27 September, 2015 Salt Lake City Utah United States

Lacustrine Basin Exploration

20-27 September 2015
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States


Who Should Attend
Geologists, geophysicists, reservoir engineers, managers and anyone working with lacustrine petroleum source rocks, oil shale, lacustrine or fluvial reservoirs, and non-marine basin stratigraphy.

Lake basins contain some of the most prolific hydrocarbon resources in the world, including super-giant fields in the South Atlantic, Caspian Sea, and in China and SE Asia. Even larger resources are associated with oil shale deposits in the western U.S. Despite their growing importance, the petroleum geology of lake basins has received far less attention than marine basins. This course therefore aims at developing an understanding of the unique aspects of lacustrine source rocks, reservoirs, and basin evolution that will aid future exploration and development efforts. We will do so using the world-famous record of Quaternary Lake Bonneville to gain insight on controls on lacustrine deposition, and the similarly famous Eocene Green River Formation to examine the preserved deposits of a well-exposed ancient lake basin.

Specific topics to be emphasized in this field seminar include:

  • Genetic controls on lake basin evolution.
  • Recognition of the three principal lacustrine facies associations, based on surface, subsurface, or geochemical data.
  • Source rock characteristics associated with the three facies associations.
  • Carbonate reservoir characteristics in lacustrine basins.
  • Clastic reservoir (fluvial and deltaic) characteristics in lacustrine basins.
  • Lacustrine stratal geometries and distribution patterns of source rock and reservoir facies.
Course Content

This 6-day Lacustrine Basin Exploration field seminar has been developed on a number of classic field localities in Utah and Wyoming.

Localities outside of Salt Lake City, UT will be used to illustrate key geomorphic and stratigraphic features of pluvial lake Bonneville (Gilbert deltas and other shoreline features) and modern Great Salt Lake (playa-lake environments). These “actualistic” observations will help provide context for understanding the deposits of Eocene Lake Gosiute in Wyoming, where recent radioisotopic work has established a chronostratigraphic framework of unprecedented resolution. There we will focus on basin margin to basin center transects of the Bridger and Washakie basins, based on excellent exposures of fine-grained lacustrine carbonate mudstone facies and alluvial to deltaic sandstone facies. Participants will build two basin-scale cross sections of Lake Gosiute strata by recording their own guided outcrop observations on the chronostratigraphic framework provided.

At the outcrop scale, we will examine the heterogeneous reservoir architecture of alluvial, deltaic, and lake-marginal carbonate deposits associated with overfilled, balanced-fill, and underfilled lacustrine basins. These deposits range in style from classic Gilbert deltas to more “dryland” fluvial facies that are dominated by upper flow regime deposition, to mounded carbonate strata. Laterally equivalent mudstone facies are similarly heterogeneous, ranging from laminated oil shale with abundant fish fossils to pedogenically modified playa facies associated with non marine evaporites. Distinctive biological marker compounds (biomarkers) are associated with each of these facies, and can be used to help determine paleoenvironmental setting.

In addition to field studies, several classroom lectures will be used to illustrate the main course concepts and to provide geologic background information on the field areas. Because fine-grained rocks can appear rather different in core than in outcrop, we will also conduct a half-day core workshop based on representative examples of the major facies associations. We will spend some time developing criteria for subsurface recognition using wire-line logs, seismic, and organic geochemistry.

Field Seminar Location
Begins and ends in Salt Lake City, Utah. More details will follow soon.

Expires on
20 August, 2015
Early Tuition
Expires on
27 September, 2015
Regular Tuition
20 people

PLEASE NOTE:  Registrants in AAPG Field Seminars must complete and sign the Release and Indemnity Form on the bottom of the Registration Form (or read and agree to the appropriate box during online registration.) Your registration will not be complete until we have your signed form in our files.

Tuition includes transportation, course materials, and lunches. Lodging NOT included in tuition. No refunds for cancellations after 8/21/2015.


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Alan R. Carroll University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA
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Stephanie Brown AAPG Assistant Registrar +1 918 560-2930
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Debbi Boonstra Education Manager +1 918 560-2630
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