Family has Texas-Sized Fun on Folly
An extended family from Texas met me at the dock. Mom, Dad, and the four grandkids had driven to Folly from Houston for spring break. Grandma and Grandpa flew in from West Texas to join them. They came from the oil fields of Midland, a Permian Basin town just east of New Mexico. We got settled aboard the boat. Dad asked what class of boat we were in. Not sure how to answer, I told him we were in a Carolina Skiff made in Georgia equipped to legally carry up to 12 passengers. He seemed satisfied. I appreciated his curiosity. The four kids ranged from a sulking 7th grader to a manically-happy 4-year-old.
Southwest Texas, where the Grams lived, is oil country. Here the Permian Basin contains the richest known oil play in North America. Just recently in the Delaware Basin (part of the Permian basin) huge (HUGE!!!) newly discovered oil reserves have been documented.
For hundreds of millions of years, what became Southwest Texas existed as a shallow tropical sea. A vast, highly productive reef of coral, sponges, brachiopods, and other organisms thrived here, creating kilometers thick carbonate sedimentary layers destine to lithify into oil rich source rock.
About 320 million years ago all the earth’s continents began huddling together into one landmass known as Pangaea. Great tectonic forces associated with Pangaea’s formation split the Permian basin into the Delaware basin and the Midland Basin. The associated tectonic mountain-building began filling the basins with sediments, smothering the reefs.
Eventually, climatic shifts dried up the inland sea to form thick layers of anhydrite and salt, known as evaporites. The trapped organics beneath these evaporite layers cooked into a nice pot of oil-producing gumbo.
This basin has steadily produced oil since the end of World War I. Because of technology, such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, high-volume oil production continues today.
Before the family climbed back onto the boat from Morris Island’s beach, I took their photo. “How big is Texas?” I yelled. All arms swung wide for the shot.
Anton DuMars, a coastal geologist and longtime Folly resident, prefers the summer side of March. Go sailing with Anton aboard “Spartina”. Information: sailspartina.com.