One Last Look at a Successful AAPG Year

In the northern hemisphere we are preparing for winter. Each day the sun sits lower in the sky, rising later and sinking earlier. Here in Oklahoma – where the wind famously comes sweepin’ down the plain – the wind has a decided chill to it, and out come the sweaters, coats, hats and mittens.

For many of us, this season also is a time to spend with family and friends, enjoy crackling fires, offer good cheer and reflect on the year past and the year ahead.

At AAPG it’s been a year of continued progress and growth. Our membership numbers at the beginning of November were just below 40,000. These are oil and gas professionals – geoscientists, engineers, and other interested folks – who are drawn to the products and services that AAPG offers.

And perhaps most importantly, they join the Association to associate with like-minded men and women who find and produce the oil and natural gas that fuels the world.

Our mission at AAPG is to advance petroleum geoscience and to promote and encourage professionalism. And we’ve certainly worked to do just that.

This year we conducted two major AAPG conferences: ACE in Pittsburgh and ICE in Cartagena, Colombia. Both were successful events, providing an opportunity to learn through strong technical programs, educational courses, and opportunities to network with colleagues from across the globe.

In addition to these flagship AAPG events, we cooperated and participated in several other major conferences, including OTC, OTC Brasil, IPTC in Beijing, the Arctic Technology Conference, and 3P – Polar Petroleum Potential.

One notable addition to this line-up was the launch of URTeC, the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, in cooperation with SPE and SEG. Building upon this initial success, we are now planning for the 2014 URTeC. And, in fact, the call for papers is currently open (see related story, page 4). I would encourage you to submit a paper and contribute to the momentum behind this multidisciplinary conference.

In addition to these large events, AAPG participated in numerous smaller events.

Last month I told you about the joint research symposium on fine-grained sediments we conducted with SEPM, Petrochina RIPED and the China University of Petroleum in Beijing. The Europe Region held a Region conference in Barcelona. And we conducted nearly 30 Geoscience Technology Workshops and Forums in the eastern and western hemispheres.

There were two Hedberg research conferences in 2013. The first, held in Beijing, focused on fundamental controls on petroleum systems in lower Paleozoic and older strata. The second was titled “3-D Structural Geologic Interpretation: Earth, Mind and Machine,” conducted in Reno, Nev.

AAPG provided numerous opportunities to learn something new by offering our members and customers worldwide access to over 50 short courses and 14 field seminars.

And don’t forget about AAPG publications – in 2013 the BULLETIN contained 83 peer-reviewed articles and we published seven books, ranging from the Great American Carbonate Bank to energy resources in the solar system.

A significant highlight this year is our partnership with SEG in launching the new quarterly peer-reviewed journal INTERPRETATION, focused on subsurface interpretation. The emphasis of this new periodical is the integration of tools and technology with scientific principles and insights.

This year also saw the formation of AAPG’s fourth technical division, the Petroleum Structure and Geomechanics Division. And this group, which has existed informally for quite a few years, is now formally recognized within AAPG and is focused solely on advancing the petroleum geosciences in the tectonic, structural geology and geomechanics domain.

In addition, to better serve our members and customers, we launched the AAPG Advisory and the Advisory Alert this summer. With these two monthly emails from AAPG we aim to keep you connected and informed with the many ways that you can engage with your fellow oil and gas professionals.

And we’ve added staff, based in Bogotá, Colombia, and Lagos, Nigeria, to create new opportunities for and better serve our members in Latin America and Africa.

There’s a common thread that weaves throughout all of these activities: The engaged member or contributor who offers to share his or her scientific or professional knowledge and experience for the benefit of the profession. That’s what makes professional societies unique – we teach each other what we know.

And it’s how we collectively accomplish AAPG’s mission.

As 2013 draws to a close I invite you to reflect on what you gained in the past year from AAPG membership, and how you contributed. It is your involvement that propels the Association forward.

The demand for petroleum continues to grow. And while AAPG may be approaching its 100th birthday, I can assure you that in pursuing our goal of advancing the world of petroleum geoscience we’re just getting started.

Happy Holidays!

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Director's Corner

Director's Corner - David Curtiss

David Curtiss is an AAPG member and was named AAPG Executive Director in August 2011. He was previously Director of the AAPG GEO-DC Office in Washington D.C.

The Director's Corner covers Association news and industry events from the worldview perspective of the AAPG Executive Director.

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See Also: Bulletin Article

Thirty-seven mudstone samples were collected from the uppermost Lower Mudstone Member of the Potrerillos Formation in El Gordo minibasin within La Popa Basin, Mexico. The unit is exposed in a circular pattern at the earth's surface and is intersected by El Gordo diapir in the northeast part of the minibasin. Vitrinite reflectance (Ro) results show that samples along the eastern side of the minibasin (i.e., south of the diapir) are mostly thermally immature to low maturity (Ro ranges from 0.53% to 0.64%). Vitrinite values along the southern, western, and northwestern part of the minibasin range between 0.67% and 0.85%. Values of Ro immediately northwest of the diapir are the highest, reaching a maximum of 1.44%. The results are consistent with two different possibilities: (1) that the diapir plunges to the northwest, or (2) that a focused high-temperature heat flow existed along just the northwest margin of the diapir. If the plunging diapir interpretation is correct, then the thermally immature area south of the diapir was in a subsalt position, and the high-maturity area northwest of the diapir was in a suprasalt position prior to Tertiary uplift and erosion. If a presumed salt source at depth to the northwest of El Gordo also fed El Papalote diapir, which is located just to the north of El Gordo diapir, then the tabular halokinetic sequences that are found only along the east side of El Papalote may be subsalt features. However, if the diapir is subvertical and the high-maturity values northwest of the diapir are caused by prolonged, high-temperature fluid flow along just the northwestern margin of the diapir, then both of these scenarios are in disagreement with previously published numerical models. This disagreement arises because the models predict that thermal anomalies will extend outward from a diapir a distance roughly 1.5 times the radius of the diapir, but the results reported here show that the anomalous values on one side of the diapir are about two times the radius, whereas they are as much as five times the radius on the other side of the diapir. The results indicate that strata adjacent to salt margins may experience significantly different heat histories adjacent to different margins of diapirs that result in strikingly different diagenetic histories, even at the same depth.
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Sequence stratigraphy and coal cycles based on accommodation trends were investigated in the coal-bearing Lower Cretaceous Mannville Group in the Lloydminster heavy oil field, eastern Alberta. The study area is in a low accommodation setting on the cratonic margin of the Western Canada sedimentary basin. Geophysical log correlation of coal seams, shoreface facies, and the identification of incised valleys has produced a sequence-stratigraphic framework for petrographic data from 3 cored and 115 geophysical-logged wells. Maceral analysis, telovitrinite reflectance, and fluorescence measurements were taken from a total of 206 samples. Three terrestrial depositional environments were interpreted from the petrographic data: ombrotrophic mire coal, limnotelmatic mire coal, and carbonaceous shale horizons. Accommodation-based coal (wetting- and drying-upward) cycles represent trends in depositional environment shifts, and these cycles were used to investigate the development and preservation of the coal seams across the study area.

The low-accommodation strata are characterized by a high-frequency occurrence of significant surfaces, coal seam splitting, paleosol, and incised-valley development. Three sequence boundary unconformities are identified in only 20 m (66 ft) of strata. Coal cycle correlations illustrate that each coal seam in this study area was not produced by a single peat-accumulation episode but as an amalgamation of a series of depositional events. Complex relations between the Cummings and Lloydminster coal seams are caused by the lateral fragmentation of strata resulting from the removal of sediment by subaerial erosion or periods of nondeposition. Syndepositional faulting of the underlying basement rock changed local accommodation space and increased the complexity of the coal cycle development.

This study represents a low-accommodation example from a spectrum of stratigraphic studies that have been used to establish a terrestrial sequence-stratigraphic model. The frequency of changes in coal seam quality is an important control on methane distribution within coalbed methane reservoirs and resource calculations in coal mining. A depositional model based on the coal cycle correlations, as shown by this study, can provide coal quality prediction for coalbed methane exploration, reservoir completions, and coal mining.

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Thus far, the subject of deep-marine sands emplaced by baroclinic currents associated with internal waves and internal tides as potential reservoirs has remained an alien topic in petroleum exploration. Internal waves are gravity waves that oscillate along oceanic pycnoclines. Internal tides are internal waves with a tidal frequency. Internal solitary waves (i.e., solitons), the most common type, are commonly generated near the shelf edge (100–200 m [328–656 ft] in bathymetry) and in the deep ocean over areas of sea-floor irregularities, such as mid-ocean ridges, seamounts, and guyots. Empirical data from 51 locations in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Antarctic oceans reveal that internal solitary waves travel in packets. Internal waves commonly exhibit (1) higher wave amplitudes (5–50 m [16–164 ft]) than surface waves (lt2 m [6.56 ft]), (2) longer wavelengths (0.5–15 km [0.31–9 mi]) than surface waves (100 m [328 ft]), (3) longer wave periods (5–50 min) than surface waves (9–10 s), and (4) higher wave speeds (0.5–2 m s–1 [1.64–6.56 ft s–1]) than surface waves (25 cm s–1 [10 in. s–1]). Maximum speeds of 48 cm s–1 (19 in. s–1) for baroclinic currents were measured on guyots. However, core-based sedimentologic studies of modern sediments emplaced by baroclinic currents on continental slopes, in submarine canyons, and on submarine guyots are lacking. No cogent sedimentologic or seismic criteria exist for distinguishing ancient counterparts. Outcrop-based facies models of these deposits are untenable. Therefore, potential exists for misinterpreting deep-marine baroclinic sands as turbidites, contourites, basin-floor fans, and others. Economic risks associated with such misinterpretations could be real.
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Data derived from core and well-logs are essentially one-dimensional and determining eolian system type and likely dimensions and orientation of architectural elements present in subsurface eolian reservoir successions is typically not possible from direct observation alone. This is problematic because accurate predictions of the three-dimensional distribution of interdune and dune-plinth elements that commonly form relatively low-permeability baffles to flow, of net:gross, and of the likely distribution of elements with common porosity-permeability properties at a variety of scales in eolian reservoirs is crucial for effective reservoir characterization.

Direct measurement of a variety of parameters relating to aspects of the architecture of eolian elements preserved as ancient outcropping successions has enabled the establishment of a series of empirical relationships with which to make first-order predictions of a range of architectural parameters from subsurface successions that are not observable directly in core. In many preserved eolian dune successions, the distribution of primary lithofacies types tends to occur in a predictable manner for different types of dune sets, whereby the pattern of distribution of grain-flow, wind-ripple, and grain-fall strata can be related to set architecture, which itself can be related back to original bedform type.

Detailed characterization of individual eolian dune sets and relationships between neighboring dune and interdune elements has been undertaken through outcrop studies of the Permian Cedar Mesa Sandstone and the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone in southern Utah. The style of transition between lithofacies types seen vertically in preserved sets, and therefore measurable in analogous core intervals, enables predictions to be made regarding the relationship between preserved set thickness, individual grain-flow thickness, original bedform dimensional properties (e.g., wavelength and height), the likely proportion of the original bedform that is preserved to form a set, the angle of climb of the system, and the likely along-crest variability of facies distributions in sets generated by the migration of sinuous-crested bedforms. A series of graphical models depict common facies arrangements in bedsets for a suite of dune types and these demonstrate inherent facies variability.

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See Also: DL Abstract

Production from the Marcellus gas shale generated international interest when methane accumulated in the surface housing of a water well pump and exploded.

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