Shale, B Bench, B Shale, A Bench, and A Shale). Siliciclastic clay-rich and carbonaterich intervals are correlated across the region and indicate distinct siliciclastic- and carbonate-dominated lake phases during Uteland Butte member deposition. Climate is interpreted to be the dominant driver of these claycarbonate cycles, in which relatively humid periods resulted in increased fluvially derived siliciclastic sediment into the basin (clay-rich periods), and arid periods resulted in evaporative conditions with decreased fluvial sediment input that favor carbonate accumulation. Climatically driven depositional cycles within the Uteland Butte member reflect, to a smaller degree, the larger scale climatically driven depositional cycles observed at the member- and formation levels of Paleocene and Eocene Uinta Basin stratigraphy. Importantly, the Uteland Butte member clay-carbonate cycles showcase how relatively small-scale climate shifts can impact basin-scale lacustrine deposition.

Publication Year 2022
Title Geologic characterization and depositional history of the Uteland Butte member, Green River Formation, southwestern Uinta Basin, Utah
DOI 10.31711/ugap.v50i.106
Authors Ryan D. Gall, Justin E. Birdwell, Riley Brinkerhoff, Michael D. Vanden Berg
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70236510
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Energy Resources Science Center