RS-47 Reconnaissance of Potential Sand Sources in Colorado for Hydraulic Fracturing


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Citation: O’Keeffe, Michael K., Matthew L. Morgan, Stephen M. Keller, and Kenneth L. Horkley. RS-47 Reconnaissance of Potential Sand Sources in Colorado for Hydraulic Fracturing. Resource Series, RS-47. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2018.


This report details a state-wide reconnaissance survey of sand sources that may potentially be utilized for hydraulic fracturing. The survey included field sampling, estimates of basic physical properties, a qualitative evaluation of these physical properties, comparison to several general criteria, and, a final rating of the sources. The report also includes background information on the characteristics of proppant sands and a review of the methodologies incorporated in the investigation. The bulk of the report is a detailed analysis of more than 100 sand samples from around the state. All results are presented in this publication and in an online interactive map. PDF includes two statewide map plates replicating the online maps. Digital PDF download. RS-47D

From the Introduction:

In 1947, Stanolind Oil completed the first fracturing treatment using screened sand from the Arkansas River as a proppant. Many oil and gas fields, including the San Juan and Denver- Julesberg basins, would not exist today without hydraulic fracturing and the use of proppants. Today, hydraulic fracturing, combined with horizontal drilling allows multiple wells to be drilled in the same location. This combination is unlocking vast oil and natural gas resources that previously were inaccessible.

Natural proppant sand is mined in the United States to support hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as “fracing” or “fracking”) throughout the country including Colorado. The widespread use of natural proppant sand has increased to support the technology used to develop “tight shale” resources and is critical to the development of horizontal drilling techniques. The primary goal of this study is to determine the suitability of unconsolidated eolian sand and sandstone formations as potential proppant sand and to provide information on the nature and distribution of these sand bodies.