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Play Start Page Play Summary Resources Kansas Info Region: Northern Midcontinent
System: Pennsylvanian

Upper Missourian--Province Summary

This Upper Missourian 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).

Upper Missourian Oil and Gas Play

by Mitchell E. Henry and Timothy C. Hester

The Upper Missourian Oil and Gas Play consists of the upper part of the Upper Pennsylvanian Lansing and Hoxbar Groups, which produce oil and gas almost exclusively from limestones. The play extends throughout the province except in parts of eastern Colorado and on the Wichita Mountains Uplift. Depths to the top of the Lansing Group range from about 2,800 ft in southeastern Colorado to about 11,000 ft in the deep southern part of the play. The concentration of reservoirs in the northern half of the play and the predominantly limestone lithology of reservoir rock are the principal defining features of this play.


Reservoir lithology in this play is generally limestone. Producing intervals are usually identified only to the group level, however, two examples of individual units included in the play are the Avant Limestone and the Upper Oolitic lime (Daube Limestone). This play ranges in thickness from less than 100 ft in the northern part of the play to about 600 ft in the southern part of the play. Porosity typically ranges from about 2 to almost 17 percent and has a median value of about 15 percent.

Source rocks

Probable source rocks for this play are the Pennsylvanian shales in the deeper parts of the basin. Modeling by Schmoker (1989) indicates that petroleum generation may have begun as early as 210 Ma in the southern part of the basin, but that potential source rocks in the Lansing Group in the northern part of the play have probably not generated hydrocarbons. For petroleum found in Upper Pennsylvanian reservoirs in that area, Burruss and Hatch (1992) suggest long-distance migration possibly from Simpson and Woodford shales. A more detailed description of Pennsylvanian source rock characteristics is given in Burruss and Hatch (1992). Timing of hydrocarbon generation and migration, and trap formation is favorable for charging of reservoirs in this play.


Reservoir trap types are generally structural, commonly with a stratigraphic component. Combination-type traps reportedly result from local structure and porosity variability (Parham, 1993). Seals are often formed by enclosing Lansing shales. Nearly all major accumulations occur in the northwestern half of the play, the area that is probably the least likely to have generated petroleum. This distribution supports the idea of long-distance migration of petroleum, and is probably related to better reservoir quality in the shallow carbonates than in the basinward carbonates.

Exploration status

This is a well explored play. More than 24,000 wells are reported to have reached the Lansing Group rocks. With the addition of wells that reached Chesterian through middle Missourian rocks, where Lansing Group tops were not identified, total number of wells in the Lansing Group increase to nearly 75,000. Sixteen major accumulations are assigned to this play, 11 oil and 5 gas. The largest oil accumulation is at Victory field, with an estimated ultimate recovery of 17 MMBO. The largest gas accumulation is at Southeast Falkner field, with an estimated ultimate recovery of 28 BCFG. Known major accumulations range in depth from 3,800 to 5,600 ft.

Resource potential

Based on past successes that have been rather small and few, future discoveries in this play are not expected to be significant. The large number of wells that have been drilled does not indicate a high probability for future discoveries. In addition, nearly all major accumulations are in thermally immature areas on the northern shelf, suggesting long-distance migration of hydrocarbons from a deeper source. The lack of major accumulations in the more thermally mature areas may also indicate a lack of traps or reservoir rocks or both. Historical discovery and well completion data were used extensively in evaluating this play.

Play Map

map showing fields in this play


Burruss, R.C., and Hatch, J.R., 1992, Geochemistry of Pennsylvanian crude oils and source rocks in the greater Anadarko basin--Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska: An update [abs.], in Johnson, K.S., and Cardott, B.J., eds., Source rocks in the southern Midcontinent, 1990 Symposium: Oklahoma Geological Survey Circular 93, p. 197.

Parham, K.D., and Sutterlin, P.G., 1993, Oolite shoals of the Mississippian St. Louis Formation, Gray County, Kansas; a guide for oil and gas exploration, in Keith, B.D., and Zuppann, C.W., eds., Mississippian oolites and modern analogs: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Studies in Geology, no. 35, p. 185-197

Kansas Geological Survey, Digital Petroleum Atlas
Updated May 28, 1998
Comments to webadmin@kgs.ku.edu