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System: Mississippian

Lower Mississippian--Province Summary

This Lower Mississippian Play information is from the U. S. Geological Survey 1995 National Assessment of United States Oil and Gas Resources (available on CD-ROM from the U.S.G.S. as Digital Data Series DDS-30, Release 2).

Lower Mississippian Stratigraphic Oil and Gas Play

by Mitchell E. Henry and Timothy C. Hester

This play extends throughout the province, with the exception of the extreme southern and southwestern parts where Mississippian age strata are missing. The play consists of all Kinderhookian, Osagian, and Meremecian age strata except the St. Louis Formation and those parts included in the Deep Stratigraphic Gas Play. Depths range from about 4,000 ft on the northeastern shelf to 13,000 ft at the southern play boundary (the upper depth limit of the Deep Stratigraphic Gas Play). Some individual units within the above named strata appear to be absent along the eastern and northeastern part of the play, probably due to subareal erosion and ultimate truncation along the Nemaha and Central Kansas Uplifts, and the Pratt Anticline. The stratigraphic units included in this were selected largely on the basis of the distribution of major accumulations and on lithology. Most major accumulations occur along the eastern and northeastern boundary of the province, suggesting a relationship between reservoir and trap development and the presence of major structural features. The distribution of major accumulations and a carbonate lithology are the principal defining features of this play.


Reservoir rocks consist of all Kinderhookian, Osagian, Meremecian age carbonate rocks (except those parts previously noted). Attempting to differentiate these rocks in the subsurface can be very difficult (Harris, 1975). Lithologies are generally limestone or cherty limestone (for example, Mississippi Chat), or mixed. Thickness ranges from a few tens of feet on the uplifts along the eastern and northeastern parts of the province to an estimated 1,800 ft in southern Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle at the boundary of Deep Stratigraphic Gas Play. Reservoir quality is variable depending on depositional facies trends or fracture patterns (Harris, 1975), or the presence of regional erosional surfaces.

Source rocks, timing, and migration

The most probable source rock for this play is the Woodford Shale. Source-rock characteristics of the Woodford are described under Deep Structural Gas Play and, in detail, in Hester and others (1990). Large quantities of petroleum produced from lower Mississippian strata verify the favorable timing of trap formation, and oil and gas generation and migration in this play. Oil accumulations occur about twice as often as gas accumulations. Future discoveries are expected to occur in about the same ratio.


Trapping mechanisms are fairly evenly divided among stratigraphic, structural, and combination. Traps found in the Sooner Trend are attributed to lateral variability of fracture patterns and conventional top and bottom seals (Harris, 1975). Fracture development in the limestone is related to increasing silica (chert) content (Harris, 1975). Hill and Clark (1980) called attention to the northwest-southeast lineation of fields in the area of the Sooner Trend and attributed trap formation there to linear subcrops of Mississippian erosional remnants. Depth of known major accumulations in this play range from about 4,400 to 10,000 ft. Most of these, as well as most minor production, occur in the eastern and northeastern parts of the province, a pattern which serves, in part, to distinguish this play from the Upper Mississippian Stratigraphic Gas and Oil Play, which produces mostly from the central part of the shelf area.

Exploration status

Hydrocarbon production in this play is dominated by the Sooner Trend, with an estimated ultimate recovery of 180 MMBO. Treated here as a single field, the Sooner Trend is actually a conglomerate evolved from many smaller fields. The largest gas deposit is found at Glick field with an estimated ultimate recovery of 722 BCFG. The earliest known major discovery in the play was the Pleasant Valley field in 1938. Fifty-four oil accumulations and 28 gas accumulations are assigned to this play. Drilling depths, estimated to the top of the Meremecian Series, range from about 4,000 ft in the northeastern part of the province to 13,000 ft at the southern play boundary (upper depth limit of Deep Stratigraphic Gas Play). The Lower Mississippian Stratigraphic Oil and Gas has been well explored near the Sooner Trend, moderately well explored along the northeastern boundary, and less explored in the remainder of the play. In total, more than 11,600 wells have penetrated the Meremec (top of this play) and more than 1,600 of those are reported as hydrocarbon producers. Most production is concentrated around the Sooner Trend area and along the northeastern boundary of the play.

Resource potential

Although much of this play is not well explored, most production is from reservoirs associated with stratigraphic traps largely controlled by subareal exposure, unconformity surfaces, and facies changes associated with the major uplifts along the eastern and northeastern boundaries. This suggests that much of the play, away from major structural influence, does not have the potential for developing reservoirs necessary to contain large undiscovered petroleum resources, which is a serious limitation. Many local structures large enough to be defined using seismic data, have already been drilled.

Play Map


Harris, S.A., 1975, Hydrocarbon accumulation in "Meramec-Osage" (Mississippian) rocks, Sooner Trend, northwest-central Oklahoma: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 59, p. 633-664.

Hester, T.C., Schmoker, J.W., and Sahl, H.L., 1990, Log-derived regional source-rock characteristics of the Woodford Shale, Anadarko basin, Oklahoma: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1866-D, 64 p.

Hill, G.W., Jr., and Clark, R.H., 1980, The Anadarko basin--A regional petroleum accumulation--A model for future exploration and development: Shale Shaker, v. 31, no. 3, p. 36-49.

Kansas Geological Survey, Digital Petroleum Atlas
Updated July 16, 1996
Comments to webadmin@kgs.ku.edu