April 22nd through 27th, 2016, students from classes ESCI 506 “Carbonate Depositional Systems” and ESCI 627 “Sequence Stratigraphy” traveled to West Texas/ New Mexico border on a collaborative field trip to Guadalupe mountains Permian outcrops. The trip was led by Professor André Droxler, Professor (Adjunct) Vitor Abreu, Professor (Adjunct) Paul (Mitch) Harris, and Lecturer Keriann Pederson (ExxonMobil).
A series of canyons cut across the the Permian shelf margin of northwest shelf of Delaware basin exposing the depositional sequences building the stratigraphy through aggradation and progradation. During the field trip Walnut, McKittrick, Dark, Last Chance, and Slaughter Canyons were visited to understand the different depositional environments (Inner shelf, outer shelf, shelf margin, slope, and basin). Through a series of photopans these seismic scale outcrops were also analysed to establish sequence stratigraphic framework.
Field Trip Participants
Students: Boda Li, Heath Hopson, Hualong Zhang, Jennifer Holley, Jingxuan Liu, Maryam Nasizadeh, Priscila Vargas, Savannah Ezelle, Sean Romito, Wenshen Yu, Yuanquan Zhou, Yue Yao, Zuyue Xhang, Xinxin, and Zachary Printz.
Visiting Student : Simon Courgeon, IFREMER (Brest, France)
Teaching Assistant: Pankaj Khanna
Rationale for trip and Agenda
The Permian outcrops of Guadalupe Mountains have played a key role in enhancing our knowledge and developing key conceptual models in carbonates and sequence stratigraphy. This trip takes you to the classic outcrops in Guadalupe Mountains where the stratigraphy, depositional facies, and diagenesis were discussed.
Guadalupe Mountains Digital Elevation Model
The Outcrops visited
- April 23rd – Salt Flat Graben – Overview of Permian Rocks
- April 24th -Walnut and Dark Canyon – Outer Shelf to Capitan Reef Transition Outcrops
- April 25th – McKittric Canyon – Overview of steep platform margin Outcrops
- April 26th – Last Chance Canyon – Ramp deposits San Andres and Grayburg Formation Outcrops
- April 27th – Slaughter Canyon – Shelf to Reef Transition Outcrops
Permian Stratigraphy of the Northwest Shelf of the Delaware Basin (Kerans et al., 2012 – SEPM Conference)
1.April 23rd – Salt Flat Graben – Overview of Permian Rocks
Students were introduced to the Permian stratigraphy and the instructors gave a general overview of the field trip outcrops. First stop was the Salt Flat Graben from where the western escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains is visible. In general the sediments filling the basin were visited on the first day which included Brushy canyon formation and the Castile formation.
Salt Flat Graben – Field Instructor Mitch introducing Guadalupe Mountains – A distant view of the Western Escarpment of Guadalupe Mountains
El Capitan – Field Instructor Vitor and Keriann introducing the Permian Outcrops
Mitch explaining Burshy Canyon Formation Roadcut outcrop
Castile Formation – Black and White bands are calcite and evaporite
2. April 24th -Walnut and Dark Canyon – Outer Shelf to Capitan Reef Transition Outcrops
Walnut Canyon exposes the outer shelf to reef margin outcrops. A series of stops were made to first look at shelf margin outcrops where the reef builders were observed and discussed. Reef Outcrops: Variety of sponges, phylloid algae, and marine cements were observed. Later outer shelf outcrops were visited to observe Teepe structures with pisolites and ooids.
Walnut Canyon – Overview of the Capitan Reef
Capitan Reef discussion – Introduction of reef builders in Permian
Walnut Canyon – Keriann introducing outer shelf environments
Walnut Canyon – Teepee structures
Dark Canyon – Crinoid stems
3. April 25th – McKittric Canyon – Overview of steep platform margin Outcrops
McKittric Canyon has the best outcrops which expose toe of slope and slope facies of the Permian shelf margin.
McKittric Canyon Overview
McKittric Canyon – Toe of slope discussion
McKittric Canyon – Slope discission
McKittric Canyon – Group in action
McKittrick Canyon – Peak conquered by Heath, Zack, Sean, Harlan, Simon and Pankaj
4. April 26th – Last Chance Canyon – Ramp deposits San Andres and Grayburg Formation Outcrops
Last chance canyon exposes the older prograding mixed carbonate-siliciclastic ramp deposits of the San Andres and Grayburg Formation. Photo-pan exercises were given to students to build a sequence stratigraphic framework for these outcrops.
Additionally Inner shelf deposits were also visited which include stromatolites and evaporites.
Last Chance Canyon – Inner shelf environment – Stromatolites
Last Chance Canyon – Inner shelf environment – evaporites
Last Chance Canyon – Tufa deposit
Last Chance Canyon – discussion of prograding mixed carbonate-siliciclastic ramp deposits of the San Andres and Grayburg Formation
5. April 27th – Slaughter Canyon – Shelf to Reef Transition Outcrops
Photo-pan exercise and discussion of shelf-to-reef transition stratigraphy and facies
Slaughter Canyon – Great exposure of shelf to slope deposits
Slaughter Canyon was the last stop where everything was put in perspective and the final discussions about the depositional environments and sequence stratigraphic framework were carried out.
This is a mixed carbonate clastic setting and hence having field instructors from both the areas was great. In all, we had a lot of interesting discussions about the depositional environments from carbonate and clastic viewpoints. Additionally, this setting is still producing subsurface just north and east to these outcrops and hence provides students the best experience to learn about hydrocarbon systems.
In the end I would like to thank all the instructors: Professor André Droxler, Professor (Adjunct) Vitor Abreu, Professor (Adjunct) Paul (Mitch) Harris, and Lecturer Keriann Pederson (ExxonMobil) for a great field trip and last but not the least the eager and enthusiastic students without whom there would have been be no field trip.