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Calcite cement is the dominant control on reservoir quality in turbidite sandstones of the Upper Permian Bell Canyon Formation, Delaware Basin. These well-sorted, very fine-grained arkoses were deposited in a basin-floor setting by channel-levee systems terminating in broad lobes. Calcite cement distribution in the East Ford and Geraldine Ford fields was mapped using core, log, and thin-section data. Calcite is concentrated in tightly cemented zones that are mostly less than 1 ft (0.3 m) thick. Areas that have high percentages of calcite-cemented sandstone (>20%) occur along the margins of the sandstone bodies, in overbank and lobe deposits, where sandstone pinches out into siltstone. Areas that have the lowest percentage of calcite-cemented sandstone (<10%) occur where the sandstone is thickest, in the channel facies.
Isotopic composition of the calcite (δ13C = −1.8 to −3.0‰ [relative to the Peedee belemnite, PDB], δ18O = −4.6 to −6.3‰ [PDB]) is consistent with the source of calcium carbonate being from dissolution of detrital carbonate rock fragments and marine skeletal debris. Because internal sources of calcite were apparently insufficient to account for the cement volume, cement components are interpreted as having been transported into the sandstones from organic-rich basinal siltstones and limestones. Feldspars buffered acidic formation waters near where they entered the sandstone, resulting in calcite concentrated near the sandstone margins. The calcite formed near maximum burial depths of 4800 ft (1.5 km) and temperatures of 104°F (40°C) from marine pore waters with δ18O of approximately 0‰ (relative to standard mean ocean water).
Most of the calcite-cemented zones are interpreted as being concretions that extend no more than a few meters laterally. Production data and geophysical log correlations suggest that some cemented zones are laterally continuous at least 1000 ft (300 m) and cause vertical reservoir compartmentalization. Laterally extensive calcite layers may be associated with the base of turbidite deposits.
Shirley Dutton is a senior research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology with research interests in sedimentary petrology, clastic diagenesis, sedimentology, and reservoir characterization. She received a B.A. degree from the University of Rochester and an M.A. degree and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, all in geology. She was an AAPG Distinguished Lecturer in 1987.