Geology and mineralization of the Culberson sulfur deposit
Joseph E. Crawford and C. S. Wallace
The Culberson sulfur deposit occurs as a replacement of Upper Permian evaporites (Salado and Castile Formations) by sulfur-bearing carbonates in the west-central Delaware basin. Structures derived from two major periods of tectonic activity control the location of sulfur mineralization. Pre-mineralization faults developed in response to Laramide compressional tectonics in the Late Cretaceous to early Tertiary, as indicated by breccia clast assemblages filling paleokarst features along the faults. Basin and Range extensional tectonics uplifted the western Delaware basin beginning in the middle to latest Miocene, resulting in a change in basin hydrodynamics conducive to bioepigenesis. Age of mineralization may be less than 5 Ma, based on mineralization crosscutting karst-related deposits thought to be of Ogallala (middle-late Miocene) age. Crude oil analyses and con-elation of anionic ground water constituents indicate the Guadalupian Cherry Canyon Formation is a probable source for hydrocarbons and oxygenated waters necessary for bioepigenetic sulfur deposition at Culberson. Sulfur occurs as microcrystalline disseminations in replacement limestone and as crystalline vug fillings associated with epigenetic barite, celestite and isotopically light carbonate minerals.
- Crawford, Joseph E.; Wallace, C. S., 1993, Geology and mineralization of the Culberson sulfur deposit, in: Carlsbad Region, New Mexico and West Texas, Love, David W.; Hawley, John W.; Kues, Barry S.; Adams, Jim W.; Austin, George S.; Barker, James M., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 44th Field Conference, pp. 301-316.