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Search and Discovery Article

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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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Search and Discovery Article

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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American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Learn! Blog

Welcome to an interview with the Panton Data Science Team, who are working in drone-based projects where they are pushing the envelope with respect to applications and accuracy, thanks to a unique approach to data collection and analytics.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Africa Blog

Network, interact and share expertise with fellow petroleum scientists while learning the latest unconventional reservoir techniques and technologies.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Middle East Blog

Seven exciting GTWs in the Middle East Region in 2017!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Middle East Blog

You are invited to prepare a poster display for presentation for the workshops coming up this spring.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Explorer Historical Highlights

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)
Explorer Policy Watch

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)
Explorer Geophysical Corner

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)
Explorer Director’s Corner

This month, we will gather with fellow oil and gas professionals who share our values to focus on an essential piece of the oil and gas business: the deal.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Workshop
Lviv, Ukraine
Tuesday, 31 May – Wednesday, 1 June 2022, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Join us for a workshop where experts will  explore the Carpathian foreland and the Dnieper-Donetsk rift basins with a focus not only on hydrocarbons, but the utilization of geothermal resources, hydrogen exploration and CCUS.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Workshop
Netherlands
Tuesday, 5 April Wednesday, 6 April 2022, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Plan to attend Geothermal Crossover Technology workshop 4 on 5-6 April 2022. The workshop will offer an exciting knowledge sharing and discussion platform where industry experts, country representatives and academia can share their visions and perspectives on how the petroleum and geothermal industries can work together to create new opportunities to make geothermal energy exploration and production a reality.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

In comparison with the known boundary conditions that promote salt deformation and flow in sedimentary basins, the processes involved with the mobilization of clay-rich detrital sediments are far less well established. This talk will use seismic examples in different tectonic settings to document the variety of shale geometries that can be formed under brittle and ductile deformations.

Request a visit from Juan I. Soto!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

The carbonate sequences that were deposited in the now exhumed Tethyan Ocean influence many aspects of our lives today, either by supplying the energy that warms our homes and the fuel that powers our cars or providing the stunning landscapes for both winter and summer vacations. They also represent some of the most intensely studied rock formations in the world and have provided geoscientists with a fascinating insight into the turbulent nature of 250 Million years of Earth’s history. By combining studies from the full range of geoscience disciplines this presentation will trace the development of these carbonate sequences from their initial formation on the margins of large ancient continental masses to their present day locations in and around the Greater Mediterranean and Near East region. The first order control on growth patterns and carbonate platform development by the regional plate-tectonic setting, underlying basin architecture and fluctuations in sea level will be illustrated. The organisms that contribute to sequence development will be revealed to be treasure troves of forensic information. Finally, these rock sequences will be shown to contain all the ingredients necessary to form and retain hydrocarbons and the manner in which major post-depositional tectonic events led to the formation of some of the largest hydrocarbon accumulations in the world will be demonstrated.

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Request a visit from Keith Gerdes!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

This lecture will discuss the differences between carbonates and siliciclastics from their chemical composition through their distributions in time and space. Building on these fundamental differences, we will explore the challenges carbonates pose to petroleum geologists in terms of seismic interpretation, reservoir quality prediction, field development, etc. Peppered with humorous personal stories, still raging academic debates, and the heartfelt frustrations of real industry professionals, the aim is to inspire students and young professionals to rise to the occasion and embrace the reservoir rocks that petroleum geologists love to hate.

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Request a visit from Noelle Joy Purcell!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

This is a less-technical education topic. It can be condensed to an hour or given as 2 two-hour sessions. It stresses selected controversial aspects of fracking that touch some combination of environment and economics and includes a short video of how fracking is done.

Request a visit from David Weinberg!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

The following short course option was developed for geology and geophysics students that have not had much exposure to how geoscience is applied in industry. It can be tailored for undergraduate juniors and seniors or graduate students. The agenda can be modified to meet specific needs and time constraints. Contact the presenter to discuss options.

Request a visit from Fred Schroeder!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

Analysis of microseismicity induced by hydraulic fracture stimulation in the Marcellus Shale shows changes in stress state for different zones of failure. During the treatment, shear failure occurs on both the J1 and J2 fracture orientations in response to different maximum stress orientations, indicating localized changes in the orientation during the treatment. Reactivation of a fault near the wellbore is associated with failure mechanisms with a higher volumetric component, indicating possible inflation of faults and fractures by the introduction of the slurry. Quantification of the stress conditions that are associated with inflation could potentially be used to optimize the stimulation by identifying which fractures will preferentially take on slurry volume.

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Request a visit from Sherilyn Williams-Stroud!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

Hydraulic fracturing has been around for decades. This talk describes some of the first applications of the technology, how it developed over time, and our current understanding of its impacts with some discussion of both water and earthquake hazards.

Request a visit from Sherilyn Williams-Stroud!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

Microseismicity induced by hydraulic fracture stimulation of a horizontal well was mapped with a near-surface buried array. Distinct linear trends of events were not parallel to the direction of fast shear wave polarization measured in the reservoir with a crossed-dipole anisotropy tool. Analysis of core from a nearby well revealed numerous calcite-filled fractures that did not induce shear wave polarization, but did significantly impact the failure behavior of the reservoir rock during the stimulation treatment. Hydraulic fracture simulation with DFN modeling and source mechanism analysis supports the interpretation of reactivated existing fractures rather than the formation of hydraulically-induced tensile fractures.

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Request a visit from Sherilyn Williams-Stroud!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

In 1991, Gulf Indonesia and its partners discovered South Sumatra Basin’s first major gas field at Dayung in the Corridor PSC. A key feature of this field is that most of the reserves are held within fractured basement rocks of pre-Tertiary age. 

Request a visit from Charles Caughey!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
VG Abstract

The Betic hinterland, in the westernmost Mediterranean, constitutes a unique example of a stack of metamorphic units. Using a three-dimensional model for the crustal structure of the Betics-Rif area this talk will address the role of crustal flow simultaneously to upper-crustal low-angle faulting in the origin and evolution of the topography.

Request a visit from Juan I. Soto!

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

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