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The geometry and growth of normal faults are fundamental to the evolution and petroleum prospectivity of sedimentary basins, controlling trap development; source, reservoir, and seal rock distribution; and fluid flow. The poorly studied, petroliferous Ceduna Subbasin located offshore southern Australia contains an east–southeast-striking, gravity-driven fault array, which soles out onto a southwest-dipping detachment horizon.
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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The northeastern Brooks Range of northern Alaska is an active, north-directed fold-and-thrust belt that is advancing on the Barrow arch and the north-facing passive margin of the Arctic Basin. Density logs, leak-off tests, and mud-weight profiles from 57 wells from the northeastern North Slope were used to determine the magnitude of the present-day in situ stresses and document significant regional lateral and vertical variations in relative stress magnitude.
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The vast majority of discovered oils in the Bohai offshore area have undergone biodegradation ranging from 1 to 9 on the PM scale (a scale to rank the level of biodegradation, proposed by Peters and Moldowan, 1993). The extent of distribution and biodegradation of all discovered oils in the Bohai offshore area was investigated systematically using geologic and geochemical data to reveal controlling factors of varying levels of biodegraded oils.
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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The type section of the Oligocene to lower Miocene Maikop Group, considered the main source rock in the eastern Paratethys, has been studied using geochemical proxies to gain insights into depositional setting and hydrocarbon potential. The Maikop Group at the type section is approximately 600 m (2000 ft) thick.
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Recent studies have shown that the loss of primary pores and the development of secondary pores in mudrocks are primarily controlled by burial diagenesis of the mineral matrix and thermal maturation of organic matter (OM). However, the lack of quantitative data on nanometer- to micrometer-scale rock properties has limited the ability to define and predict petrophysical properties and fluid flow in these fine-grained rocks.
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Longtime AAPG Foundation supporter and leader Frank Harrison Jr., a founder of the group’s highly successful Trustee Associates, is this year’s recipient of the AAPG Foundation Chairman’s Award.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Despite the fact that we’re still a couple months out from the 100th Anniversary AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE) in Houston, it’s never too early to start planning your meeting itinerary.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Wildfires might be what come to mind when most people think of northeastern Alberta, owing to recent news coverage of the record evacuation of about 88,000 people from the Fort McMurray area. Current events notwithstanding, however, northeastern Alberta is historically best known for its huge bitumen resources.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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It was a hard-fought and divisive political season – one that has raised anxiety levels both in the United States and abroad. It is now up to the new president and the Republican-controlled 115th Congress to get to work.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Seismic discontinuity attributes such as coherence and curvature are routinely applied to 3-D seismic data volumes to delineate faults or fractures, channel and reef edges, and other geological features.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Recently Added Special Publications
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This volume covers the linkage between new transform margin research and increasing transform margin exploration. It offers a critical set of predictive tools via an understanding of the mechanisms involved in the development of play concept elements at transform margins.
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Originally published in 1991, this memoir offers a unique, detailed analysis on solving one of petroleum geology's most perplexing problems -- reservoir prediction.
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A joint publication of the AAPG and SEG, the product offers 30 profusely illustrated case studies from around the world demonstrating practical applications of 3-dimensional seismic data. It includes detailed illustrations in color and black and white, and covers fluvial-deltaic, eolian, deep-water clastic, carbonate, and structural reservoirs. Special emphasis is placed on the application of 3-D data to development drilling, reservoir characterization, and reservoir management. This atlas is designed to confirm 3-D seismic interpretation in drilling and production.
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Divided into two parts with 14 chapters and 5 appendices, the data presented in this volume allows faults to be mapped and correlated with more confidence than before, basin evolution to be examined over a long time period, and some relationships between tectonics and sedimentation to be studied.
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Interpretations of thermal maturation provide critical data needed for both conventional and unconventional resource assessments. The absence of true vitrinite in pre-Devonian sediments eliminates one of the most commonly measured geothermometers used for thermal maturity determination. Programmed pyrolysis parameters like Tmax can be of limited utility given the maturity regime. However, other organic macerals are potentially available to constrain thermal maturity. The current organic petrology study has been undertaken to provide a very detailed comparison of reflectance measurements on pyrobitumens, “vitrinite-like” material and graptolites. 

In the Appalachian Basin of North America, Cambrian-aged source rocks were deposited in shallow water mixed carbonate-siliciclastic depositional environments. Solid pyrobitumen material is found to occur in both lenticular lens/layer morphology as well as distinct pore-filling angular varieties. Published formulas to calculate Equivalent Reflectance (Eq. Ro) from solid bitumens have been applied to these discrete morphological populations. In addition, a newly developed formula to calculate Eq. Ro from angular pyrobitumen (VRc=0.866*BRo ang + 0.0274) is introduced based upon statistical evaluation of reflectance readings from a global dataset. “Vitrinite-like” organic macerals were found in rare abundance within these potential source rocks, but their occurrence enables an independent comparison to pyrobitumen Eq. Ro values. Graptolites are another organic maceral that can be evaluated via organic petrology, but caution should be utilized since these tend to show a high degree of anisotropy. The results of this investigation provide additional geochemical guidance to assist geologists in more accurately interpreting thermal maturity in the Rome Trough region of the Appalachian Basin.

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Rock-Eval hydrogen index (HI) is often used to compare relative maturities of a source horizon across a basin. Usually, there are several measurements from the source horizon at a single well, and the mean hydrogen index is calculated, or the S2 is plotted against TOC. The slope of the best fit line through that data is used as the representative HI for that well (sometimes referred to as the ‘slope HI ’ methodology). There is a potential flaw in both these methodologies; however, that renders the calculated HI as misleading if the source horizon being examined is not relatively uniform in source quality, vertically in the stratigraphic column. From a geologic perspective, it would be unusual for the source rock quality not to vary vertically in the stratigraphic column. Organic matter input, preservation, dilution, and sediment accumulation rate typically vary in many depositional environments over the millions of years required to create a thick source rock package. Nevertheless, there are source rocks which do display remarkable source-quality uniformity from top to bottom of the stratigraphic package. We have examined source rocks from several basins where the source quality is relatively uniform over the stratigraphic column, and source rocks where the source quality varies greatly over the stratigraphic column. Methodologies to assess hydrogen index at specific wells for the se two scenarios differ. Most geoscientists may not be familiar with why a single technique is not suitable for both these scenarios, or how to correctly use hydrogen index as a relative maturation proxy in the case where source rock quality is not uniform. We will demonstrate how to determine if your source rock quality is uniform or varied relative to HI over the stratigraphic column, and how to assign a hydrogen index to the different source facies when that source rock quality is not uniform. Further we will illustrate how to estimate the original hydrogen index of the different source facies and assign each a transformation ratio. The transformation ratio is a better proxy for relative maturity, since different source facies may have different present-day hydrogen indices, but their present-day transformation ratio should be quite similar.

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The assessment of the natural temporal variability of source rock units is critical for the understanding of petroleum systems as changes in mineral matrix, organic matter (OM) concentration, and composition can significantly affect expulsion efficiency, primary and secondary migration processes, hydrocarbon quality as well as oil source rock correlation. Already small-scaled fluctuations within sediment successions can critically influence migration efficiency. High-resolution investigation of a well-preserved Lower Jurassic drill core (Toarcian Posidonia Shale) revealed seven discrete and systematic intervals of deviating source rock quality. These were composed of homogenized, non-laminated marls of light grey color, opposed to laminated dark grey background sedimentation. Both lithotypes differentiate not only in mineral composition, but particularly in OM content and quality. An average TOC content of app. 3.9 wt.% reached by the grey marl, is faced by an average TOC content of app. 7.8 wt.% measured for the laminated dark grey marls. Average hydrogen index for grey non-laminated marls was app. 550 mg HC/g TOC, whereas much higher source rock quality with 780 mg HC/g TOC was attained in the dark laminated marls. The marls lower OM concentration and inferior OM quality generates important domains for preferential migration of products, originated from the dark grey layers, or hydrocarbon cluster in case of limited migration into adjacent reservoirs. To assess the potential for preferential intake of hydrocarbons by the coarser-grained light marls and their qualification as migration avenues, artificial maturation experiments were performed with both lithotypes. Hydrocarbon generation was simulated by hydrous pyrolysis in two successive temperature steps 330 °C and 360 °C, covering an early maturity stage, as well as the end of the oil window. Both lithologies show striking differences, not only for the extract yield, but also for the timing of generation. OM quality differences were reflected by variable n-alkane distributions and molecular maturity parameters. High-resolution continuous data produced by non-destructive techniques allows to draw conclusions on i) source rock potential, ii) expulsion and migration processes , and iii) on prediction of petroleum accumulation within the sediment succession. High-resolution investigation in combination with artificial maturation experiments represent an easy-to-use tool in petroleum system analysis.

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The San Joaquin Basin lies west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and east of the San Andre as Fault. Tens of kilometers of Mesozoic and Cenozoic sediments, including deep-water organic-rich source rocks, deposited in a forearc setting, comprise the basin and have contributed to a petroleum system that generates more than 70 percent of California 's daily oil production and includes three of the 10 largest oilfields in the United States. Based on a comprehensive 3D petroleum systems model of the San Joaquin basin, published by the USGS in 2008, we further refine the modeling to account for the unique depositional and tectonic history of the basin. Here, we compare various basal heat flow scenarios to model hydrocarbon generation and calibrate the results to available temperature and vitrinite reflectance (Vr) data. We investigate two types of crustal models: a McKenzie-type rift model, and a no-rift static crustal thickness model. Crustal stretching models calculate basal heat flow resulting from stretching/thinning of mantle and crust during initial (syn-rift) and thermal (post-rift) subsidence. This method uses rock matrix radiogenic heat production values. It does not account for transient effects resulting from burial and uplift of the basin fill. The static no-rift model, alternatively, calculates the basal heat flow based on a stable or non-thinning crust and mantle over time. This method uses estimated Uranium (U), Thorium (Th), and Potassium (K) concentrations within the rock material to then calculate the rock matrix heat production. Unlike the rift model, it accounts for the transient effects resulting from burial and uplift of the basin fill, which can have a considerable additional effect on the basal heat flow. Given the low probability of crustal stretching as the starting point for basal heat flow in the San Joaquin Basin and considering the forearc nature of the basin as well as the strong concentration of U, K, and Th in the Sierran granites, we focused on and refined the no-rift models. We manually account for the transitional nature of the San Joaquin basement from hot Sierran granite on the east to cool Franciscan oceanic rocks on the west. Radiogenic heat production from solely continental crust results in models that are too warm and cannot be calibrated to well temperature and Vr data. Solely oceanic models are too cool to match well data. ‘Combined crust’ incorporates a seismically derived suture zone that allows for a transition from oceanic to granitic basement, while the ‘intermediate crust’ mixes oceanic and continental radiogenic heat production. These models generate a good match to well data to the east and westward through the transition zone. Additionally, we are able to calibrate to wells off of the Belridge and Lost Hills structures. On structure wells, however, cannot be calibrated with a crustal conductive heat flow scenario and would require (local) elevated heat flows on the order of 20 mW/m 2. This is not in agreement with the generally cooler underlying oceanic crust and suggests that there might be a different and/or additional source of heat flow. Most likely, basin-scale hydrothermal groundwater flow, both along faults and up-structure, could account for elevated Vr and temperature. Convective heat flow would be an additional overprint or enhancement to conductive basal heat flow.

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The driving forces for conventional accumulations (structural or stratigraphic traps) are Forces of Buoyancy which are due to differences in densities of hydrocarbons and water. In contrast, the driving forces for unconventional tight accumulations are Forces of Expulsion which are produced by high pressures. That is an enormous difference and creates unconventional petroleum systems that are characterized by very different and distinctive characteristics. The Force of Expulsion pressures are created by the significant increase in volume when any of the three main kerogen types are converted to hydrocarbons. At those conversion times in the burial history, the rocks are already sufficiently tight so the large volumes of generated hydrocarbons cannot efficiently escape through the existing tight pore system, thus creating a permeability bottleneck that produces an overpressured compartment over a large area corresponding to the proper thermal oil and gas maturities for that basin. The forces initially created in these source rocks can only go limited distances into adjacent tight reservoirs (clastics or carbonates) above or below the source. The exact distance will vary depending on the pressure increase, matrix permeability, and fractures of that specific tight reservoir system. In general, the distances are small, in the orders of 10s to 100s of feet for oil and larger for more mobile gas systems. Those exact distance numbers are subject to ongoing investigations.  

A plot of the pressure data versus elevation for a given formation is critical in determining whether an accumulation is conventional or unconventional. Conventional accumulations will have hydrocarbon columns of 10s to 100s of feet with the pressure in the hydrocarbons and that in the water equal at the bottom of the accumulation (at the HC-water contact). In contrast, the unconventional accumulations will show HC column heights of 1000s of feet with the pressure in the hydrocarbon phase and the water phase being the same at the top of the accumulation (at the updip transition zone). Those significant differences are critical for understanding and differentiating these two play types. Because the system is a pore throat bottleneck with very little or minimum lateral migration, the type of hydrocarbon s are closely tied to the thermal maturity required to generate those hydrocarbons. Thus the play concept begins with two important geochemical considerations: (1) where are the source rocks and what are the kerogen types and organic richness (TOC), and (2 ) where are they mature in the basin for oil, condensate, and gas in the basin. These parameters will very quickly define the fairway for the play. Then one has to add the critical information on the reservoirs themselves: composition (brittleness), thickness, and reservoir quality (matrix porosity and permeability). In summary, these tight unconventional petroleum systems (1) are dynamic , and (2) create a regionally inverted petroleum system with water over oil over condensate over gas for source rocks wit h Type I or II kerogen types.

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It's not easy, but I'm going to tackle the question of "What happened to the Great Crew Change, and where are the geologists?"

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Volunteering for the General Store is an easy, fun way to earn funds while attending ACE 2017.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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We need your help! Tell us who you think deserves a top professorial honor for outstanding leadership and inspiring the future of geoscience.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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Secure your sponsorships now for ACE 2017 and choose the mix of items, events and activities that align with the specific marketing goals of your business.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
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EMD is sponsoring a special forum with DEG titled: "The Next 100 Years of Global Energy Use: Resources, Impacts and Economics", as part of the AAPG Annual Meeting in Houston. The forum will be held on April 4, from 1:15 to 5:05 pm at the George R. Brown Convention Center. This special AAPG 100th Anniversary event is open to the public free of charge. The invited speakers are world renowned experts with diverse backgrounds that will provide a critical review and assessment of global energy use during the next century.

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