Chemostratigraphy Of The Late Cretaceous Eagle Ford Group, South Texas
Nikirk, Robert Francis
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Strata of the Eagle Ford Group of South Texas, deposited during the Cenomanian and Turonian of the Late Cretaceous, are largely characterized as mixed siliciclastic and carbonate mudrocks rich in organic carbon. The Eagle Ford Group records deposition within the Maverick Basin, along the Comanche Shelf, at the southern margin of the Western Interior Seaway in present-day South Texas. In recent years, the Eagle Ford has emerged as one of the premiere petroleum plays, as it has been proven to be capable of producing significant volumes of dry gas, wet gas/condensates, and oil. It is believed the Eagle Ford represents deposition during the globally correlative Ocean Anoxic Event #2, characterized by the accumulation and preservation of vast amounts of organic carbon due to the expansion of large deep-water oxygen minimum zones. This study integrates geochemical analyses of six drill cores from Gonzales, Guadalupe, La Salle and Wilson counties of South Texas. These cores were studied to determine bulk geochemistry, redox conditions, and degree of basin restriction and deepwater renewal times in order to provide a detailed assessment of the chemostratigraphy and paleoceanography of the Eagle Ford Group. Each core was scanned at one foot intervals with a handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer to obtain quantitative measurements of major elements, such as Ca, Al and Si, as well as redox sensitive trace metals, such as V, Zn, Ni and Mo. In addition, some cores were analyzed for total organic carbon (TOC), total inorganic carbon (TIC), and stable isotope (δ¹³C and δ¹⁸O) signatures of the inorganic, carbonate component. The elevated levels of redox sensitive trace metals of the Lower Eagle Ford, represented here by the Lake Waco and Pepper Shale Formations, reveals deposition during a time of anoxic or euxinic conditions leading to the preservation of large amounts of organic carbon (~5% TOC). The South Bosque Formation, representing the Upper Eagle Ford, displays reduced levels of these trace metals, suggesting a return to a more oxygenated environment prior to the deposition of the overlying, fully oxygenated and heavily bioturbated Austin Chalk. The physical paleoceanography of the Eagle Ford is revealed to be restricted at times and more open at others with lower deep-water renewal times, yet remained mainly within an anoxic or euxinic state. In regard to the inorganic stable isotopic data, the δ¹³C carb values, which other studies have shown to display a positive excursion at the time of OAE2, suggest this event is not preserved within the cores analyzed.