Many textbooks cover numerous geologic subjects; however, since Margaret S. Bishop’s classic textbook (1960), and the first edition of this textbook, no complete and detailed book on the subject of subsurface mapping and structural methods has been published.
Subsurface geological maps are the most important and widely used vehicle to explore for and develop hydrocarbon reserves. Geologists, geophysicists, and engineers are expected to understand the many aspects of subsurface mapping and to be capable of preparing accurate subsurface maps. Yet, the subject of subsurface mapping is probably the least taught of all petroleum-related subjects. Many colleges and universities do not teach applied subsurface mapping courses, and over the past decade, many company-sponsored training programs have been curtailed or eliminated.
In this early part of the new millennium, we must become more aware of our limitations. This involves questioning our methods and thinking more about our interpretation techniques. We need to consider the tools we have at our disposal to support our interpretations and to generate a better-quality product. Inaccurate procedures, unjustified shortcuts, and limited mapping and structural skills will result in a poor product. During the past decade, the petroleum industry has experienced sweeping changes; new technologies have emerged requiring new skills.
In today’s petroleum exploration and development activities, a geoscientist spends a great deal of his or her time in front of a workstation or computer correlating, interpreting, and mapping with the ultimate goal of generating viable interpretations resulting in economic prospects. The computers provide increased speed and efficiency in nearly every aspect of exploration and development. However, problems have developed with the computer-based activities. What we often see today is the computers, not the interpreters, driving interpretations and maps, with blind acceptance of the results. Too often, this procedure results in contour maps that violate geological principles, interpretations that are unlikely in three dimensions, and prospects that depict subsurface geology and geometry that are outright impossible.
We cannot accept computers driving interpretations, nor can we blindly accept the resultant maps (Tearpock and Brenneke 2001a, 2001b). In the hands of geoscientists properly educated in the basics and fundamentals of geology, including field experience, workstations and personal computers are powerful tools. This text contains many of the techniques and methods required to generate sound geologic interpretations and prospects. It can help you become a more productive and successful geoscientist or engineer.
It has been estimated that 30% or more of future reserve additions will be found in areas that are maturely developed. These reserves will come from redeveloping older oil and gas fields. This future potential is to be found in proved producing reservoirs, reservoirs with proved reserves behind pipe, various types of accumulations (attic, infill, and untested fault blocks), and wildcatting in and around the fields and in deeper stratigraphic sections than the current limit within the area.
The techniques presented in this book, from correctly mapping well data to structural balancing, are ideally suited for both exploration and development activities but especially valuable when conducting detailed geoscience projects involving the development or redevelopment of a mature area.
We have expanded this third edition to include new methods or techniques developed during the last 10 years, the understanding and applications of computer-based log correlation, cross section construction, and 3D seismic interpretation within several productive shale basins. Also stressed are new approaches for horizonal drilling and mapping techniques. We have organized a wealth of information that exists in the literature, in addition to material that has never been published. This third edition builds on the new advances and our experience in petroleum exploration and exploitation, as well as our extensive experience in teaching subsurface exploration and development mapping and structural geology courses to geologists, geophysicists, and engineers in the energy industry (worldwide) and at the college and university level.
We present a variety of subsurface mapping and structural techniques applicable in the four major petroleum-related tectonic settings: extensional, compressional, strike-slip, and diapiric. The detailed techniques presented throughout the book are intended to expand your knowledge and improve your skills in preparing geologic interpretations. The knowledge of the principles and techniques presented, plus a burning desire to explore the unknown, will ensure your success.
This textbook is specifically designed for geologists, geophysicists, and engineers who prepare subsurface geological interpretations with accompanying maps. This book should also be beneficial to supervisors, managers, technical assistants, investors, and other persons who have a requirement for the use, preparation, or evaluation of subsurface interpretations and maps.
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Good luck and good prospecting.
Daniel J. Tearpock
Richard E. Bischke
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