“Where have I heard that before?”
I was reading about the discovery of the Wolfcamp oil shale in the Permian Basin, and I freely admit, dancing a little in my chair. I’m a conservationist, not an environmentalist of the current style, and I have no problem with hydraulic fracturing properly done. And anything that cuts into the oil revenue for certain Bad People gets at least a little of my support. But where had I heard the term before? It was one of those little things that nag at you from time to time. Because I kept thinking “Wolfcampian” not Wolfcamp.
It took a little hunting through my papers, but what I was thinking about with Wolfcampian was Permian, just not in Texas, but in Kansas, and from when I was doing research on the Anadarko Basin and the Ogallala Aquifer. There is a subdivision of the Permian in Kansas that is called the Wolfcampian.
The Permian lasted from around 299 million years ago to roughly 252 million years ago. The Wolfcampian is in the earliest part of the Permian, when tectonic collisions created mountains to the north and east, the Ouachita Mountains, and their erosional sediments ran into the deep basins created during the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian. Some also flowed further north into what is now Kansas. Later uplift, erosion, folding and faulting turned the formation called Wolfcamp or referred to as being Wolfcampian (of the same time and similar consistency) into an oil and/or gas trap. I suspect there will be some re-exploration of the Kansas Wolfcampian, or perhaps not, depending on economics and depths. You generally don’t find a lot of natural gas or petroleum remaining in formations that are exposed to the surface for anyone to walk up to and chip chunks off of.
So I had not lost my mind, Wolfcampian was indeed what I had first learned, and it wasn’t talking about Texas.
Funny story about Alma and the Permian Basin. A number of years ago I was on a family trip to the TransPecos and we went to the Permian Basin oil museum in Odessa. I have family connections to the opening of the basin, and to the oil business, and it was fascinating to see the geology and technology behind the famous (or infamous if you recall the 1980s bust) formation. One excellent display allows you to walk along the margin of the reef as it might have been waaaaaay back in geologic time and peer into the depths of the basin. I lasted all of five or six seconds. Guess who seems to have a form of fear of heights and distances that is triggered by not having any sort of horizon? Guess who discovered it in the walk-through diorama? I ended up facing the reef, nose-to-nose with the glass, and edging my way through the display until I got out into a room with walls.