Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geological Sciences

First Advisor

David A. Budd

Second Advisor

Mary J. Kraus

Third Advisor

G. Lang Farmer

Fourth Advisor

Charles R. Stern

Fifth Advisor

Harihar Rajaram


This study documents the distribution of diagenetic alterations in Williams Fork fluvial sandstones, assess sequence stratigraphic controls on diagenetic features, and addresses diagenetic impacts on porosity. Petrographic point counts of 220 thin sections from six wells forms the database. The near absence of potassium feldspar and volcanic rock fragments in the lower Williams Fork interval and increasing plagioclase content upward represent changes in sediment provenance rather than stratigraphic variability in diagenesis. The lower Williams Fork sands are from sedimentary sources whereas middle and upper Williams Fork sands include input from magmatic arcs and basement uplifts.

Compaction, early and late cementation, dissolution, and replacement by calcite or clay minerals combined to alter Williams Fork sandstones. Infiltration of clays occurred prior to any burial. Chlorite, quartz, non-ferroan calcite, compaction and dissolution features, and kaolinite formed during eo-diagenesis at <70°C. More quartz, compaction and dissolution features, plus albite, illite, mixed-layer illite/smectite, ferroan calcite, and dolomite formed in the meso-diagenetic realm (>70°C). Four of these features show spatial variability with respect to systems tracts. Infiltrated clays are concentrated in lowstand systems tracts (LST) and highstand systems tracts (HST) because accommodation space rose slow or fell during deposition of those sands, which led to prolonged sand body exposure on floodplain and ample opportunities for downward percolation of mud during flood events. Concentration of pseudomatrix (mud intraclasts) in HST and LST deposits resulted from floodplain erosion when base-level fell with decreasing accommodation space. Authigenic chlorite formed in the HST and transgressive systems tracts (TST) of the upper half of the Williams Fork Formation because volcanic clasts are abundant in that interval. Quartz overgrowths are more likely to exceed 7% in TST deposits for reasons that are unknown. High total clay content (infiltrated, grain coatings, pseudomatrix) does inhibit quartz overgrowths in all systems tracts.

Williams Fork sandstones form low-permeability tight-gas reservoirs. Primary porosity was almost entirely destroyed by compaction and cementation. Reservoir rock resulted from one of two pathways. Eogenetic authigenic chlorite and/or calcite inhibited quartz cementation, minimized compaction and protected some primary porosity. Alternately, dissolution of framework grains or cements created secondary porosity. The later pathway tends to be the more dominant.