Hydrocarbon Source Rock Characterization, Burial History, and Thermal Maturity of the Steele, Niobrara and Mowry Formations at Teapot Dome, Wyoming


Teapot Dome oilfield near the town of Midwest, Wyoming, has been the testing site of numerous drilling and production techniques since the early 1900's. The structure is a doubly plunging basement-cored anticline that formed during the Laramide orogeny, with sediments ranging from Cambrian to Quaternary. The Steele, Niobrara, and Mowry formations are potential source rocks in the area. In this study, we combine geochemical analyses with one-dimensional modeling of burial history, thermal maturity, and timing of petroleum generation to evaluate the potential of the field for unconventional exploration. Rock Eval™ pyrolysis and oxidation results show a mixture of Type II and Type III kerogen in the Niobrara and Mowry formations, and no hydrocarbon generation potential for the Steele Formation. These geochemical results, combined with regional tectonics, stratigraphy, and sedimentological conditions, were implemented into burial history and maturation models. Results from the modeling show that the Niobrara and Mowry formations are in the early oil generation window. The Mowry is the most mature of the three formations, but only 10% of the kerogen has been converted to oil. The study area did not reach the thermal maturity required to generate the significant amount of oil and gas produced to date from the structure. The results and method of this study can easily be extrapolated to better constrain the basin evolution of nearby fields. This study is significant for further exploration in other established Laramide basins with similar formations.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Burial history; Mowry; Niobrara; Source rock; Steele; Teapot Dome; Thermal maturity; Unconventional

Geographic Coverage

Teapot Dome, Wyoming

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0264-8172; 1873-4073

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2019 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2019


Article Location