This landscape in west Texas and southeastern New Mexico is pock-marked with oil wells and drilling structures connected by roads. The Yates Oil Field exploits petroleum from the Permian Basin, one of the highest producing oil provinces in North America. In the image it’s possible to see the basin’s folded sedimentary rocks. At the base of the basin is ancient continental crust that filled with sediments as the region was covered by shallow seas and then exposed several times during the Paleozoic Era. The thick Permian sediments were organic-rich carbonates and salts that were buried and later folded. Oil was produced and later trapped by the rock layer.
Oil was first discovered on the Yates land in 1926, and by 1995 the land had produced more than 2 billion barrels of oil. The oil field is still productive, but at a diminished rate. While nearly 1 billion barrels is estimated to be still in the ground, it is more difficult to extract than the oil that was produced earlier.
Courtesy of the Johnson Space Center/NASA's Earth Observatory. earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=6776. Public Domain.