A Joint AAPG / University at Buffalo field seminar

Utica, Marcellus And Black Shales In The Northern Appalachian Basin

Monday, 15 June, 8:00 a.m. – Friday, 19 June 2015, 5:00 p.m.
Watkins Glen, New York, United States


Who Should Attend
Oil/gas and environmental geoscientists who wish to learn about fracturing, faulting, and tectonics in the northern Appalachian Basin (including black shales). A BS in geology/geophysics is recommended, and a geology/geophysics MS is helpful, as is experience in the geosciences world.

The attendee will gain a working knowledge concerning:

  • how faults and fractures develop and their terminology;
  • methodologies utilized in collecting and analyzing fracture data;
  • characteristics of faults and fractures that affect the sedimentary units (including black shales) in the northern Appalachian Basin of NYS;
  • tectonics that led to the formation of the structures in the northern Appalachian Basin and the adjacent Appalachian Orogen.
Course Content

The course plan is a lecture in the morning, followed by field work in the afternoon that illustrates the elements of the morning lecture. The attendees will observe fracture and fault examples and collect fracture data to analyze. Longer field trips examine faults and fractures in the Utica, fractures in the Marcellus and a complete section of highly fractured Geneseo. This schedule is dependent upon the weather.

The course lectures are organized around three core areas:

  1. Faults and their effects on shales in the Northern Appalachian Basin.
  2. The development and characteristics of fractures in sedimentary section of the Northern Appalachian Basin, including black shales.
  3. Tectonic context of the faults and fractures in the northern Appalachian Orogen.

For Part 1 the attendee will learn the evidence for, and characteristics/motion histories of, faults in the Appalachian Basin of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

In Part 2, the attendee learns details about stress and fracture development, faults and rock strength, rock failure types, fracture decorations, fluid/gas driven fracturing, fracture spacing, Fracture Intensification Domains, fracture intersections, and other fracture aspects.

For Part 3 the attendee will the connections among plate tectonics, faults/fractures and the development of the northern Appalachian Basin and selected reservoirs. The attendees will also learn information that promoted the advancement of Phanerozoic plate tectonic models of the Appalachian Orogen. Detailed examination of faults and fractures will be conducted in such black shale units as the Utica, Geneseo and Marcellus. Field trips will demonstrate in gray and black shales faults and fracture spacing, intersections, and decorations. These trips will also establish methodologies for characterizing and analyzing fractures.

The course is located in the center of the Finger Lakes Wine Region, one of the most beautiful areas in the country, and is a natural laboratory that has been central to many of the advances in fracture understanding.

Field Seminar Location
Professor Robert Jacobi Telephone: 716 207 2478 (cell)
Email: Robert Jacobi

Mailing address: Geology Department
411 Cooke Hall
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260

JUNE 15-JUNE 19, 2015
Watkins Glen, NY


A 12-passenger van will provide transportation for the field excursions during the course. This van will pick up course participants at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport at 3:00, Sunday, June 14. Arrival back in Buffalo at the end of the field seminar is planned for 6:30 PM Friday night (June 19).

(Tentative, due to variable weather conditions)

DAY ZERO—arrive at Watkins Glen Sunday night, June 14.

DAY ONE (June 15, Monday)
LECTURE, Keuka Room in the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

    1. Iapetan Opening and the T/BR and Alleghanian Folds
    2. Cambro-Ordovician Plate Tectonics (e.g., Taconic Collision) and Little Falls/T/Br in the Mohawk Valley, NYS.
    3. Salinic Fault Control of Basin Development
    4. Acadian, Alleghanian, and Recent Fault Activity and Basin Deposition and Deformation Controls
    1. Integrated Traditional and Innovative Geological Techniques: Test Case for Recognition of the Clarendon-Linden Fault System
    2. Implication of CLF for Depositional Facies
    3. Recognition of Other Fault Systems in NYS
    4. Trenton-Black River Fault Systems (guided by reactivated Iapetan-opening fault systems)
    5. Acadian/Alleghanian Fault Systems in the northern part of the Appalachian Basin
    6. Lineaments—Aeromagnetics, Topography, Satellite Imagery (optional)
    7. CAI—Heat Flow and Faults (optional)
    8. Lake Ontario and Recent Fault Activity (optional)

DAY TWO (June 16, Tuesday)

    1. Thruway Unconformity and exposed Taconic Little Falls faults in the black shale of the Ordovician Utica (Indian Castle) and the ribbon carbonates of the Dolgeville at Little Falls, NY
    2. Lunch stop at Subway in Little Falls
    3. Dolgeville Fault and mineralization along the fault (Indian Castle, Dolgeville, and Cambrian Little Falls carbonate) at Dolgeville, NY
    4. Marcellus deformation in the Union Springs black shale and Cherry Valley carbonate at Cherry Valley, NY

DAY THREE (June 17, Wednesday)
LECTURE (MORNING), Keuka Room in the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

      1. Why Fractures are Important?
      2. Why/How Do Fractures Form?
        1. Stress Review
        2. Mohr Stress Circle
        3. Fracture Development
        4. Stress, Faults and Rock Strength
        5. Rock Failure Types (e.g., parabolic fracture envelope)
      1. Failure Envelopes 
      2. Conjugate Shear Set
      3. Fault types
      4. Map patterns of fault segments
      5. Releasing Bends and Restraining Bends
      6. Riedel Shears
      7. Examples
    1. Fracture Decorations
    2. Fluid/gas Driven Fracturing



FRACTURE EXAMPLES—Classic fracture decorations and intersections at Watkins Glen, including plumose structures, fractures developed in an inferred rotating stress field, abutting relationships, a possible gas chimney and a FID/fault zone

DAY FOUR (June 18, Thursday)
LECTURE (MORNING), Keuka Room in the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

    1. How Do We Pick Fracture Sets?
    2. Fracture Spacing
      1. Layer thickness vs. spacing
      2. Fracture Intensification Domains
    3. Fracture Intersections
      1. Examples of various types
      2. Significance of types from modeling
    4. How to Display Fractures
      1. Stereonets
      2. Rose diagrams
      3. Stick diagrams
    5. Upper Devonian Black Shale (Marcellus and Geneseo) Fracture Considerations
      1. Introduction to Upper Devonian black shale characteristics
      2. Fracture frequency
        1. Decreasing fracture frequency upsection (lower TOC)
        2. High fracture frequency related to faults (FIDs)
      3. Fracture orientations
        1. J1, J2 and Set II local and regional variations
      4. Fracture abutting relationships and development of the basin and fractures
      5. Fault deformation
        1. Outcrop examples
        2. Seismic and well log examples
        3. FMI examples

FRACTURE EXAMPLES— More classic fracture sets and intersections at Taughannock Falls, including FIDs and intrusions along the FIDs, and fractures that imply a rotating stress field.
Learn how to collect fracture data via scanline, scangrid, and "abbreviated method."

DAY FIVE (June 19, Friday)
LECTURE (MORNING), Keuka Room in the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

    1. Ordovician Utica Black Shale Considerations
      1. Introduction to Utica black shale characteristics
      2. Fracture orientations
      3. Fracture abutting relationships and development of the basin and fractures
      4. Fault effects
        1. Outcrop examples
        2. Seismic and well log examples
        3. FMI examples
    2. Selected Fracture Papers in the Appalachian Basin (optional)

Walk upsection through the entire Upper Devonian Geneseo black shale at Lodi, NY, observing upsection consistency in J1 and variations in other fracture sets.  Observe J1 fractures in the Marcellus at Marcellus, NY.

LOGISTICS ON DAY FIVE: We will depart Watkins Glen at 4 PM, and plan to arrive at the Buffalo airport at 6:30 PM.

Expires on
17 May, 2015
Early Tuition
Expires on
19 June, 2015
Regular Tuition
15 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 course notes and field guide, and transportation during field trips. Does not include hotels or meals. No refunds for cancellations after 5/18/2015.


Robert Robert Jacobi Professor, University at Buffalo, NY
Stephanie Stephanie Brown Assistant Registrar 918-560-2930 918-560-2678
Debbi Debbi Boonstra Education Manager +1 918 560-2630

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