Deep River Basin

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The Deep River Basin of central North Carolina is a 150 mile long northeast trending sedimentary basin or half-graben wherein one side is bounded by a geologic fault. The depression dips deeply towards the fault on its eastern side. It consists of three sub-basins which are from north to south:

  • Durham
  • Sanford
  • Wadesboro

One area that may be prospective for commercial natural gas extraction is in the Cumnock Formation, an 800 foot interval of black shale. It can be found at depths of 3,000 feet or less in the Sanford sub-basin in Lee and Chatham counties. Eleven of 28 holes that have been drilled there have had gas and/or oil shows. The thermal maturity appears sufficient for hydrocarbon production. Deeper parts of the Sanford sub-basin remain completely unexplored, although preliminary 3-D seismic data have suggested multiple structural targets.


North Carolina Geological Survey, Raleigh, NC

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