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

Upper Desmoinesian--Province Summary

This Upper Desmoinesian 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 Desmoinesian Oil and Gas Play

by Mitchell E. Henry and Timothy C. Hester

The Upper Desmoinesian Oil and Gas Play contains mostly limestone reservoirs, and consists of all Upper Desmoinesian Marmaton Group strata, including those correlative units in the Middle Pennsylvanian Deese Group. The upper boundary of this play is the top of the Desmoinesian. The play extends throughout the province except that part at the southern boundary where Desmoinesian strata are apparently absent. Depths range from 3,500 ft at the top of the Marmaton Group on the northern shelf to near 13,000 ft at its base near the Wichita Mountains front. The predominance of limestone reservoirs is the principal defining feature of this play.


Reservoirs consist of undifferentiated Marmaton Group strata, and the upper part of the Deese Group, including the Oswego lime, and the Gibson, Glover, and Culberson sands. The Marmaton Group consists primarily of limestone with thin shale beds in the northern Oklahoma and Kansas portion of the play (Bingham, 1993) but it contains mostly terrigenous clastics to the south (Moore, 1979). Marmaton rocks range in thickness from about 175 ft in the northernmost part of the province to an estimated 1,700 ft at the southern play boundary. Porosity of productive Marmaton strata ranges from 2 to almost 18 percent.

Source rocks

Source rocks for this play may be the Marmaton shales (or other Pennsylvanian shales) in the deeper, more thermally mature parts of the basin. South of the Kansas-Oklahoma border, all of these potential source rocks have probably reached the thermal zone of oil generation (Schmoker, 1989). The mixed types of produced hydrocarbons suggest a mixture of kerogen types in the source rock. Other source rock qualities of Middle and Upper Pennsylvanian shales are discussed in Lower Desmoinesian Stratigraphic Gas and Oil Play.

Timing and migration

Past success in this play indicates favorable timing of generation and migration of hydrocarbons and trap formation. Hydrocarbon generation probably began as early as 250 Ma in the deeper parts of the play. Most major accumulations occur in the area of thermally mature Marmaton strata and are concentrated near the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles. Reservoirs in immature areas, located near the Central Kansas Uplift or in west-central Kansas, were probably charged by long-distance migration (Burruss and Hatch, 1989).


Structural traps resulting from anticlines and structural noses are most common in this play. Seals are formed by interbedded Pennsylvanian shales. Fifty-two major accumulations are assigned to this play, 38 oil and 14 gas. The largest oil accumulation is at Putnam field, with an estimated ultimate recovery of 65 MMBO. The largest gas accumulation is at South Lambert field, with an estimated ultimate recovery of 123 BCFG.

Exploration status and resource potential

This play is well explored. Wells reporting penetration of Marmaton rocks number more than 40,000. The actual number is probably much greater, perhaps 64,000 or more. Because of this high level of exploration where structural influence is dominant, the potential for major new discoveries seems rather low. Resource estimates are based largely on historical production and well completion records.

Play Map

map showing fields in this play


Bingham, T.L., 1993, Desmoinesian fluvial-deltaic sandstone and shallow-marine limestone--Anadarko basin, Oklahoma, in Debout, D.G., White, W.A., Hentz, T.F., and Grasmick, M.K., Atlas of major Midcontinent gas reservoirs: p. 33-35.

Burruss, R.C., and Hatch, J.R., 1989, Geochemistry of oils and hydrocarbon source rocks, greater Anadarko basin--evidence for multiple sources of oils and long-distance oil migration, in Johnson, K.S., ed., Anadarko Basin Symposium, 1988: Oklahoma Geological Survey Circular 90, p. 53-64.

Moore, G.E., 1979, Pennsylvanian paleogeography of the southern Midcontinent, in Hyne, N.J., ed., Pennsylvanian sandstones of the mid-continent: Tulsa Geological Society Special Publication no. 1, p. 2-12.

Schmoker, J.W., 1989, Thermal maturity of the Anadarko basin, in Johnson, K.S., ed., Anadarko Basin Symposium, 1988: Oklahoma Geological Survey Circular 90, p. 25-31.

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