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Fundamentals of Petroleum Geology

Physical Geology

Chapter 5

Fundamentals of Petroleum Geology


The initial step in acquiring a board understanding of the drilling technologies is
the development of some basic understanding of petroleum geology. To
understand some of the engineering requirements in oil field drilling operations
requires a comprehension of the nature of the formation to be drilled.
Historically, geological studies have been concentrated in the area of the
utilization of geological data as a means of locating formations having economic
value.
The following discussion is intended to provide the geological background needed
for sound well planning and engineering.
Specifically, this discussion will include information concerning the theory of the
origin of subsurface formation, composition of formation, formation structural
differences and rock mechanics. Simply stated, the intent of this section is to
answer some of the basic questions concerning the nature of the formation being
drilled, such as: How were rocks formed? What are they made of? How are they
structured? How do rocks behave when a hole is drilled in them?

5.1 Physical Geology


Relatively few of the problems of geology are so simple that they can be solved by
one method of approach. Many geologic problems require supplementary
investigation using the methods, data, and theories of chemistry, biology, physics
and engineering. In turn, geology has contributed data and ideas to these
bordering sciences. In the natural sciences, progress in one advances all the
others.
Physical geology is concerned with the physical processes that operate on and
within the Earth - the processes that have given the rocks of the Earths crust their
composition and structure, and the forces that have shaped its surface. Many
separate sciences contribute to the broad field of physical geology. Among the
more important are: mineralogy, the science of minerals; petrology, the science of
rocks; structural geology, the science which seeks to interpret the structures seen
in the rocks; and geomorphology, the science which deals with the origin of
landscapes.
Also closely associated with physical geology is historical geology, the science
that traces the evolution and development of the Earth and its plants and animals.
This science draws extensively on paleontology, which deals with the study of
animals and plants of the geologic past. It also draws on stratigraphy, the science

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Physical Geology

that is concerned with the order and sequence of the rocks that make up the
Earths crust.

5.1.1 The Earths Size and Shape


More than 2000 years ago the Greeks discovered by geometric calculation that the
Earth was spherical in shape. They regarded the Earths shape as a perfect sphere,
not as an ellipsoid which it is. This mistake led them to calculate the Earths size
to be about 25% smaller than it is. Later in history this mistake became quite
significant when Columbus mistook America for India.
The most recent calculations indicate the Earth to be an oblate ellipsoid. That is to
say, the Earth is not a perfect sphere but rather slightly flattened at the poles. The
diameter of the Earth from the north pole to the south pole is calculated to be
7,900.4 miles, whereas the diameter through the equator is calculated to be
7,927.0 miles. Although the difference between the two diameters is only
26.6 miles, it must be taken into account in mapping and navigation. These
measurements are now accepted and used internationally as the basis for official
mapping.

5.1.2 The Earths Relief Features


The major irregularities of the Earths surface are the continents and the ocean
basins. Careful studies indicate that about 70% of the Earths surface is ocean and
30% land. The surface of the land is not smooth, but broken with areas of different
elevations. Low, relatively smooth plains, usually make up the central interior of
continents. Higher and somewhat rougher surfaced plateaus lie between the low
plains and the mountains. Areas of the highest elevation, the mountains, often
closely parallel the borders of the continents. Combinations of these three features
form the typical landscape of continents.
For our purpose as surface Data loggers, the most important relief features of the
oceans are the continental shelves. These border the continents and lie between
the shore line and the edge of the abysmal depths of the oceans. From the shore
lines, the shelves slope seaward, increasing in depth at a rate of about 12 to 60 feet
per mile, to an average depth of between 420 and 600 feet where the bottom
beings to descend abruptly. The continental shelf of North America varies in depth
at its outer edge and even more greatly in width along different parts of its extent.
In the Gulf of Mexico it varies up to more than 100 miles in width (Figure 5.1).
The extreme relief features of the Earth vary from the highest of 29,002 feet above
sea level (Mount Everest) to 34,000 feet below sea level (Philippine Deep). This
is a vertical distance of 12 miles. It may seem fantastic, but when compared in

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Isostasy

Three factors - altitude, latitude, and variations in density of nearby rocks - affect
the force of gravity at any point on the Earths surface. The third factor, variation
in rock density, is responsible for the major differences of the Earths features.
Because the force of gravity is greater on rocks of high density than on rocks of
low density, it is concluded that heavier rocks would normally tend to occur at a
lower elevation than adjacent lighter rocks. A principle generally accepted by
geologists and geophysicists is that the continents are composed of a lighter rock
than that which underlies the oceans. Careful examination of rocks taken from
continents and ocean basins indicates that this principle is well founded.

5.2 Isostasy
The fact that the lighter continental blocks stand higher than the heavy oceanic
segments suggests that the two units are in equilibrium. The term isostasy (from
the Greek isos equal and stasis standing) is used to define this condition of
balance. Such condition means that the pressure at some depth beneath large units
of the Earths crust must be substantially the same, and that any specific
differences which develop because of processes in operation at the surface, must
be adjusted by slow rock movement in the Earths plastic interior to maintain
balance. Hence, if a heavy load is placed on a certain area on the Earths surface a
gradual sinking of the area will follow. Conversely, if a heavy load is removed, the
area will rise. The isostatic movement of one area is necessarily offset by an
opposite isostatic movement of another area (Figure 5.2).
Isostatic movement has not been confined to forming the continents and ocean
basins. It has been active throughout the geologic past, creating shallow seas and
mountains. In North America, isostic downwarpings have caused many different
geologic seas to deposit sediments across the entire continental area except the
area of the Canadian Shield.

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Minerals

5.3 Minerals
Everyone realizes the importance of minerals in the nations industry and
economy. Iron ore minerals are required to keep the steel industry operating just
as barite and bentonite are required by the drilling mud industry. The future of
both of these industries will be determined by the amount of mineral reserves
available to them for preparing products. Geologists, through the science of
mineralogy, are constantly seeking deposits of vital minerals in order to keep
industrial reserves high.
Mineralogy is the study of minerals. It includes their chemical compositions,
crystal structure, physical properties, and occurrence.
A mineral is a naturally occurring substance which has a definite chemical
composition and internal structure with characteristic physical properties. Over
2,000 minerals have been recognized and described. The vast majority are rare.
Many of them have never been found in more than one location. Others are found
only as precious metals, gemstones, or valuable ores. Only about 20 are found
abundantly in the Earths crust. These are called the rock and soil forming
minerals because they comprise all but a small fraction of the Earths rocks and
soils.
Many minerals can be identified on the basis of a single physical property. As an
example, halite, or rock salt, is identified by taste. However, most minerals require
a combination of two or more physical properties for positive identification.
The more important physical properties for mineral identification are discussed
below.

5.3.1 Cleavage
Many minerals cleave or part along smooth planes. Some minerals such as mica,
have a perfect cleavage in one direction only, while other, such as galena, have
perfect cleavage in three directions. Terms such as perfect, uneven, hard, and easy,
are used to describe cleavage planes.

5.3.2 Fracture
Minerals which have no cleavage fracture or break irregularly. Fracture faces are
described as being conchoidal (like glass), rough, smooth, even, splinter, or
fibrous.

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5.3.3 Form
Minerals tend to crystallize into definite, characteristically shaped crystals,
bounded by smooth planes called crystal faces. If crystal faces are present, their
shapes and interfacial angles are diagnostic.

5.3.4 Color
All specimens of some minerals, such as magnetite and galena, have a constant or
uniform color, but others, such as quartz and calcite, may vary in color because of
impurities.

5.3.5 Streak
The color of the powder of a mineral is determined by scratching the surface of
the mineral with a knife or file, or it it is not too hard, by rubbing it on an
unpolished porcelain surface. The streak of a mineral may be similar, or entirely
different from the color of the mineral itself.

5.3.6 Luster
The luster of a mineral refers to the way ordinary light is reflected from its
surface. Metallic luster is like that of polished metals; vitreous luster is like that of
glass; adamantine like that of diamonds. Other self-explanatory terms used to
describe luster are resinous, silky, pearly, dull, Earth, oily, and waxy.

5.3.7 Hardness
The relative hardness of two different minerals can be determined by pushing a
pointed corner of one firmly across the flat surface of the other. If the mineral with
the point is harder, it will scratch or cut the other. The hardness of minerals is
usually recorded in terms of Mohs Scale of Hardness ranging from 1 to 10. The
numbers refer to the hardness of 10 minerals, arranged in order of increasing
hardness.

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Table 5.1

Mineral Hardness

Hardness

Mineral

Hardness

Mineral

Talc (least hard)

Orhtoclase

Gypsum

Quartz

Calcite

Topaz

Fluorite

Corundum

Apatite

10

Diamond (hardest)

When the minerals to make up this series are not available, it is convenient to
know that a pocket knife blade is about 5.5, a copper penny 3.5, and the thumbnail
about 2.5. Since most minerals have a hardness of less than 6, these tools are
usually adequate for determining the hardness of an unknown specimen.

5.3.8 Specific Gravity


The specific gravity, or density, can be found by the formula:
( weightofmineralinair )
SpecificGravity = -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------( weightofmineralinair ) ( weightofmineralinwater )

Specific Gravity is stated as a number indicating the ratio of the weight of the
substance to that of an equal volume of water. Specific gravity can be determined
by several different instruments in the laboratory.

5.3.9 Other Properties


Minerals have other physical properties which are often useful in identification.
Some of these properties are odor, taste, fluorescence, magnetism, solubility. Still
others react to dilute solutions of acids. When identifying minerals, geologists
often taste, smell, scratch, and otherwise closely examine specimens. It is small
wonder they are called rock hounds.

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5.4 Rocks
One of the basic principles of geology is the Uniformetarian Principle. It may be
stated as follows:
The present is the key to the past, or applied more specifically to our
present subject: Rocks from long ago at the Earths surface may be
understood and explained in accordance with processes presently going
on.
It assumes that, in the geologic past, water collected in streams and carried loads
of sediments to the sea; that marine animals lived and died in the ancient seas, and
that their shells were buried in the deposits accumulated on the sea floor. It also
assumes that ancient volcanoes erupted and extruded lava flows, just as they do
today. These and other similar assumptions are accepted truths as there is no
reason to believe that the physical laws and natural processes of the geologic past
have changed. Therefore, if features in solid rocks can be recognized as identical
to those now being formed by volcanoes, streams, and beaches, it is reasonable to
conclude that they were formed by the same type processes which are presently
occurring.
The Uniformetarian Principle is the underlying theme for all geologic studies. To
evaluate any rock, which is defined as an aggregate of minerals, it is essential to
know its origin, occurrence, mineral and chemical composition, and the process or
processes by which it was formed. All this information can usually be obtained
through the interpretation of the significant features contained within the rocks
themselves.
There are three major classes of rocks: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary.
This classification is based on origin. Igneous rocks are formed by the cooling and
solidification of molten or liquid rock. Metamorphic rocks are formed by the
alteration, through heat and pressure, of existing rocks. Sedimentary rocks are
formed by the accumulation of sediments.
Each of these three classes is important in a fundamental study of geology because
each class has a different significance in the Earths history. Each class contains
minerals and ores which may not be found in the other two. In a study of
petroleum geology for instance, sedimentary rocks are given much more attention
than the other two because petroleum is found almost exclusively within them.

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5.4.1 Igneous Rocks


As a geologic term, igneous (from the Greek ignis meaning fire) is used to
describe phenomena involving natural heat, fire, and molten rocks. This
description usually brings to mind an erupting volcano. Actually volcanoes are the
source of only one type of igneous rock - volcanic. A second type of igneous rock
is classified as plutonic.
The two differ mainly in their mode of origin, or the place in which they were
formed. Volcanic rocks were formed on the Earths surface; plutonic rocks
beneath it. Volcanic rocks naturally cooled much more rapidly than plutonic
rocks, and as a result they are composes of very fine mineral crystals and often
have the appearance of glass. The minerals in the volcanic rocks were allowed
little time to crystallize and grow before the liquid rocks solidified. Opposed to
this, plutonic rocks were cooled very slowly, and the mineral crystals allowed
time to grow very large. Consequently, plutonic rocks are composed of large
crystals of pure minerals. Obsidian, or volcanic glass, is a good example of
volcanic rock. Granite is a good example of plutonic rock. No mineral crystals can
be distinguished in obsidian, but large crystals fragments of quartz, feldspar,
magnetite may be easily distinguished in most granites.
Igneous rocks of high silica content are called acidic because of their high
proportion of silica (SiO2), the acid-forming radical. As a rule, they are light in
color and relatively low gravity. Igneous rocks containing a predominance of
bases such as lime, magnesium, and iron are called basic rocks. They are usually
dark-colored and heavy because of their high content of iron-bearing minerals.
Liquid rock material within the Earth (magma) may be spewed onto the Earths
surface through volcanic activity, or it may be intruded into rocks beneath the
Earths surface by plutonic activity.
When magma is erupted onto the Earths surface, it is called lava. Lava may be
solidified in two different forms; either as volcanic cones or extensive lava flows.
The Devils Postpile in California is an ancient lava flow, and the entire island of
Hawaii is built of volcanic cones, flows, and fragments. Volcanic rocks are in no
way related to the origin of petroleum, and their presence in old rocks simply
indicates ancient volcanic activity.
The underground movement of magma cannot be observed while it is in progress,
but the rock masses resulting from the solidification of such intrusions become
accessible to view after being uncovered by erosion.
Pluton is the term given to any body of intruded igneous rock. Such masses vary
greatly in composition and texture and in their relation to the enclosing rock.
Different masses of magmas have different viscosities, and consequently a given
intrusive mass represents the line of least resistance for that particular material.

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Based on their shapes and sizes, plutonic rock bodies are classified as dikes, sills,
laccoliths, volcanic necks, stocks, or batholiths (Figure 5.3).

Figure 5.3

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Sketch of Various Modes of Occurrence of Igneous Rocks

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Dikes
Dikes are tabular bodies of igneous rocks that fill former fractures in the Earths
crust. They may cut across formations, or they may cut into masses of older
igneous rocks. They vary in width from less than 1 inch to many feet, and in
length from a few yards to many miles.

Sills
Sills, like dikes, are tabular intrusive masses. They differ from dikes in that they
lie parallel to the formations of the enclosing rocks. Some sills are small, covering
areas of only a few acres, but others are very large. Most are less than 100 feet
thick.

Laccoliths
Laccoliths are large lenticular masses of igneous rock similar in origin to sills.
They are formed when intruded masses lift up overlying beds into domelike
structures. Laccoliths may range from 1/2 to 4 miles in diameter.

Volcanic Necks
The igneous rock solidified in the conduits that once fed volcanoes often remain
as remnants after erosion has removed the rest of the volcano. These cylindrical
masses are termed necks or plugs. They may be several thousand feet in diameter.

Batholiths
Batholiths are the largest and originally the deepest intrusive bodies of igneous
rock known. They are believed to have been the feeder sources of liquid material
for the igneous masses formed at a higher level. Batholiths are so large that they
are never sufficiently exposed to permit measurement of all three dimensions.
Many are 50 to 100 miles wide and more than 1,000 miles long, and they extend
downward to great but unknown depths. Most batholiths occur as the cores of a
folded mountain system.
Igneous activity is generally considered to be the origin of most metallic mineral
ores. Gold, silver, and copper are often found as native metals in veins of plutonic
rocks. Ores of other metals, such as lead, zinc, and nickel, are believed to have
been deposited by hot solutions from igneous rocks. Understandably, certain

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igneous rocks, especially plutonic rocks, are constantly being sought for their
mineral content.

5.4.2 Metamorphic Rocks


Every rock is the product of a definite environment. Sedimentary rocks are
products of deposition. Igneous rocks are products of igneous activity. There are
other rocks which possess structural features different from those of either
sedimentary or igneous rocks. A careful study of these rocks show that they were
formed through the alteration of pre-existing igneous and sedimentary rocks. Such
transformed rocks are called metamorphic.
Metamorphism is defined as the process that transforms rocks and minerals. The
factors that cause metamorphism are temperature, pressure, and chemical activity.
These factors increase in intensity with nearness to igneous intrusions and with
depth in the Earth.
Great heat in metamorphism usually develops a group of new minerals. This is
especially true when sedimentary rocks are involved. High temperatures produce
such minerals as garnet and graphite from materials in sedimentary rocks. Thus
the presence of garnet and graphite in a metamorphic rock indicates a condition of
high temperature. However, no such distinction can be made in the case igneous
rocks because heat cannot be expected to greatly modify rocks formed from the
cooling of molten material.
Pressures associated with metamorphism are of two types: static and dynamic.
Static pressure is uniform and is associated with burial. In general, static pressure
increases the solubility of minerals, while a release of pressure causes
precipitation. Changes in static pressure thus favor recrystallization. Rocks that
are metamorphosed by static pressure often show the development of enlarged
mineral grain size.
Dynamic pressures are uneven due to folding or deformation caused by intrusion.
Dynamic pressure, if rapidly applied, causes the rock to become granulated or
broken down into smaller grains. If the force is gradually applied, it causes the
rock to flow because of internal movement of crystals. This results in deformed
mineral crystals. For example, a crystal cube may be elongated into a trapezoid.
Rocks containing elongated, crushed, and deformed minerals indicate that they
were formed under conditions of dynamic metamorphism.
The chemically active agents which cause metamorphism are fluids, vapors, and
gases. The origin of these agents must be from either the rocks being
metamorphosed or from intruded magma. These agents may be any compound of

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water, the halogens, sulfur, carbon dioxide, iron, silica, etc. They carry many
metallic elements into rocks being metamorphosed. Rocks metamorphosed by
chemical activity are characterized by the presence of new minerals.

5.4.3 Sedimentary Rocks


Sedimentary (from the Latin word sedimentum) is applied to the rocks
formed by the deposition of materials on the Earths surface. This includes rocks
formed by the settling of materials in water; by materials precipitated from sea
water, and materials deposited upon the land by wind and ice. The great majority
of all sedimentary rocks, however, were formed from materials deposited in the
ocean or in bodies of water directly connected with it.
Sedimentary rocks are the most common on the surface of the Earth. They cover
approximately 75% of the land surface. Geologists estimate that they range in
thickness from a thin film to more than 40,000 feet.
Most of the material of which sedimentary rocks are composed comes from the
weathering and erosion of older rocks. The two materials produced by weathering
are fragments of rocks and soluble salts. The fragments are called clastic (broken)
materials; the soluble salts are called chemical materials. The former are
transported from their place of origin by water or wind, while the latter are
removed in solution. A third type of material found in sediments is derived from
plants and animals. It is called organic material. The deposition of these three
types of material has formed all sedimentary rocks. Something of the origin and
history, of sedimentary rocks can be learned by studying the materials of which
they are composed.

Clastic Material
The deposition of clastic materials produces clastic rocks such as shales,
sandstones, and conglomerates. The essential difference between these rocks is in
the size of the fragments of which they are composed.
A size scale of clastic materials is shown in the following table. These sizes are
the ones commonly accepted by geologists.
Table 5.2

Size of Clastic Materials


Kinds

5-14

Diameter (mm)

Boulders

over 256

Cobbles

64 to 256

Pebbles

4 to 64

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Table 5.2

Size of Clastic Materials


Kinds

Diameter (mm)

Granules

2 to 4
1/
16

Sand

to 2

Silt

/256 to 1/16

Clay

Below 1/256

Clastic fragments are sorted by the action of various transporting agents. Thus, if
the materials have about the same specific gravity, fragments of about the same
size will be deposited together. If the materials differ in specific gravity, large
fragments of light material will be mixed with small fragments of heavy material
in deposition.
The shapes of fragments may be described as angular, sub-angular, and rounded.
Rounded fragments usually result from wear during prolonged transportation.
Sharp, broken fragments generally have been deposited near their source. Thus,
the shape and size of clastic materials are important guides to geologists.

Chemical Materials
The most abundant soluble salts are calcium carbonate, silica, sodium chloride,
and compounds of magnesium, potassium, iron, and aluminum. These salts are of
varying solubilities in river water. Some of them are very soluble in sea water,
while others are not. The manner in which these compounds form sedimentary
rocks will be discussed later.

Organic Materials
The organic materials which form a small part of the sedimentary rocks are
derived from land and marine plants and animals. They contribute organic
material in the form of carbon. Under very special conditions, depositions of
carbonaceous materials become coal or petroleum. Swamps and lagoons along
shores are ideal sites for the deposition of carbonaceous material.
The hard skeletons of shells of marine animals are relatively insoluble in sea
water. They are composed largely of calcium carbonate and silicon dioxide. In
some areas, these materials have formed thick deposits of sedimentary rocks.

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5.4.4 Deposition of Sedimentary Rocks


At present, sediments are being deposited almost exclusively on the
10,000,000 square miles of the continental shelves. In the geologic past sediments
were deposited far inland in seas no longer existing. For example, in the interior of
North America, there were seas some 2,000 miles wide. In these seas, materials
were carried hundreds of miles out from the existing land, resulting in a single
continuous deposit of sandstone, shale, or limestone covering many thousand
square miles.

5.4.5 Classification of Sedimentary Rocks


By origin, sedimentary rocks may be classified into three groups: clastic,
chemical, and organic. These groups may be shown graphically (Figure 5.4).

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Formed through weathering


Mechanical weathering

Chemical weathering

Produces fragments of
minerals and rocks that are
removed mechanically and
deposited as the Clastic
Sedimentary Rocks.

Produces insoluble products that are Produces soluble products that are
Removed in solution by streams and deposited as the

Chemical Sedimentary Rocks

The rocks formed


from substances
slightly soluble in
sea water; hence
deposited soon
after reaching the
sea.

Organic Sedimentary Rocks

The rocks formed


from substances
very soluble in sea
water; hence
deposited only as a
result of
evaporation.
Calcareous Limestone

Conglomerates
Breccias
Sandstone
Siltstone
Shale

Boulders
Cobbles
Pebbles
Granules
Sand
Silt
Clay

Limestone...CaCO3
Chalk
Dolomite... MgCO3
Chert..........Soluble
silica
Flint
Hematite ......... Iron
Limonite ......oxides

in order of deposition
Gypsum .CaSO42H2O
Anhydrite........ CaSO4
Salt (halite) ........NaCl
Potassium and
Magnesium minerals

Siliceous Diatomite

Carbonaceous
Coal
Petroleum
Natural Gas

The carbon is derived dominantly from CO2, hydrogen from water, other constituents, indirectly,
through weathering and alteration.
Figure 5.4

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Sedimentary Rocks Chart

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5.4.6 Textures of Sedimentary Rocks


There are many different classifications of textures of sedimentary rocks. For
surface data loggers, only four of these require definitions:
Fragmental textures range from very fine-ground clays to coarse boulders or
blocks. They occur in clastic rocks.
2. Crystalline textures occur in evaporites and other chemical rocks precipitated
from aqueous solutions. The crystals may be microscopic, as in chert;
fine-grained, as in common limestone; or coarse-grained, as in some rock salt.
3. Oolitic textures occur in some limestones and sandstones. The term means
egglike. Thus, an Oolitic rock is made up of small shotlike bodies crowded
into a solid mass. The individual egglike bodies are composed of concentric
layers of calcite deposited about a minute grain, such as sand. Oolites may be
formed of calcite, silica, hematite, and other minerals.
4. Textures resulting directly from the activities of organisms, such as shells, are
classified as organic structures instead of textures.
1.

5.4.7 Characteristics of the Common Sedimentary Rocks


Breccia
A rock composed of cemented angular fragments of other rocks is a breccia.
Breccias are common along fault zones. They sometimes grade into
conglomerates when the fragments are slightly rounded. Breccias are deposited
very near their source; when the fragments of which they are composed are
carried a greater distance from the source, the fragments are rounded through
wear, and a conglomerate results.

Conglomerates
A conglomerate may be made up of any kind of rock fragments held together by
some cementing material such as shale or clay. Its distinguishing characteristic is
rounded coarse fragments. Conglomerates are necessarily younger than the
fragments of which they are composed.

Sandstones
Sandstone is composed of fragments and grains from a size smaller than those of a
conglomerate down to grains of about the size of ordinary granulated table sugar.
The principal distinction between coarse sandstone and fine conglomerate is that

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the sandstone is more apt to contains grains or fragments of rather uniform size,
without any unduly large pebbles. Sandstone can be described as fine, coarse, or
medium. It should be described as soft if it can be crumbled in the fingers, hard if
it breaks with difficulty with a hammer and medium-hard if it breaks under an
ordinary hammer blow.
Sandstones are usually deposited in water relatively close to a seashore. Such an
area along the shore is today, and has been in the past, the home of numerous
shellfish, such as clams, oysters, conch shells, scallops, sand dollars, and related
forms of life. These shells are composed of calcium carbonate or calcite. As
previously mentioned calcite is the principal natural cement and the presence of
numerous shells in the sandstone is a source of calcite which may in time, dissolve
and be redeposited again among the sand-grains cementing them together into a
solid rock. Complete fossil seashells are also common in sandstones.

Wind-Deposited Sandstones
Sandstones are also formed by the solidification of wind-blown sands on land. A
wind-blown sand deposit might be found underneath marine water deposited
sediments if an area such as the Sahara Desert should be suddenly submerged
beneath the sea. Wind-deposited sandstones are, on the whole, rare among oilfield
sediments and do not warrant much discussion. However, their present is
significant if they are found, as it indicates that the area was dry land and not
ocean at the time of deposition. This might be of great importance, since the
source of oil is almost universally marine organic material.
A well known wind-deposited sandstone formation is the Navajo sandstone of the
Navajo-Grand Canyon-Zion National Park area.

Siltstone
Siltstone is a rock composed of material whose small particles are larger than the
fine material of true shale and too small to be called sandstone. When broken in
the fingers, it is gritty rather than slippery, and often it is composed of a mixture of
fine sand grains and mud. For general purposes, a coarse siltstone could be
included under sandstone or a very fine siltstone might be included with shale.

Shale
Shale is the rock formed from compaction and solidification of the fine materials
of sedimentation which originally settled out in the water as mud. Consequently, it
is a deposit formed at greater distances from the shore than a conglomerate or a
sandstone, the material of which drops to the bottom as soon as the speed of the

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depositing current is reduced where a river runs into the ocean. The tiny particles
which make up shale will remain suspended for a long time even in still water.
Fine material washed into an ocean by a river may be caught in some of the
slow-moving ocean currents and transported for many miles. Hence, deposits of
shale of decidedly uniform character may be deposited over thousands of square
miles of ocean bottom.
Often the deposition of shale is periodic, not continuous. This may be due to
several causes, and much remains yet to be learned on the subject. Seasonal
floods, for example, may be a cause. Rivers often carry large loads of erosion
products during floods, and are relatively clear and carry nothing for other periods
of the year. In such cases, a film or layer of mud would be deposited on the bottom
after each storm or flood, and in long geological time, many thousands of such
films or layers would pile up. Shale formed by the solidification of such a deposit
of many layers, would be banded or bedded rock, and a core or surface exposure
of it would show bedding or stratification. There would actually be visible fine
line or bands in the rock. According to local conditions which caused the bedding
or stratification, the beds or strata might be a fraction of an inch thick or several
feet.
All material that is fine is not necessarily of the same composition. The fine
materials which accumulates to form shale is naturally ground up (and perhaps
altered) material of the rocks of the land from which it was eroded. Since
numerous kinds of rocks exist at different localities, their erosion products are
different, even though ground up to the same size particles. For this reason, all the
shale in the world is not alike. The particles of which it was composed are alike,
but only in size. Therefore, there are many different kinds of shale.
As there is no particular advantage in using new names for the different varieties,
they are all generally called shale, without another qualifying word added to
indicate what kind. A shale containing an important amount of calcium carbonate
(line) is referred to as a calcareous shale or simply limey shale. Likewise, shale
containing a large amount of silica, such as much of the Monterey shale of
California, is called siliceous shale. Many local characteristics are also used, such
as as nodular shale, poke chip shale (when the cores split into smooth wafers
or plates resembling poker chips), paper shale, and others.

Limestones
Limestone is different from any of the above described sedimentary rocks,
because it is a chemically deposited sediment and not from mechanical settlings.
The relation of erosion to the formation of limestone is not the carrying fine
particles of calcite (CaCO3 - the mineral of which limestone is composed) but it is
to carry instead, calcium carbonate to the ocean in solution.

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This calcium carbonate is in solution in sea water as is salt. Certain animals living
in the sea, principally corals, and small forms of life known as bacteria, are able to
extract calcium carbonate from the sea water and, by rather vaguely known like
processes, to resolidify or precipitate it as small, solid crystals of calcite. By this
process, deposits of limestone rock accumulate on sea floors where there is an
abundance of coral or peculiar bacterial life.
Certain plants such as algae can also extract calcium carbonate from sea water and
deposit it as limestone.
The life forms which are able to deposit limestone live in warm tropical or
sub-tropical waters, such as the Coral Sea north of the Great Barrier Reef, which
extends for more than a thousand miles along the northeast coast of Australia.
These animals require, in addition to warm temperatures, clear waters, fairly free
from stifling turbidity. Such conditions existed in past geological time in the
limestone area from the Gulf of Mexico far north to Canada. If the small,
oil-containing forms of life are also present and accumulate with the limestone, a
pertroliferous or oil-bearing limestone will be deposited. Such rocks have
produced oil fields in many parts of the world.

Dolomite
If a large part of the calcium in a limestone is replaced by magnesium, the rock is
dolomite. Dolomitization is a common process in limestones of all ages, and it is
often accomplished during the process of sedimentation. In fact, many so called
limestones are dolomites.

Chalk
Chalk is a special type of limestone composed of small shells, or fragments,
cemented together. Forminifera shells constitute a large part of the material, but
the presence of shells or other organisms is common. Chalk usually is soft,
porous, and white or grey, and some of it is massive in appearance. The chalk
cliffs of Dover, England, are an example. Some of the chalks of the Southwest,
particularly those of Texas, grade into denser beds that are as well consolidated as
ordinary limestone.

Marl
The porous masses of shells and shell fragments that accumulate on the bottoms
of may freshwater lakes form marls. The term marl is used also to designate
calcarious shales in which clay and finely divided particles of calcium carbonate
are mixed.

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Coquina
This term usually is applied to the more recent deposits of cemented shell
accumulations.

Reefs
Fossilized corals and associated marine life form another type of limestone known
as coral reefs. These limestones possess the skeletal features of the organism of
which they are formed. Reefs are formed in tropical waters along the shore of land
masses and around islands. They were probably formed in all of the ancient inland
seas of North America. Reefs are more technically known as bioherns.

Chert
Chert is a hard, compact, dense, siliceous material that occurs as distinct layers, or
as pebbles, in the beds of other rocks. Either colloidal silica was deposited with
the other sediments, or after deposition, silica-bearing waters partially replaced
the associated sediments.

Diatomaceous Earth
Diatoms are minute plants that live in great numbers in the sea and in freshwater
lakes. When they die, their siliceous skeletons accumulate to form diatomaceous
Earth. At many places diatomaceous Earth is interbedded with shales.

Coal
Coal is formed by the compacting and partial decomposition of vegetable
accumulations. The alteration of vegetation into peat, lignite, and various other
grades of coal is a long process. The grade of coal is dependent upon the kind of
material deposits and the amount of alteration that has taken place.

Salts and Gypsum


Several different metallic salts are present in sea water. They are listed in the
following table.

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Table 5.3

Salts Present in the Ocean


Composition

Percent

Sodium Chloride, NaCl

77.758

Magnesium Chloride, MgCl2

10.878

Magnesium Sulfate, MgSO4

4.737

Calcium Sulfate, CaSO4

3.600

Potassium Sulfate, K2SO4

2.465

Calcium Carbonate, CaCO3

0.345

Magnesium Bromide, MgBr2

0.217

Total

100.000

When sea water is evaporated to dryness, the salts come and are deposited. The
least soluble salts are deposited first. Calcium carbonate and iron oxide, if present
in the water, are the first to be deposited. Gypsum follows, and often with it some
anyhdrite is deposited. After gypsum, sodium chloride, or common table salt, is
deposited. The bitter salts consisting of sulfates and chlorides of potassium and
magnesium are deposited last. These are so soluble that they are not always
deposited with salt and gypsum. The rocks formed in this manner are called
evaporites. Thick deposits of evaporites were probably formed in evaporating
bodies of sea water which intermittently received influxes of fresh sea water.
Associated with salt and gypsum in many places are red beds, composed mainly
of red sandstones and shales. These are red because they contain small amounts of
iron oxide. It is believed that they have been formed under arid conditions.

5.4.8 Structural Features of Sediments


Stratification
The most distinctive structural feature of sedimentary rocks is their arrangement
in beds, layers, or strata.

Cross-bedding
Sediments that show parallel bedding at an angle to the planes of general
stratification are cross-bedded. Wherever steep slopes are produced by the rapid
deposition of sediments (as at the front of a delta or on offshore bars, barriers, etc.)

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cross-bedding occurs. Wind-lain deposits, such as sand dunes, are


characteristically cross-bedded.

Graded Bedding
When a mixture of particle grains is brought to the site of deposition, the coarser
and heavier grains settle more rapidly than others. It follows then that the bed of
sediment finally accumulated shows a segregation of the grains as determined by
their relative rates of setting. Thus the bottom portion of a bed may consist of
coarse or heavy particles, whereas the upper portion is made up of relatively fine
or light particles. Such an arrangement is called graded bedding. The presence of
graded bedding in rocks indicate seasonal deposition within a relatively still body
of water.

5.4.9 Stratigraphic Relations of Sediments


Conformity and Unconformity
Deposition of materials in areas is not always constant. When the area is elevated,
or uplifted, deposition ceases and erosion naturally begins. When an area
subsides, or sinks, erosion ceases and deposition begins.
When the deposition of a series of beds is constant, one bed is said to lie on the
other with conformity. If, however, there is an interruption in deposition, and
erosion takes place, the bed deposited immediately after the interruption is said to
lie on the eroded surface in an unconformable manner. If the beds below the
eroded surface are tilted so that they form an angle with the overlying bed, the
contact is called an angular unconformity (Figure 5.5).

Figure 5.5

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Overlap and Offlap


Normally, when streams and rivers reach the sea, their velocity is reduced.
Because of this, the sediments which they carried are deposited layer upon
preceding layer.
If the sea is transgressing on the land, the velocity of the streams and rivers are
reduced progressively farther inland; thus, succeeding sediments carried by these
agents are deposited progressively farther inland, forming layers which overlie
beds formed by preceding deposits and the eroded surface on which the sea has
transgressed. This arrangement of layers of sedimentary rocks is called an overlap
(Figure 5.6).

Figure 5.6

Diagram Showing an Overlap

A complete reversal of this occurs when the sea is regressing. Sediments carried
to the sea by rivers and streams are deposited progressively farther from the
original shore line. As the sea regresses, young deposits of sediments are exposed,
eroded, and carried once more into the sea and redeposited progressively further
from the original shore line. The arrangement of layers of sedimentary rocks is
called offlap (Figure 5.7).

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Figure 5.7

Diagram Showing an Offlap

Lateral and Vertical Variation of Sediments


In a sedimentary basin constantly receiving sediments at a uniform rate, the
sediments become graded laterally prior to deposition. The coarse gravels are
deposited near the shore line; the pebbles and sands are deposited farther out; the
silts and clays are deposited still farther out; and the limes and calcareous oozes
are deposited out beyond the clays in relatively quiet water. The deposition of
these sediments may extend to cover an area several hundreds of miles in length
and width. The layer of rock that is formed from sediments graded in this manner
will occur as a conglomerate in one geographical area, a sandstone in another
area, a shale in another area, and a limestone in another. The different types of
rocks formed by this grading process in a geographical area are sedimentary
equivalents, and they are called facies. This name indicate that they were formed
during the same period of deposition.
During a period of deposition, thick layers of like sediments may be accumulated
only if the supply of sediments remains uniform and the shore line remains stable.
In other words, conglomerates are deposited on top of conglomerates, sands are
deposited on sands, etc. If the shore line shifts (because of a transgressing or
regressing sea) or if the supply of sediments fluctuates (because of changing
velocity of the streams and rivers), the lateral sequence of deposition is also

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shifted. Repeated lateral shifting of the depositional sequence causes


conglomerates to be deposited over sands, and sands to be deposited over shales,
when the shore line shifts seaward. The reverse occurs when the shore line shifts
inland. This results in an interfingerng, or interbedding, of lateral facies. Detailed
studies of such lateral changes are of utmost importance in the search for
petroleum (Figure 5.8).

Figure 5.8

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Diagram Showing Ideal Lateral and Vertical Variation Within Sedimentary


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Fossils and Their Significance


Fossil (from the Latin word fossilis meaning dug up) refers to any remains or
direct evidence of plant or animal life preserved in the rocks of the Earths crust.
Since plants have few preservable parts, plants are not so well represented by
fossils as are animals. However, some plant fossils do occur as graphitic remains
or as impressions of leaves and stems in shales and sandstones. The woody fibers
of other plants have been filled in by silica, producing silicified wood as may be
found in the petrified forest of Arizona.
The shells, bones, teeth, and general skeletal matter of animals, even their tracks,
trails, and burrows have been fossilized. In some cases the entire animal has been
preserved, constituting unique fossils of great valve.
Such remnants show the development of life through the long ages of the Earths
history. The more primitive forms of life are found in the earliest rock formations.
Evolutional changes are recorded by the fossils in the rocks of succeeding time. In
other words, the oldest sedimentary rocks contain the oldest, most primitive forms
of animals, and the youngest sediments, those being formed now, will contain
todays forms of animal life.
A fossil-bearing rock may be dated by the fossils it contains. Thus, geologists
have come to recognize certain fossil forms as indices, or guides, to certain
geologic ages. Many animals evolved into the animal forms of today; whereas
many others became extinct at various times during the geologic past. Some of
these animals lived for such a short time that their traces may be found only in
extremely thin zones within a rock formation. These are called horizon markers
and they are excellent guides for correlating across facies changes. If the fossils
occurring in the sedimentary rocks of two widely separated areas are alike, it
follows that these sediments were accumulating during approximately the same
period of geologic history.

5.4.10 Isostatic Control of Sediments


As shown by fossils, and other features, a large part of the sedimentary rocks were
formed in shallow seas and oceans. In several mountain ranges these sediments
are tens of thousands of feet thick. The inference is that the accumulation of such
thick deposits of sediments in shallow waters was made possible by progressive
subsidence of the sites of deposition. This subsidence is attributed to isostatic
movement (the sinking of an area because of a heavy load of sediments). How
then did this area become a mountain? In precisely the same manner. When a
heavy load lowered a nearby are area, this area was raised as a counterbalance.

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Diastrophism and Structural Geology

The character of sedimentation depends in part upon the balance between the rate
of subsidence and the rate of filling of a basin. Contemporaneous changes in the
source areas also affect the character. Notable uplift adjacent to a basin would
supply a great bulk of coarse sediment, whereas long-continued erosion of stable
land would change the sediment to fine mud and solutions. If little water reached a
basin, evaporation would begin, causing the deposition of evaporites.
Hence, sedimentary rocks, by their composition, texture, thickness, area
distribution and other characteristics, reflect the complex interplay of a number of
factors. Perhaps the most influential of these is isostatic movement.

5.5 Diastrophism and Structural Geology


Sedimentary rocks are normally deposited horizontally in parallel layers. After
deposition some of these rocks were subjected to forces which caused them to
become warped, tilted, uplifted or otherwise changed from the original positions
and elevations. The forces which cause these changes are called diastrophic or
mountain building forces. The resulting changes are grouped together under the
term diastrophism.
The rock patterns formed by diastrophic forces acting on parallel layers of rocks
are called structures. Certain types of structures form traps in which petroleum
may be found. Therefore, many methods of petroleum prospecting are based on
the location and identification of subsurface structures. For this reason, structural
geology is an essential subject in the study of petroleum geology.
Structures may be classed as (1) gentle warps, (2) folds, (3) joints and (4) faults.
Since these structures are not usually seen in their entirety, the attitude of the
rocks of which they are composed may serve as a guide to identification.

5.5.1 Attitude of Strata


The attitude of a bed of rock or strata refers to its dip and strike. The term dip
designates the angle a bed is tilted from its original horizontal position. Dip is
measured in the direction of steepest inclination. For example, a bed may have a
dip of 30o toward the southeast.
The term strike designates the direction of the intersection of a bed of rock with
the horizontal plane. The direction of strike is measured by a compass at a right
angle to the direction of dip. In the example, the strike of the bed is northeast
(Figure 5.9).

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Figure 5.9

Diagram Illustrating the Dip and the Strike of a Tilted Bed

5.5.2 Warps
Rocks which have been warped form gently sloping structures, such as irregular
shaped basins and domes. The beds of rocks in such structures are gently tilted.
Uniformly tilted beds are homoclines. This name indicates that the strata of this
structure are inclined in the same direction. Broad downwarped structures are
called geosynclines (Figure 5.10).

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Figure 5.10 Diagram of a Geosyncline

5.5.3 Folds
Where beds of rock have been subjected to extreme horizontal forces, they bend
into folds with alternating crests and troughs. The principal types of folded
structures are anticlines, synclines, and domes and basins. Where the beds of rock
are arched up like the roof of a house, they form an anticline, i.e. the bed dip away
from each other. Downfolds, or troughs, where the beds dip toward one another,
are call synclines.

5.5.4 Kinds of Faults


If the hanging-wall block of a fault appears to have moved down, the fault is
called a normal fault. If it appears to have moved up, the fault is a thrust or
reverse fault. Faults that cut across the dip of beds are dip-faults. Those which
lie parallel to the strike are strike faults. Those which cut across both strike and
dip are oblique faults. Dip, strike, and oblique faults may be either normal or
reverse.

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Diastrophism and Structural Geology

Some faults are neither normal or reverse, but involve longitudinal movement
parallel to the fault plane, as in the San Andreas fault of California. Such a fault is
a rift or tear fault.
A block depressed between two faults is a graben, and a block raised between
two faults is a horst (Figure 5.11).

Figure 5.11 Diagrams of Various Types of Faults

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Historical Geology

5.6 Historical Geology


Historical geology is that branch of the geologic science that relates to the past
history of the Earth. It depends on virtually all knowledge of the field of physical
geology gained in the study of minerals, rocks, geologic processes and structures.
It uses this knowledge in deducing the conditions and events of the Earths past.
In the study of Earths history we seek to understand the origin and development
of the continents and oceans, the changing geography of the lands and seas, the
appearance and disappearance of great mountain systems, the occurrence of
prolific volcanic activity at different times and places, and the great climatic
changes. In addition, the study includes the innumerable fossils of prehistoric
plants and animals, many of which represent forms of life which have long since
become extinct. If these remains were not preserved in the rocks, much of the
Earths history would not be revealed.
In historical geology the term correlation is applied to the process of determining
the age equivalence of rock formations. The basic requirement for correlation lies
in the fact that no one area on the Earths surface presents a complete record of
geologic history. Sedimentation was interrupted in one region while it proceeded
in another. Crustal disturbance generally accompanied by vulcanism, was
similarly active. The aim of correlation is to determine the relationship of the
rocks of one area to those in others. The tools of correlation are formation
continuity, lithologic similarity, structural relations, organic remains and fossils.
The term geologic column refers to the entire succession of rocks, from oldest
to youngest, that are known to occur in a given region, or on the Earth as a whole.
Thus, we speak of the geologic column as a geologic time scale or a
stratigraphic section for a given area because it is a record of the events that
took place in that area. This geologic time scale consists of major and minor time
divisions arranged in proper time sequence. The names given to the divisions of
geologic time differ. However, these variations are confined mainly in the
nomenclature of the smaller units.
The largest units of geologic time are called eras. An era is a time division
consisting of two or more periods. It is recognized as a major chapter in the
Earths history. Periods are major segments of geologic time which have
worldwide application. They comprise successive groupings of lesser formations.
Each is broadly characterized by particular organisms. In most parts of the world
there are distinct breaks between rocks of adjacent periods, called unconformities.
Just as eras are divided into periods, periods are divided into epochs.
Variation in the sedimentary record on different continents, or in sedimentary
basins of the same continent, often produce epochs that are only regional in scope.

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Historical Geology

The standard geologic time scale is divided into eras, periods, epochs, ages,
stages, and substages. Because many local variations in nomenclature this
presentation will be limited to a discussion of the eras, periods and epochs as we
are concerned with them as surface data loggers.
The following table represents the geologic column and time scale used by the
U.S. Geological Survey.
Table 5.4

Geologic Column and Time Scale


Era

Cenozoic

Period

Epoch

Quaternary

Recent Pleistocene

Tertiary

Pliocene
Miocene
Oligocene
Eocene
Paleocene

Mesozoic

Cretaceous
Jurassic
Triassic

Paleozoic

Permian
Pennsylvanian
Mississippian
Devonian
Silurian
Ordovician
Cambrian

Proterozoic

Keweenawan
Huronian
Timiskamingian

Archeozoic

Keewatin

Often a geologic cross-section accompanies a geologic column. A geologic


cross-section is a graphic representation, over an extended area, of the attitudes of
the subsurface formations.

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5.7 Petroleum

5.7.1 Chemistry of Petroleum


Petroleum is a complex mixture of gaseous, liquid, and solid hydrocarbons. In
addition there are compounds which contain oxygen, nitrogen, and sulphur.
Frequently, relatively small amounts of water and inorganic matter are present.
The properties of different samples of petroleum are not uniform because of
varying chemical composition and the presence of impurities. Petroleum occurs in
the physical state as a liquid (crude oil), as a gas (natural gas), or in a solid or
semi-solid state (as asphalt). Since petroleum in the natural reservoir occurs, in
most cases under pressure, some of the gases and certain solid matter are
dissolved in the liquid.

5.7.2 Chemical Properties


Hydrocarbons are grouped into two general series on the basis of the chemical
union of the carbon atom and the resulting character of the series. The first series,
in which the carbon atoms are linked in a straight chain, is known as the
open-chain or aliphatic series. The second series, in which the carbon atoms are
arranged in a closed-chain or ring, is known as the closed-chain or carbocyclic
series. The formula of the open-chain series is arranged in a straight chain as
shown by the structural formula for butane (C4H10).

Figure 5.12 Structural Formula for Butane

It is evident that each carbon atom is united with one or more additional carbon
atoms, and the remaining unsatisfied valences are united with hydrogen.
The formula for the closed-chain series is arranged in a ring as shown by the
structural formula for benzene (C6H6).

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H
C
H

C
H
Figure 5.13 Structural Formula for Benzene

5.7.3 Aliphatic Hydrocarbons


Paraffin Series
The members of the paraffin series occur extensively in natural gas, crude oil and
mineral waxes. This series consists of such widely known compounds as methane,
ethane, propane, butane, pentane, etc. Gasoline and kerosene consist mainly of the
paraffins. The members of the series are saturated hydrocarbons containing only
singly linked carbon atoms. The basic formula for this series is C2H2n+2.

Olefine Series
The Olefine series members contain two less hydrogen atoms than those in the
paraffin series. The basic formula for this series is CnH2n. Some of the members
of this series are ethylene, propylene, butylene, etc. The Olefines are similar to the
paraffins in physical properties but they are different in chemical properties. The
olefines have double bonds between some of the carbon atoms, as propylene
(C3H6).
H
C

H
C

C
H

H
H

Figure 5.14 Structural Formula for Butane

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Acetylene Series
The basic formula for the acetylene series is CnH2n-2. Members of this series have
two carbons united by triple bonds. There are two less hydrogen atoms in
compounds of this series compared with corresponding members of the olefine
series.

Diolefine Series
The diolefines are unsaturated hydrocarbons having the same basic formula as the
acetylenes, CnH2n-2. However, the structural formula differs in the the diolefines
have two double-bonded carbon atoms instead of one triple-bonded carbon atom.

5.7.4 Carbocycles or Aromatic Hydrocarbons


Benzene Series
The members of the benzene series are all unsaturated cyclic compounds; that is,
the carbon atoms are arranged in closed rings. The rings are very stable, but the
hydrogen atoms are easily replaced by radicals and side chains. Members of this
series are found in almost all crude oil and natural gas.

Cycloparaffin Series
This series is known as alacyclic because it possesses both the properties of
aliphatic and cyclic hydrocarbons. It resembles the paraffin series in chemical and
physical properties except for density, which is greater. The basic formula is
CnH2n, and the structural formula is cyclic, but the members are saturated
hydrocarbons since they have single bonds between the carbon atoms.

Napthalene Series
Compounds of this series have the basic formula CnH2n-12. In the structural
formula napthalene, C10H8, the nucleus is composed of two rings, which is a
typical structural formula for the series.

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CH

HC
HC

CH

HC

CH

HC

CH

Figure 5.15 Structural Formula for Napthalene

Crude petroleum is composed, then, almost entirely of a mixture of aliphatic or


carbocyclic hydrocarbons. There is little information as to the actual ratio of the
two types of hydrocarbons in oil, but it seems probable that the cycloparaffins
predominate.
The low boiling fraction of practically all petroleum is composed of paraffin
series hydrocarbons. However, the differences in oil from various sources are
exhibited in the higher boiling fractions. If residue after the removal of the volatile
members consists of large amounts of paraffin or wax, the petroleum is classified
as a paraffin base oil. Similarly, if napthalenic hydrocarbons predominate the
petroleum is an asphalt base oil.

5.7.5 Origin of Petroleum


The origin of petroleum is one of the unsettled problems of petroleum geology. It
is made doubly complex because of petroleums migratory nature. Because
petroleum is fluid and capable of movement, the source rock (where the
petroleum is formed) may or may not also be the reservoir rock (where the
petroleum is found). This has caused a great deal of uncertainty about the origin of
petroleum, resulting in the advancement of innumerable theories.
These theories may be divided into two groups: the inorganic and the organic.

Inorganic Theories
Inorganic theories were the first advanced to account for the formation of
petroleum. Betheolot, in 1866, suggested that mineral oils were formed by the
action of water on metallic carbides. He based his idea on the assumption that the
interior of the Earth contained free alkaline metals with which carbon dioxide
could react at high temperatures to form carbides and acetylides. The carbides or
acetylides would then react with water to form acetylene, which when heated to

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approximately 900oC, polymerizes to form benzene, one of the hydrocarbon


series.
Medeleef, about this time, also showed that the action of carbon dioxide and water
upon the alkali metals (sodium and potassium) gave off small quantities of
hydrocarbons.
Both of these theories would be acceptable, but for the fact that neither pure
carbides nor pure alkali metals are known to exist in the Earths crust. If they do
exist in the pure state they can do so only at the high temperatures associated with
volcanic phenomena. As a greater part of the Earths oil fields are far removed
from any center of igneous activity, these theories were never seriously accepted
by geologists.
Other unacceptable inorganic theories of the origin of petroleum concern the
reaction of a volcanic gas (ammonium chloride) with native iron, or the reaction
between limestone and gypsum at very high temperatures which forms
disassociated water and carbon.

Organic Theories
The organic origin of petroleum is generally accepted by scientists. But there
remain many problems as yet unsolved. It is generally believed that petroleum
originated by a series of complex processes from plant and animal substances.
The exact nature of the original organic material is not known, although much
valuable data on this has been assembled. The biological, chemical and geological
processes necessary for the conversion of the organic matter of plants and animals
into hydrocarbons are not completely understood.
It has been reasonably established that petroleum is of organic origin because:
Some petroleums are optically active, i.e., most oils have the power of
rotating the plane of polarization of polarized light. Only matter derived from
organic origin could have this power.
2. Petroleum contains nitrogenous compounds. All such compounds found in
nature are either of plant or animal origin.
3. Some petroleum contains chlorophyll porphyrins, which are derivatives
obtained from the chlorophyll of plants or from the blood cells of animals.
4. Some petroleums contain hydrogen sulfide gas which results from bacterial
decomposition of plants and animals.
1.

Despite considerable research there is still a wide divergence of opinion as to the


type of organic material which can be changed into petroleum.

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Organic matter that might be considered as potential source material for


petroleum occurs in a wide variety of both animals and plants. This fact alone may
explain the great variation in petroleums found in nature. On the other hand, the
source material may have consisted predominantly of a single type of organic
matter. The variations in composition may have developed later as a result of
migration, bacterial action, metamorphism, etc. As yet there is no conclusive
evidence indicating whether the primary source material of petroleum consists of
many types of organic matter or one predominant type.
The primary source of the organic matter in sediments may be either animal or
vegetable remains, or both. Some of this matter is carried to areas of
sedimentation by streams, waves, or currents, and some of it remains where it
occurred. Since most petroleum deposits are closely associated with marine
sediments, it follows, then, that petroleum very likely originated in marine
sediments. Consequently, the organic matter of the oceans is of utmost importance
in the study of the origin of petroleum.
Most of the organic matter in sea water is either dissolved or is in a colloidal form.
The rest is contained in the plant and animal like of the ocean, chiefly in plankton,
the microscopic and semi-microscopic free-swimming organisms.
It is difficult to estimate the rate at which organic matter is produced in the sea.
Plankton, for instance, is produced at a rate as high as several hundred grams per
cubic meter of sea water per year. Photosynthesis (the process whereby plants
convert carbon dioxide and water into carbon compounds under the influence of
light) has been estimated to produce 12 million tons (80 million barrels) of
hydrocarbon material annually in the ocean. A minute fraction of this material,
preserved in sedimentary rocks, could be transformed into all known petroleum
deposits, plus those that we can expect to discover in the future.
Organic matter is formed not only by plants and animals in the ocean but also by
those on land. Much of it formed on land eventually reaches the ocean by streams
and rivers in solution or in colloidal dispersion. In fact, of 50% of the sedimentary
materials carried by streams and rives may be organic matter.
In this regard, humic substances are probably the most important organic
materials formed on land. They are formed by the slow decomposition of lignins
in peat. They are found in soil highly charged with decaying vegetation. Vast
quantities of humic acid are forming constantly in swampy regions, especially in
the tropics.
These substances include humic acid, geic acid, and ulmic acid. There is a close
similarity between these substances and petroleum, as illustrated by the deposits
of asphalt and other hydrocarbons formed of humic substances along the coast of
Florida. The precipitation of such deposits might be caused by the mingling of
fresh and salt water.

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5.7.6 Transformation of Organic Material into Petroleum


Most investigators agree that organic material is the primary source of petroleum.
Yet, the suggested mechanisms by which the material is transformed into
petroleum runs the gamut of physical, chemical and geological speculation. The
transformation of this matter to petroleum requires energy. In general, the
proposed sources of energy fall under the following headings: (1) heat and
pressure, (2) bacterial action, (3) radioactive bombardment, and (4) catalytic
reactions.
There is a wide discrepancy between the temperature needed to transform organic
matter into petroleum in the lab and the low temperature found in a natural
environment. One explanation may be that time replaces temperature. That is,
some reactions, if given a geologically long period of time, will occur at
temperatures lower than those that are necessary in the laboratory. In other words,
the reaction would occur at any temperature, but the lower the temperature the
longer the time required.
Deep burial and consequent pressures may also play a part in the transformation
of petroleum compounds. This is indicated by the changes in composition and
gravity (viscosity) of oil which accompany changes in pressure and temperature.
More specifically, these changes are: (1) changes in composition occurring with
increasing depth of burial, and (2) changes in gravity and character as a result of
regional metamorphism.
Bacteria are thought to function in several ways in aiding the final transformation
of organic decay products into petroleum. Evidence to support this is derived in
part from results in the laboratory and in part from its occurrence in nature.
Laboratory experiments have shown that bacteria are able to produce
hydrocarbons from organic matter. Although this has not been observed in nature,
it is important that it can occur.
Some investigators feel that radioactive phenomena aid or cause the
transformation of organic matter into petroleum. However, there is evidence to the
contrary. Laboratory experiments indicate that hydrogen atoms are split off
hydrocarbons by alpha radiation. This would cause, in geologic time, the
formation of progressively heavier oils with a high ratio of carbon to hydrogen;
whereas the change from organic matter to petroleum calls for a progressive
increase in the ratio of hydrogen to carbon. For this reason, there is considerable
doubt as to the value of radiation in the transformation of organic matter into
petroleum.
It is believed that certain organic and inorganic substances which commonly occur
in sea water may act as catalysts in the transformation of organic material into
petroleum. Biochemically active bacteria and allied micro-organisms may be the
principal catalyzers of chemical and physico-chemical reactions in recently

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deposited sediments. It is known that microbial activity affects some of the


properties of recent sediments, such as oxygen tension, oxidation-reduction
potential, hydrogen-ion concentration, sulphide and sulphate content, carbonate
content, and state of iron and manganese.
Certain metallic elements (such as lead, nickel, vanadium, iron, and copper) are
commonly found in petroleum, apparently in some form of organic combination.
Some of these elements may act as catalysts in the generation of petroleum.

Conditions
All available evidence suggests that organic materials might have been
transformed into petroleum under the following conditions:
1.
2.
3.
4.

5.

Deposition of organic material in fine sands and silts in fairly shallow marine
water.
Rapid burial preventing destruction by bottom dwellers.
Normal decomposition with burial and the beginning of anaerobic bacterial
activity.
Conversion of material toward hydrocarbon material. The transformation
continues until the mixture becomes so foul by the accumulation of hydrogen
sulfide gas that it kills off all bacteria.
Migration and accumulation of oil as sediments are compacted.

5.7.7 Migration and Accumulation of Petroleum


Because oil and gas ordinarily do not occur in commercial deposits in the same
rocks in which they originated, migration from the source rock to the reservoir
rock is assumed. Geologists believe that further migration takes place through the
reservoir rock until the hydrocarbons either escape or are caught in some type of
natural trap. There is little dissent to the concept of migration because of the
extreme mobility of natural gas.

Migration
The movement or migration of petroleum from the source beds into reservoirs can
be divided into two parts: (1) transverse migration from the source beds into a
carrier bed; and (2) longitudinal migration through the carrier bed to a suitable
trap. The movement of petroleum through rocks is apparently caused by several
types of energy, including compaction, capillarity, differential specific gravity,
hydrostatic pressure and gas pressure.

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It is believed that compaction within the source beds is the principal force causing
the movement of petroleum from source beds into carrier beds. Compaction is
also regarded as an important force in the migration of petroleum through the
carrier beds. Obviously the fluids occupying the pore space will be driven out by
the compaction of the clay, mud or ooze of the source bed. These fluids move in
the direction of least resistance into non-compacting porous formations, such as
sandstone or porous limestone. Although direct proof that compaction has been an
important factor is not to be expected, the direct association of most oil-producing
regions with structural basins is an indication that it does play an important part.
Capillarity is action, due to surface tension, by which the surface of a liquid where
in contact with a solid, is elevated or depressed. Surface tension of a liquid causes
it to act as an elastic enveloping membrane, so that it tends to compact to the
minimum area. The surface tension of water is approximately three times that of
oil. Capillary action, therefore, would tend to draw water into the finest openings,
displacing the oil and gas. In a slow transfer of liquids between shales and
sandstone, oil would be displaced from the shales into the sandstones because the
water enters fine pores three times as easily as oil and has three times as much
difficulty in leaving.
Every oil field is evidence of migration caused by the action of gravity. If present,
water occupies the lowest position in the reservoir. Oil floats on water and it
occupies the next highest position above the water. Any gas present will occur
above oil and will occupy the highest position in reservoirs. Other forces may
cause petroleum to migrate great distances, but gravity is responsible for the final
arrangement of water, oil, and gas in reservoirs.
The theory behind the action of hydraulic pressure in the migration of petroleum
suggests that moving water under hydraulic pressure has been an important agent
in the migration and accumulation of petroleum. According to this theory,
hydrocarbons are carried along by the flow of underground water. However, the
movement of petroleum through rocks is probably faster than the movement of
water through rocks. Yet, it is conceivable that oil migration could be aided or
hindered, depending on the direction of flow, by the movement of underground
water.
Differential gas pressure has been suggested as a factor in the migration and
accumulation of petroleum. However, it usually is considered only an aid to other
factors, such as capillarity, differential specific gravity, or hydraulic movement.

Transverse Migration
Migration directions are considered in terms of the stratification planes of rocks.
Oil either migrates in a longitudinal (parallel) or transverse (vertical) direction to
the stratification planes. Generally, the primary migration from source rock to

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reservoir rock is transverse, and the secondary migration through the reservoir to
the trap is longitudinal.
Transverse migration can be downward or upward. If movement is taking place
because of differences in the specific gravity of oil and water, the migration
direction of oil will be upward. But if the oil is being squeezed from a rock by
compaction it will move in a path of least resistance, whether that be upward,
downward, or sideways. The prerequisite for transverse migration is that a
receptive layer must be present to receive the flow.
Downward transverse migration is responsible for the occurrences of oil in
basement igneous rocks of buried hills. Other examples of transverse migration
are the accumulations of oil beneath unconformities, especially those occurring in
the leached upper surfaces of thick limestones.

Longitudinal Migration
Longitudinal migration is possible where a porous and permeable rock layer
occurs in the sedimentary section. Longitudinal migration is by no means
confined to widespread sandstones or regional porous limestones. Sand-filled
channels and bars in thick shale sections also may be used.
The confinement of oil accumulations to the highest levels in the reservoir rock is
presumptive evidence that oil moved through the rock until those levels were
attained. Unless it is assumed that by some strange coincidence oil entered the
reservoir where there were traps, it must be concluded that the oil migrated
laterally until trapped.
It can be concluded that petroleum has traveled by both longitudinal and
transverse migration in moving from the source to the trap.

Accumulation
Many different classifications have been proposed to include the wide range of
geologic conditions under which oil and gas pools occur. But because of the many
different types of oil and gas pools, it has been difficult to establish a classification
which covers all types. One generalization applies to all types; oil and gas
accumulate in pools because their upward or lateral migration is stopped by a trap
or closure. These traps are formed by stratigraphic conditions which were formed
at the time of deposition of the sediments, by later changes in the sediments, by
structural deformation, or by a combination of two or more of these factors.
The following is an outline classification of traps or reservoirs.

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I.

Closed Reservoirs
A. Reservoirs closed by local deformation of strata.
1. Reservoirs closed by folding
a. Reservoirs in closed anticlines and domes
b. Reservoirs in closed synclines and basins
2. Reservoirs developed through the off-setting of strata by faulting of
homoclinal structures
3.

Reservoirs defined by combinations of folding and faulting

4.

Reservoirs formed through the cutting of strata by intrusions


a. Intrusions of salt
b. Intrusions of igneous rock

5. Reservoirs developed in fault and joint fissures and in crush zones.


B. Reservoirs closed because of varying porosity of rocks
1. Reservoirs in sandstone caused by lensing of sandstone or by varying
porosity
2. Lensing porous zones in limestones and dolomites
3. Lensing porous zones in igneous and metamorphic rocks
4. Reservoirs in truncated and scaled strata
a. Closed by overlap of relatively impervious rock
b. Closed by seal of viscous hydrocarbons
C. Reservoirs closed by a combination of folding and varying porosity.
II. Open reservoirs
None of commercial importance
Figures 4-16 through 4-24 show the types of traps and where in the trap that oil
and gas is likely to accumulate.
Note: In the following illustrations, the symbol at the right
shows hydrocarbon accumulation.

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Figure 5.16 Types of Oil Traps

Figure 5.17 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Fault Bend

Figure 5.18 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Fault Propagation

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Figure 5.19 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Fault Drag

Figure 5.20 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Fault Drape

Figure 5.21 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Lift Off

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Figure 5.22 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Chevron/Kink Band

Figure 5.23 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Diapir

Figure 5.24 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Differential Compaction

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Figure 5.25 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Fold

Figure 5.26 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Fault

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Figure 5.27 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Piercement

Figure 5.28 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Combination Fold/Fault

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Figure 5.29 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Subunconformity

Figure 5.30 Cross-Sections of Formation Structures: Subunconformity

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Figure 5.31 Simple Asymmetric Anticline with Two Oil-bearing Strata

Note the change in the dip of axis of fold (line GH). BC indicates the width of the
productive area for the upper sand; EF that of the lower sand. Axes of folds
(at A and D) lie near the left edge of the productive area. Well 1 is productive;
well 2 only a short distance away, is barren. Well 4 produces from the upper sand
only; and well 3 from both the upper and lower sands.

Figure 5.32 Asymmetric Anticlinal Fold Along the Flanks of a Major Uplift

Figure 5.33 illustrates how greater accumulations petroleum may be found on the
basinward side of an anticline. Note the difference in the level of the edge-water
lines on the opposite flanks of the anticline.
All anticlines are long narrow domes in the sense that they are closed structures.
However, domes are usually spoken of as closed structures in which the length
does not exceed three times the width.

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Figure 5.33 Dome Structure, illustrated in plane view by the structure contours and by the
vertical sections through the major and minor axes

Domes may be formed by intrusions of igneous rock or salt from below.

Figure 5.34 Typical Salt Dome Deposit

Oil accumulates in the porous formations above and on the flanks of the salt core.
A monocline is formed when the crest of an anticlinal fold is eroded away and a
partial cross section of the rock strata is exposed as an outcrop.

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Figure 5.35 Simple Monoclinal Structure

The shallow well, number 1, produces heavier, more viscous oil than number 2
owing to evaporation of the lighter constituents at the outcrop. Well 3 encounters
edge water.
Oil that has migrated to the surface is lost; however, as it accumulates on the
Earths surface, the lighter fractions evaporate leaving a residue of asphaltic-like
material. This residue will plug the pore spaces in the rock and prevent further
loss. Such surface indications of a bituminous nature have resulted in the
discovery of many important oil reservoirs.
Faulting will many times place a permeable strata against a shale strata. If
conditions are favorable for petroleum accumulation, the oil would be trapped at
the fault line. Faults may also allow migration of petroleum from stratum to
stratum across fault lines where the permeable beds are adjacent.

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Figure 5.36 Faulted Anticlinal Arch

This figure illustrates oil accumulation on both the upthrown and downthrown
sides of a fault and show how faulting may leave barren places in an anticlinal
structure. Wells 1, 3, and 4 are productive; whereas well 2 encounters edge water;
and well 3 intersects the fault plane.
The sealing of tilted, eroded beds by deposition of new sediments form favorable
traps for oil accumulation in the older rocks against an unconformity. In other
cases, the oil might migrate across the unconformity and ultimately be trapped in
beds not related to those in which the oil was originally stored.

Figure 5.37 Accumulation of Petroleum Against an Unconformity

The impervious stratum at the base of the upper series prevents the escape of the
oil. Oil seeks out and accumulates in lenses of porous sands imbedded in dense
less porous rock strata. Most sedimentary rocks are laid down at or near the shore

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line so the channels or lenses of sand would be roughly parallel to the shore lines
of the period in which they were formed.

Figure 5.38 Accumulation of Petroleum in Sand Lenses

Lenses of coarse sand embedded oil bearing shales serve as local centers of
concentration. Such conditions are common in California fields. Well A
encounters four zones of production; whereas well B is barren.

Figure 5.39 Accumulation of Petroleum in a Buried Coral Reef

Another important trap generally referred to as a stratigraphic trap occurs from


irregularities in bedding and to some extent on structural conditions. A lateral
variation of porosity or a pinching out of a porous strata between two
impermeable beds will provide favorable conditions for segregation and
accumulation of petroleum.

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In some regions porous coral limestone has been formed in relatively shallow
water and subsequently covered by impermeable strata. Gravitational segregation
of the oil, gas and water results in the oil and gas migrating to the upper portion of
the reef. Local variations in porosity also determine the areas of accumulation of
oil and gas. Sediments adjacent to and above coral reefs usually dip slightly away
from the reef due to differential compaction of sediments accumulating on the
sloping surfaces.

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Sample Examination
Introduction

Chapter 6

Sample Examination
6.1 Introduction
An accurate sample description is the basic function of geologic work - the
foundation on which the entire structure of subsurface analysis rests. This manual
has been assembled in an effort to furnish a convenient reference on standard
stratigraphic procedures. Techniques of collecting, preparing, examining, and
describing well cuttings and core samples are set forth.
At one time the primary responsibility of the surface data logger was to provide
correlation for structural mapping, now it has become increasingly important for
him to also provide stratigraphic data. The source, transporting medium,
environment of deposition, and post-depositional history of the sediments all can
be determined by sample examination. There are two elements are involved: (1)
logging what is physically present in the samples, and (2) interpretation of the
geologic history from the material in the samples.
A description can become so detailed as to obscure important characteristics of
the samples; the surface data logger should learn to be selective and report only
the important details. Sample analysis should be made carefully and attentively.
The accuracy of a study is dependent upon the quality of the samples and the
proficiency of the surface data logger. Careful initial examination and description
of the samples will save time and prevent the necessity for re-examination. There
will be times when it is impossible due to well conditions for the surface data
logger to accomplish this the first time. It is more important that the samples be
caught first.
There are two general methods of sample description and logging, the interpretive
system and the percentage system. The interpretive log is preferable but its
accuracy depends in some measure on the quality of the samples, and the surface
data loggers familiarity with the local stratigraphic section of the area. Sloughed
cuttings must be disregarded, and only the lithology felt to be represent the
interval drilled is to be logged. If several different rock types are present in the
sample, all are assumed to be derived from the drilled interval, they are logged as
discrete beds, interbeds, intercalations, lenses, or nodules, rather than as
percentages. The interpretation in this case is based on the surface data loggers
knowledge of the area. On interpretive logs, lithologic contacts are drawn sharply,
and the entire width of the log column is filled with the suitable lithology plot
types. Two hazards in this form of logging are unexpected recurrence of lithologic
types and wildcat wells where there are no lithologic histories available for
comparison.

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