Uinta Basin Photomicrograph. Photo by Michael Vanden Berg.
Photomicrograph of limestone from the Eocene-age Green River Formation showing small ostracod shells surrounding and filling larger
By: Steven Schamel
The Green River Formation in the Uinta Basin has may characteristics typical of an ideal shale oil resource play. It is a world-class oil-prone source rock. In nearly all parts of the basin there are many thousands of net feet of Type-l and Type-ll kerogen-rich calcareous mudstones, many intervals of which have average total organic carbon (TOC) of 5-10% or greater. In the north-central and western parts of the basin a substantial part of the formation is in the oil-generative window. Furthermore, organic maturation simulations done in this study using PRA BasinView-3D™ indicates early entry into the oil-generative window. In the northwest parts of the basin the lower Green River Formation was generating oil even before the end of the Eocene and slowing of sediment accumulation in the basin. The Green River Formation is unquestionably a superb petroleum system responsible for very large cumulative production of oil and associated natural gas, and an even larger potential oil sand resource. This DVD contains a 65-page report.
The exceedingly rare Graham’s penstemon grows exclusively on the sparsely vegetated outcrops of Green River Formation oil shale deposits and can be found only in the Uinta Basin of Utah and the Piceance Creek Basin in Colorado. Federal protection for this scarce plant could be forthcoming as petroleum development becomes more prevalent in the basin.
A sandstone layer within the Eocene-aged Uinta Formation forms a surreal landscape at Fantasy Canyon. Sandwiched between more easily erodible layers of claystone and mudstone, the exposed sandstone has weathered into an intricate rock garden containing over twenty named sculptures, including “Alien Head” in the foreground.
An Estonia company that claims it has perfected turning oil shale into fuel oil during the past 30 years wants to mine rock from a remote region of the Uintah Basin, tapping 2.6 billion barrels of oil in the decades to come.
That staggering production, 50,000 barrels of oil per day, would represent one-third of Utah’s liquid fuel consumption and is touted to emerge from a processing and refining plant that would put power back into the energy grid.
Geologic intervals that may have looked a bit ho-hum when pierced by the drill bit on its way to the Real Target can, on second look, yield some pleasant surprises.
The Uteland Butte Member of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Uinta Basin in Utah is one of these.
It’s the basal member of the Green River, above the Upper Paleocene to Lower Eocene Wasatch Formation, which is predominantly a sandstone with red, green and gray shales deposited in a fluvial setting.
In contrast, the Uteland Butte is indicative of a lacustrine environment and is mainly limestone, dolomite, organic rich calcareous mudstone and siltstone, with some thin sandstones, according to AAPG member Michael Vanden Berg.
Core Workshop: Microbial Carbonate Reservoirs from Utah
Field Trip: Modern and Ancient Microbial Carbonates in Utah—Examples from Great Salt Lake and the Uinta Basin’s Tertiary (Eocene) Green River Formation
To register for either the short course, field trip, or both, go online at: RMSAAPG2013.COM and look for short course #4 and field trip #5.
Details are listed below:
Short Course #4: Microbial Carbonate Reservoirs from Utah – Core Workshop
Date: Wednesday, September 25, 8:00 A.M. – 4:30 P.M. at the Utah Geological Survey’s Core Research Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
Instructors: David E. Eby, Eby Petrography & Consulting, Inc.; Thomas C. Chidsey, Jr., Utah Geological Survey; Michael D. Vanden Berg, Utah Geological Survey
Fee: $200 for professionals, $100 for students (includes lunch, refreshments, and course notes)
Limit: 30 professionals, 5 students
Post-Convention Field Trip #5: Modern and Ancient Microbial Carbonates in Utah: Examples from Great Salt Lake and the Uinta Basin’s Tertiary (Eocene) Green River Formation
Date: Thursday, September 26 – Saturday, September 28
Leaders: David E. Eby (Eby Petrography & Consulting, Inc.), Thomas C. Chidsey, Jr. (Utah Geological Survey), Michael D. Vanden Berg, Utah Geological Survey
Itinerary: Departs from the Hilton in Salt Lake City, Utah, at 8:00 A.M. on Thursday, September 26, and returns to the same venue or the Salt Lake International Airport by approximately 11:00 A.M., Saturday, September 28
Fee: $700 per person. Includes transportation, lunches, refreshments, two nights lodging (double occupancy), and field guide.
Limit: 24 persons