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

The McMurray Formation of northern Alberta in Canada contains multiscale complex geologic features that were partially formed in a fluvial-estuarine depositional environment. The inclined heterolithic strata deposited as part of fluvial point bars contain continuous centimeter-scale features that are important for flow characterization of steam-assisted gravity drainage processes. These channels are common, extensive, and imbricated over many square kilometers. Modeling the detailed facies in such depositional systems requires a methodology that reflects heterogeneity over many scales. This article presents an object-based facies modeling technique that (1) reproduces the geometry of multiscale geologic architectural elements seen in the McMurray Formation outcrops and (2) provides a grid-free framework that models these geologic objects without relating them to a grid system. The grid-free object-based modeling can be applied to any depositional environment and allows for the complete preservation of architectural information for consistent application to any gridding scheme, local grid refinements, downscaling, upscaling, drape surface, locally variable azimuths, property trend modeling, and flexible model interaction and manipulation. Features millimeters thick or kilometers in extent are represented very efficiently in the same model.
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The Tarim Basin is one of the most important hydrocabon-bearing evaporite basins in China. Four salt-bearing sequences, the Middle and Lower Cambrian, the Mississippian, the Paleogene, and the Neogene, have various thickness and areal distribution. They are important detachment layers and intensely affect the structural deformation in the basin. The Kuqa depression is a subordinate structural unit with abundant salt structures in the Tarim Basin. Salt overthrusts, salt pillows, salt anticlines, salt diapirs, and salt-withdrawal basins are predominant in the depression. Contraction that resulted from orogeny played a key function on the formation of salt structures. Growth strata reveal that intense salt structural deformation in the Kuqa depression occurred during the Himalayan movement from Oligocene to Holocene, with early structural deformation in the north and late deformation in the south. Growth sequences also record at least two phases of salt tectonism. In the Yingmaili, Tahe, and Tazhong areas, low-amplitude salt pillows are the most common salt structures, and these structures are commonly accompanied by thrust faults. The faulting and uplifting of basement blocks controlled the location of salt structures. The differences in the geometries of salt structures in different regions show that the thickness of the salt sequences has an important influence on the development of salt-cored detachment folds and related thrust faults in the Tarim Basin.

Salt sequences and salt structures in the Tarim Basin are closely linked to hydrocarbon accumulations. Oil and gas fields have been discovered in the subsalt, intrasalt, and suprasalt strata. Salt deformation has created numerous potential traps, and salt sequences have provided a good seal for the preservation of hydrocarbon accumulations. Large- and small-scale faults related with salt structures have also given favorable migration pathways for oil and gas. When interpreting seismic profiles, special attention needs to be paid to the clastic and carbonate interbeds within the salt sequences because they may lead to incorrect structural interpretation. In the Tarim Basin, the subsalt anticlinal traps are good targets for hydrocarbon exploration.

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Understanding the distribution and geometry of reservoir geobodies is crucial for net-to-gross estimates and to model subsurface flow. This article focuses on the process of dolomitization and resulting geometry of diagenetic geobodies in an outcrop of Jurassic host rocks from northern Oman. Field and petrographic data show that a first phase of stratabound dolomite is crosscut by a second phase of fault-related dolomite. The stratabound dolomite geobodies are laterally continuous for at least several hundreds of meters (sim1000 ft) and probably regionally and are one-half meter (1.6 ft) thick. Based on petrography and geochemistry, a process of seepage reflux of mesosaline or hypersaline fluids during the early stages of burial diagenesis is proposed for the formation of the stratabound dolomite. In contrast, the fault-related dolomite geobodies are trending along a fault that can be followed for at least 100 m (328 ft) and vary in width from a few tens of centimeters to as much as 10 m (sim1–33 ft). Petrography, geochemistry, and high homogenization temperature of fluid inclusions all point to the formation of the dolomite along a normal fault under deep burial conditions during the Middle to Late Cretaceous. The high 87Sr/86Sr ratio in the dolomite and the high salinity measured in fluid inclusions indicate that the dolomitizing fluids are deep basinal brines that interacted with crystalline basement. The dolomitization styles have an impact on the dimension, texture, and geochemistry of the different dolomite geobodies, and a modified classification scheme (compared to the one from Jung and Aigner, 2012) is proposed to incorporate diagenetic geobodies in future reservoir modeling.
Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/linking-process-dimension-texture-and-geochemistry.jpg?width=50&h=50&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=90amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 3772 Bulletin Article

Using diverse geologic and geophysical data from recent exploration and development, and experimental results of analysis of gas content, gas capacity, and gas composition, this article discusses how geologic, structural, and hydrological factors determine the heterogeneous distribution of gas in the Weibei coalbed methane (CBM) field.

The coal rank of the Pennsylvanian no. 5 coal seam is mainly low-volatile bituminous and semianthracite. The total gas content is 2.69 to 16.15 m3/t (95.00–570.33 scf/t), and gas saturation is 26.0% to 93.2%. Burial coalification followed by tectonically driven hydrothermal activity controls not only thermal maturity, but also the quality and quantity of thermogenic gas generated from the coal.

Gas composition indicates that the CBM is dry and of dominantly thermogenic origin. The thermogenic gases have been altered by fractionation that may be related to subsurface water movement in the southern part of the study area.

Three gas accumulation models are identified: (1) gas diffusion and long-distance migration of thermogenic gases to no-flow boundaries for sorption and minor conventional trapping, (2) hydrodynamic trapping of gas in structural lows, and (3) gas loss by hydrodynamic flushing. The first two models are applicable for the formation of two CBM enrichment areas in blocks B3 and B4, whereas the last model explains extremely low gas content and gas saturation in block B5. The variable gas content, saturation, and accumulation characteristics are mainly controlled by these gas accumulation models.

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See Also: DL Abstract

In his classic 1965 GSA Bulletin paper “Origin of ‘Reverse Drag’ on the Downthrown Side of Normal Faults” Hamblin presented a conceptual model linking the formation of reverse drag (the down-warping of hanging wall strata toward a normal fault) to slip on faults with listric (curved, concave up) cross-sectional profiles. Although this model has been widely accepted, some authors have noted that reverse drag may also form in response to slip on planar faults that terminate at depth. A universal explanation for the origin of reverse drag, a common element of extensional terranes, thus remains elusive almost 50 years after Hamblin’s seminal paper on the subject.

Desktop /Portals/0/images/_site/AAPG-newlogo-vertical-morepadding.jpg?width=50&h=50&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=90amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 10303 DL Abstract