Fractures and Facies of the Marcellus Shale

Course Details

This field trip compares the Marcellus Shale along a transect from distal, organic-rich condensed mudstone facies to proximal silty-shale facies.  At each stop, we discuss various aspects of mudstone evaluation including the application of sequence stratigraphy; organic and inorganic geochemistry and their use for understanding depositional environments; and structural aspects of mudstones, including the pervasive sets of systematic joints hosted by the Marcellus Shale. Moreover, these geological aspects are discussed as they relate to the life cycle of an unconventional reservoir, from exploration to drilling and completions, and finally production. This course also takes the time to focus on the grey shale facies of the overlying Hamilton Group. We will discuss examples of dynamic stratigraphy in shale dominated successions including the intermittent occurrence of reservoir quality black shale, and the expansion of stratigraphic sections over short distances. Finally, we will look at horizontal and vertical permeability pathways in the form of pyritic lag deposits flooring and within black shale facies, and gas chimneys associated with hydrocarbon generation.

Who Should Attend

• Geologists • Geophysicists
• Petrophysicists
• Engineers

This course is designed for those who wish to understand the methods used to apply geologic analyses of organic-rich mudstones to exploration, development, drilling, completions, and production.

Need more information?

    Course Outline

    Day 1

    You will arrive the day before at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga, New York. The health-Safety-Environment briefing, orientation to the field, an overview of the field trip. We will focus on the grey shale dominated succession of the Hamilton Group, specifically the Ludlowville and Moscow Formations. In the morning we will discuss rapid changes in stratigraphic thickness over short distances, submarine erosional discontinuities, and the mechanical integrity of grey shale deposits. 

    In the afternoon we will discuss the faunal assemblages of these deposits, and the dynamic stratigraphy inherent to grey shale successions. Specifically, we will discuss the presence of pyritic beds, what they suggest about bottom water anoxia, and their stratigraphic relationships with organic-rich facies.

    Day 2

    The morning will consist of a driving tour of Letchworth State Park with stops at various overlooks. The park is created around the northeast/southwest trending gorge cut by the Genesee River through Upper Devonian strata. The drive includes scenic vistas and a number of waterfalls. 

    The afternoon will be spent visiting distal facies deposits of the Marcellus Shale. We will first see the type section of the Oatka Creek Formation (upper Marcellus Shale) followed by the Cherry Valley Limestone-Oatka Creek Shale-Stafford Limestone-Levanna Shale succession. Discussions will include the lithostratigraphy of the Marcellus Shale Subgroup, formation and occurrence of carbonate concretions, and systematic joint sets.

    Day 3

    We will make a stop at the Wood’s Quarry, the type section of the Union Springs Formation (lower Marcellus Shale), followed by a stop in Marcellus, NY, and the type section of the Marcellus Shale Subgroup. Discussions will include the sequence stratigraphy of the Marcellus Shale.

    In the afternoon will look at the Cherry Valley Limestone, and the fossiliferous Pecksport Shale, a relatively proximal facies of the Marcellus Shale. Here we will discuss the chemostratigraphy of the Marcellus Shale, and how we can apply these datasets to better understand seemingly homogeneous shale deposits. 

    Day 4

    In the morning we will visit one of the best exposures of the Cherry Valley Limestone, very near to its type section of Cherry Valley, New York. We will discuss depositional environments, sequence stratigraphy, and discuss its famous assemblage of large fossil cephalopods and the implications for bottom water anoxia in the black shale facies.

    In the afternoon we will look at proximal, often fossil-bearing facies of the Stony Hollow Member of the Union Springs Formation. In outcrop, we are afforded an opportunity to view a slightly more proximal facies of the deposits observed in the subsurface of the northeastern Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale gas fields.

    Day 5

    We will begin the day with a casual hike through Robert H. Treman State Park. The park features beautiful waterfalls and gorges often controlled by the presence of catagenic fractures extending from deeper black shale facies up through overlying siltstone and shale of proximal Middle Devonian Strata.

    Our last stop will be a casual walk to the 214-foot tall Taughannock Falls. Along the way, we will see a world-class example of a gas chimney overlying the Geneseo Shale. We will discuss these features and how they might connect large stratigraphic intervals and what that means for staggered and stacked laterals in multiple target zones.

    This course is offered in the fourth week of September every year and costs $7000/person. This all inclusive rate includes five nights hotel stay, all meals, snacks and drinks in the field, fuel, permits, transportation during the field trip, tuition and field guide.

    If you would like to see the instructor in action, click here

    Visas for the US typically take 1-2 months to process therefore we recommend contacting us as soon as possible so we can send you a letter of invitation that you can take to your local US consulate. 

    Our location

    Our headquarters are twenty minutes away from downtown Denver and half an hour from the largest core facility in the United States. Or field office in Ouray allows us quick access to world-class outcrops in Utah and New Mexico.