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NEW FOR 2018!    RMS-SEPM Brown Bag Luncheon Series

Our Next Luncheon Talk

(11:30 Reception; 11:45 Lunch; 12:15 Talk)


The next talk of the 2018 RMS-SEPM Luncheon Lecture Series will be held on Tuesday, March 27th, 2018.

Tectonics and Sedimentation of Permian Delaware Basin Deepwater Systems

Michael H. Gardner

Independent Consultant


11:30 Reception, 11:45 Lunch, 12:15 Talk
at the
Wynkoop Brewing Company
1634 18th St., Denver, CO

The cost is $25.00 for current members and $35.00 for non-members ($10 of which pays for an annual RMS-SEPM membership). Unemployed individuals may sign up for lunch for just $10.00. Persons who do not wish to have lunch are welcome for a $10.00 fee. Walk-ins may purchase a lunch for the standard fees ($25.00 or $35.00) although quantities are limited. Walk-ins without a lunch are charged a $10.00 fee.

Please submit reservations by 10:00 a.m., the Friday before the talk.

After the reservation deadline, you may attend the talk for a $10.00 "walk-in" fee. Reservations may be secured online, by e-mail at
or by calling Robin Swank at 720-272-6697


Despite recording low-energy sedimentation, organic carbon-rich mudrocks (ORM) derived from subaqueous flows can be correlated to tectonics. This relationship explains changes in deepwater systems of the (1) Wolfcamp, (2) Bone Spring and (3) Cutoff (Avalon) formations and (4) Delaware Mountain Group (DMG).

Temporal phases of uplift > erosion, steady-state, and uplift < erosion characterize first-order mountain building and basin formation. Overlapping and far-field stress regimes from oblique WNW-directed plate collision and ENE-directed subduction generated the circular Permian Basin configuration and the bathymetry for carbonate production. Continental uplift sourced sand and silt from the north. The collisional suture connected the ocean and trapped sediment producing a paleogeography of plate collision resembling the Mediterranean Sea.

Oblique shear and subduction-related subsidence created the second-order Delaware and other sub-basins. Third-order flexures caused internal instability and bathymetry. Fourth-order slump scars and mass failures locally ponded sediment. Fifth-order depositional relief provided the local channel gradient for growth of submarine fans. These surface movements link tectonics to sedimentation.

Tectonics directly impact sediment source, subaqueous flow initiation and magnitude, and slope and canyon formation and indirectly affect marine algae, carbonate mud and hypersaline water incorporated into flows and failures originating from carbonate shelves. The ORM forms ripple interlaminations, matrix, sedimentary facies, drapes and thin continuous intervals. Hypersalinity explains anomalously negative carbon isotope values from Brushy Canyon ORM.

Catastrophic shelf failures and infrequent deposition from big events characterize the early Permian when U > E (~350 m; > 15 my). Wolfcamp reservoirs are comparable to the high-magnitude Contessa Bed of the Miocene Marnoso-Arenacea Formation in Italy. The steady-state Bone Spring system (~850 m; 8 my) records reciprocal patterns of highstand carbonate ramp and lowstand fan deposition. Small turbidites form fine sandstone reservoirs recording molecular sieving and limited migration from ORM. The Cutoff system (~150 m; 2 my) records reorganization from steady-state to U < E. Smaller carbonate buildups are terraced inboard of older shelf margins incised by canyons. Regional sea-level change best explains the short duration formation of numerous small debris flows, resedimented turbidites and submarine unconformities. The ORM reservoirs drape complicated topography and poor-quality reservoirs record limited migration. Recycled eolian and basement uplifts sourced voluminous feldspar-bearing sands of the DMG when U < E (~1000 m; 10-my). The oldest Brushy Canyon Formation shelf record is a regional unconformity. Highly channelized fans overlap down-profile of canyons and later below reef inlets. The ORM interbeds source reservoirs consisting of small turbidites.


Speaker Biography:

Michael H. Gardner received degrees in geology from the University of Colorado, Boulder (BA, 1986) and the Colorado School of Mines (PhD, 1993). After a long academic career, he is now a consultant from Montana.



Speaker List

Click on the talk title for a PDF version of the abstract.


Sep 26

Ali Jaffri, Applied Stratigraphix

Our Belief in Benches; Will it Ever Go Away? A Sequence Stratigrapher's Perspective on Layer-Cake Stratigraphy

Oct 31

Steve Cumella, Whiting Consultant

Fun Things to Do with Digital Logs in Your Spare Time

Nov 28

Sven Egenhoff, CSU

What is so Special about Shales? Concepts, Questions, and Problems (and, a few Answers)

Dec   Break

Jan 30

Donna Anderson

Subcrop reinterpretation of the Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite and Devonian Darby Formation, Southwest Wyoming

Feb 27

Larry Rasmussen

Early Triassic Moenkopi Petroleum System of Central Utah

Mar 27

Michael Gardner

Tectonics and Sedimentation of Permian Delaware Basin Deepwater Systems
Apr 24

John Curtis

Time-Lapse Geochemistry of Source-Rock Reservoirs: One Approach & Initial Observations
May 29 TBD  
Oct 30 Jeff May The Sedimentology of Mudrocks: Organisms, Organics & Occasional Occurrences


In order to keep our Luncheon Program solvent and operating on schedule,
the RMS-SEPM Board has adopted the following guidelines for reservations and seating at the Wynkoop:

  • Reservations for this Luncheon Talk will be closed at 10:00am on Friday, before the talk. (No reservations are needed for walk-ins.)