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  Introduction to the Permian Basin

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- Welcome to the virtual field trip to the Permian and Orogrande Basins. So we'll start with the Permian Basin. On this slide, you've got iconic El Capitan, the reef itself. And when people ask me why the Permian Basin, why lead field trips there? There's excellentin Oman, in Mallorca and Menorca in Spain, and in the Italian Dolomites, so why the Permian Basin? Well, the answer is real simple. Nowhere else on earth do you get such a diversity in platform types and faces that you get in the Permian Basin, and they're super accessible. Also, the arid climate of the Permian Basin makes it extremely conducive to look at well exposed carbonates. The Permian Basin is also the most well studied carbonate province in the world. It's produced up to 29 billions barrels so far, and it's still producing. It's not gonna run out anytime soon from it's unconventional resource production. And we will be doing, during this virtual field trip, for the Capitan reef area of the Permian Bassin, is that we're gonna start on the Basin floor. And we're gonna work our way up the slope, on to the reef, and then behind the reef into the platform interior. And we're gonna talk about different facies associations and processes. And then after this, the next section is in Orogrande Basin, and we're gonna talk about carbonate mounds. So for those of you who are not familiar with the Permian Basin, we're right at the border of Texas and New Mexico. So you can see a map of North America, and the red circle shows you where the field area is gonna be at. We split the Permian Basin up into three distant parts. There's the Midland Basin, the Delaware Basin, and they're separated by what's called the Central Basin Platform. And there's production from both the Midland Basin and the Delaware Basin. And just to orient you, here's the beautiful town of Midland Texas right in the middle of Midland Basin. Our outcrops are right along the margins of the Delaware Basin towards the left. That's what we'll be focusing on. But you see the same units exposed that you're actually getting production from, or units that are acting as see alls. Our future begins in El Paso, TX, which is right by the Mexican border, and what we're gonna do is, we are gonna drive towards Carlsbad, which is in New Mexico. So we're going towards the northeast as we're driving, and then we'll make multiple stops. We're gonna stop and get an overview of the Capitan reef itself, then we're gonna focus on basinal facies. We'll make all those stops. And we're gonna start hiking up into Guadalupe National Park. We're gonna go through the lower slope, the upper slope. Eventually they'll get to the reef. And then, what we're gonna do is we're gonna drive behind the reef, and then we'll show you thecycles that develop in the platform interior. So, on this map, the other things you need to see are the Sacramento Mountains. We're gonna come back to this. This is the Orogrande Basin. This is where we're looking at the carbonate mounds. We make a evening stop at White Sands National Monument. It is not a technical field stop, which is why I haven't included those in the video series. Some field trips will make a stop in the Franklin Mountains to look at calcification. We're not gonna do that. But the option is there if you actually take a real field trip out to the Permian Basin. One of our four stops is gonna be an overlook of El Capitan and the Capitan Reef itself. The focus here is gonna be that this is one of the fewest places in the world with depositional topography preserved, and it's a classic example of a rim detached platform. So this is where we're gonna begin, and then we're gonna get closer and closer to the formations, but this is a great overview slide. And you can compare the photo with the interpretation, and it shows you that in this particular location, we do get siliciclastics as well. And we're gonna discus what influences siliciclastic input versus carbonate input into the basin. For those of you interested in the petroleum system of the Permian Basin, the storefronts are all marine. They were deposited in the basin. They migrate up slope, through the Capitan Reef. Now the reef, didn't really have much original primary porosity or permeability preserved. It's pretty tight, but then later on we had calcification, and due to calcification we've got a well developed porous pore network. And hydrocarbons migrated through that pore network, but they weren't trapped in the reef itself. They passed through the reef, into the platform interior, and they kept migrating laterally until you get to that orange section that Charlie Kerans is trying to show here. And the orange section that you're seeing, those are all evaporite rich cycles. And those evaporites are what provide a lateral seal to the hydrocarbons. So, most of the fields in the Permian Basin that are pre-using from the carbonates and from conventional carbonates are on the shelf. And they're producing right at the transition between these evaporites and the carbonates. This is a stratigraphic column, and it shows many of the formations that you'll be visiting. Everything that we'll be visiting is highlighted in blue. Some of these formation names that you see that aren't highlighted, sometimes there just aren't any exposures for it. Which is why we won't be covering those in this video series. As I mentioned earlier, the first part of this video series focuses on a virtual field trip to the Capitan Reef. Starting from the slope, going through the reef into the platform interior. So, we selected the best spot in the visit. The reef as you can see, using this image from the National Parks Service, is exposing quite a few areas. It's exposing the Apache Mountains and the Guadalupes, and then the Glass Mountains. We're gonna visit these in the Guadalupes, and more specifically in Guadalupe National Park. Now, some people like to call this Guadalupe, which is probably the correct way to say it, considering it's a Spanish word. But we can also call them Guada-Loops. Or if you're a cool carbonate stratigrapher, you just call them the Guads. So, that's where we're headed.