An Emerging Hydrocarbon Province – Lebanon (Part 2 of 6)

Lebanon-Anticlines

Constrained, multi-measurement (Grav, Mag, EM) 2-D structural and stratigraphic cross-section running E-W in onshore Lebanon showing basement-driven structural highs in the Triassic and Paleozoic intervals.

We continue our Lebanon neoBASIN project series, this time, taking a look at some large, basement-driven  structural highs that have been identified in the Triassic and Paleozoic intervals in the survey area.

Our highly constrained, multi-measurement methodology for developing these types of 2-D cross-sectional models is covered elsewhere (you might review our MMI 101 narrated slideshow (click here) or read our 2014 Marcellus case study from URTeC (click here) if you want a richer refresher.

In a nutshell, we develop these models by evaluating the response of actual acquired multi-physics geo-data (in this case, gravity, magnetic and EM resistivity measurements), making certain assumptions about the thickness and physical properties (density, magnetic susceptibility, and resistivity) of key intervals, and iterating until the model converges with all acquired data and with any other constraints we might have, such as outcrop, well or seismic (which we didn’t have in this case) information.

In the image above, you’ll note that we determined that there were some topographic highs in the basement (the red interval) and that these basement-involved features affected the younger intervals deposited above them – in particular, the Paleozoic (green) and Triassic (purple) horizons.  Faults were mapped with other datasets, in particular magnetic but also EM.  To learn more about the importance of basement topography, faulting and composition in hydrocarbon exploration, read our article in E&P.

These fault-bounded structural highs were seen in other parts of the survey area as well.  In many cases, interpretations of the acquired Grav-Mag and EM datasets suggest that these features continue ‘into and out of the page’, thereby creating elongated anticlinal structures that could be intriguing exploration targets.

Now if only NEOS had some seismic imaging capabilities to further delineate the vertical and lateral extent of these anticlinal structures (???), but I digress…

In Part 1 of this series, we described the presence of oil seeps on the surface, in many cases, concentrated along faults and juxtaposed stratigraphic intervals outcropping on the surface.  If the seeps were generated from Paleozoic or Triassic source rocks, what are the odds  that some of the hydrocarbons became trapped in structures like these as they migrated towards the surface?

In an upcoming post, we’ll share some intra-horizon resistivity anomalies that indicate an increase in interval resistivity in structures similar to the ones highlighted here as one moves up the geologic column.

An Emerging Hydrocarbon Province – Lebanon (Part 1 of 6)

Oil & Gas Fields of the Levant and Eastern Med.  6,000 sqkm Lebanon neoBASIN project area highlighted in black.

Oil & Gas Fields of the Levant and Eastern Med. 6,000 sqkm Lebanon neoBASIN project area outlined in black.

Greetings followers of NEOS.  There’s a really interesting oil & gas exploration story developing in a new frontier hydrocarbon province – of all places, in Lebanon!  I know, you probably are as skeptical reading this today as I was when our project started about a year ago.  But there is cause for hope in the Levant!

Our story will unfold over six chapters in six weeks – think of it as an addition to your summer reading list, with a nice nod to exploration geoscience.  Check back every Monday for the latest installment – our current publication schedule is as follows:

  • 20 July – Pervasive evidence of hydrocarbons on the surface
  • 27 July – Large anticlinal structures in the Triassic
  • 3 August – Read our feature article in OilVoice
  • 10 August – Resistivity anomalies in Cretaceous structural closures
  • 17 August – Onshore exploration opportunity – stacked plays
  • 24 August – Watch our finale narrated slideshow

When this project started, I was a big skeptic about Lebanon’s hydrocarbon potential.  After all, not a single well is currently in production in Lebanon; and only seven – all onshore – have ever been drilled in the country’s history.

Yes, Lebanon is surrounded by oil & gas fields – most notably, the huge discoveries that have been made in recent years in the Eastern Mediterranean.  But that is a totally different hydrocarbon system and most explorationists didn’t believe it extended into onshore Lebanon.  Were they right…or do they need to reconsider?  Or do the onshore oil & gas fields in Syria and to Lebanon’s south serve as better analogs?

Answers to these questions – and others – will hopefully be unlocked as our story unfolds.

Let’s start with one of the most compelling chapters in the story – the evidence of pervasive indirect and direct hydrocarbon indicators on the surface.  These were mapped over the survey area (noted in the black polygon in the figure above) using hyperspectral imaging technology.

The image below shows where our analysis of the hyperspectral data revealed either mineral alteration zones (which we classify as indirect hydrocarbon indicators, as the alteration of minerals on the surface may be caused by the micro-seepage of hydrocarbons throughout the course of geologic time) or oil seeps and trace oil mixed into the soil (which we classify as direct hydrocarbon indicators).

Direct and indirect hydrocarbon indicators are pervasive in the study area.  Certain areas (empty white boxes) omitted at the request of the project underwriters.

Direct and indirect hydrocarbon indicators are pervasive in the onshore Lebanon neoBASIN project area. Certain areas (empty white boxes) omitted at the request of the project underwriters.

You can’t have a frontier exploration play unless one has a source rock  that at some point found itself in the hydrocarbon generation window.

The fact that we have these IHIs and DHIs in large quantities throughout the survey area – and, to foreshadow a future chapter in this story, over fault-bounded anticlinal structures in the subsurface – is very encouraging indeed!

This first bit of evidence grabbed my attention and got me wondering if I might need to reconsider my first impression – I hope it’s grabbed yours as well.

If you’d like to learn more about our Lebanon project, you can (click here) to access posts on this blog or (click here) to view the Lebanon neoBASIN program page on our web site.

Friday Fun: Nike’s ‘Short a Guy’ Commercial

 

A fun, high-energy Nike ad featuring a host of celebrity athletes.  Courtesy of NEOS Corporate Marketing.

When Geos Hit the Road: Myanmar

This summer our geoscientists (aka: Geos) are sharing highlights from recent travel adventures. Some adventures were purposefully planned around our Geos true passion – geology, while other adventures came from [happily] veering off course to see and explore the new world and geology around them.

Matt and Josh recently had the unique opportunity to visit mysterious Myanmar, where they presented a technical paper at a conference in Yangon. They spent a few days exploring the city of Yangon, meeting many interesting people in the Asia-Pacific region and learning a great deal about the local geology and Central Burma Basin. Then they ventured out for a few days to the awe-inspiring remote ancient temples of Bagan.

Myanmar's long history as a gold producer can be seen in its elaborate and beautiful temples.

Myanmar’s long history as a gold producer can be seen in its elaborate and beautiful temples.

The historic city of Bagan, located in the heart of Myanmar's Central Burma Basin, a popular basin for hydrocarbon exploration.

The historic city of Bagan, located in the heart of Myanmar’s Central Burma Basin, a popular basin for hydrocarbon exploration.

Many of the temples in Myanmar are decorated with Christmas-style lights creating this really interesting juxtaposition between old and new.  Here they are dangling from one temple building looking at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

Many of the temples in Myanmar are decorated with string lights creating this really interesting juxtaposition between old and new. Here they are dangling from one temple building looking at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.

The once mighty Irrawaddy River was the dominant driver for deposition of organic matter during the formation of hydrocarbon bearing formations.

The once mighty Irrawaddy River was the dominant driver for deposition of organic matter during the formation of hydrocarbon bearing formations.

When Geos Hit the Road: San Juan River

This summer our geoscientists (aka: Geos) hit the road and combine a little R&R time with their true passion – geology. We’ve asked NEOS Geos to share some of their treasured photos from recent adventures.

Today we take a peek into Mark’s recent trip to Utah’s Lower San Juan River and his 84-mile kayaking journey, as well as a side trip to a notable Utah national park. In addition to the spectacular views and history of this region, the San Juan Basin is noted for its large deposits of natural resources, including natural gas and coalbed methane.

Mark’s trip coincided nicely with NEOS’s current program in the San Juan Basin.

Flowing through lands the Anasazi Indians once inhabited, the San Juan River offers kayakers cultural, as well as geologic history.

Flowing through lands the Anasazi Indians once inhabited, the San Juan River offers kayakers cultural, as well as geologic history.

 

Artifacts from the 1928 San Juan No.1 well in Soda Basin.

Artifacts from the 1928 San Juan No.1 well in Soda Basin.

 

Puebloan ruins are common along the San Juan River, as well as numerous petroglyph panels.

Puebloan ruins are common along the San Juan River, as well as numerous petroglyph panels.

 

Arches National Park’s  ‘rock fins’ created from erosion of the Earth.

Arches National Park’s ‘rock fins’ created from erosion of the Earth.

 

The stunning Partition Arch in Arches National Park located near Moah, Utah.

The stunning Partition Arch in Arches National Park located near Moah, Utah.

When Geos Hit the Road: India

Those of us who are geoscientists (or “Geos”), or just those of us who “hang with” them, know that Geos like to hit the road, both on and off the beaten path, to discover.  Sometimes these adventures are intended geo-focused trips, other times they’re a welcome distraction. We’ve asked some NEOS Geos to share some of their treasured photos from recent global adventures.  With summer just kicking into gear, these shots will inspire you to get planning, and get out there!

Geoscientist, Maggie recently ventured to India for a wedding yet could’t help but be enthralled by the sandstone landscape and volcanic beds, as only a true “Geo” would be in northwestern India.

A note from Maggie, “I was primarily in India to attend a wedding (in Mumbai), but I decided to visit longer and check out India. We decided to go to Rajasthan, a state in northwestern India , which is well known for the Thar desert, beautiful forts and palaces, history, and for being colorful (both in Architecture and dress). We spent ~10 days there, traveling by train (and uhh… camel).”

A close-up shot of the Mehrangarh Fort. Fun fact: The fort itself is made of Jodhpur Sandstone. But at the base of the fort is a contact with PreCambrian volcanic beds (some of the oldest rocks in India). It’s actually a National Geologic Monument (which I didn’t know until I got back to the US!)

A close-up shot of the Mehrangarh Fort. Fun fact: The fort itself is made of Jodhpur Sandstone. But at the base of the fort is a contact with PreCambrian volcanic beds (some of the oldest rocks in India). It’s actually a National Geologic Monument.

View of Mehrangarh Fort and momument to Jodha Ji (the man who founded the city). Also has a good view of those volcanic rocks

View of Mehrangarh Fort and momument to Jodha Ji (the man who founded the city). Also has a good view of those volcanic rocks

Overlook of Jaisalmer, “The golden city”. All the buildings are made of sandstone and many are ornately sculpted.

Overlook of Jaisalmer, “The golden city”. All the buildings are made of sandstone and many are ornately sculpted.

Hanging out with my camel, “Tiger”. We are in the Thar desert.

Hanging out with my camel, “Tiger” in the Thar desert.

Summer Reading List: The Sheltering Sky

ShelteringSkyMy 10th grade English teacher turned me on to the world of flowing elegant prose.  By exposing the thirty or so teens in her class to a variety of great authors, dissecting their similarities and differences, and encouraging us to copy their styles (in order to find our own individual ‘voices’), she helped us to gain a deep appreciation and love for writing that, in my case at least, stays with me to this day.

In my opinion, The Sheltering Sky is one of the greatest pieces of modern literature I’ve ever come across (thanks AJ!).  It reminds me in style somewhat of Hemingway, only with a much deeper layers of character development and storytelling complexity.  I think this reviewer on GoodReads sums it up best:

The thing I love about Bowles is he brings a composer’s mind to writing. His novel isn’t propelled forward by a strong plot (although it has plot) or attractive characters (none of the characters are very attractive), but the music of his language alone pushes and pulls, tugs and compels the reader page after page. It felt very much like I was floating limp and languid in Bowles prose as his hypnotic sentences washed over me and drifted me slowly toward the inevitable end.

The Sheltering Sky was included in both Time magazine’s and The Modern Library’s ‘100 Best’ lists of literature in the 20th century.  It may not be the most uplifting of tales, but it is certainly one of the most beautifully written.

Summer Reading List: The Sixth Extinction

6thExtinctionWe’ll launch our summer 2015 reading list with The Sixth Extinction, one of the most profound books I’ve read in many years.  Framed in a layman-approachable style by New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction offers a series of global mini-case studies chronicling what many scientists believe will be the most devastating extinction event since the Yucatan asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly contracted.  The Sixth Extinction weaves together present-day field observations, evidence from the paleo-geologic rock record, and the best current thinking on evolutionary biology. Elizabeth travels around the world talking to some of the world’s leading scientists, drawing upon their direct, field-based observations of everything from frogs and birds in the Amazon to bats in the caves of the northeast.

The question to be resolved – has the emergence of human beings fundamentally altered the delicate balance among species and poised mankind on an unalterable path towards the sixth extinction?

It’s a compelling topic that the author – who won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for the book – addresses in a most thoughtful way.  I can’t think of a more appealing summer read for anyone with a geo-background or who simply reflects on the question, ‘where is all this heading’?

ExtinctionEvents

Friday Fun: Tour Subterranean Passageways


While at NEOS we image the subsurface, others must excavate to see what’s below the surface. 40 meters below London, a huge excavation initiative is currently underway for railway expansion in a project called the Crossrails Project. Watch this mesmerizing drone-captured video to get a glimpse at what 26 miles of quiet, eerie, space-like tunnels under bustling London look like.

A View from Space: Remote Sensing

In this blog series on publicly available data we have thus far looked closely at the value (and limitation) of satellite data. There currently exists more than 2,200 satellites orbiting the earth, many providing a steady stream of scientific data.

One might argue that the primary benefit of satellite data, at least in the case of oil and has exploration, is its ability to reach parts of the Earth, cost-effectively, that are otherwise too difficult to access or photograph, providing datasets of value to industry geoscientists.

High value can also come from remote sensing, which is the use of aerial photography [often satellites], combined with other methods to view that which cannot be seen by the unaided eye.

In this post we look more closely at airborne LiDAR remote sensing data available in the public domain. Just like satellite data, there are limitations to this data as well as great value.  In any case, our geoscientists are nonetheless able to generate many of the same interpretive products you need to explore using this, and other publicly available data, including:

  • Assessments of basin-scale geologic trends
  • Maps of basin architecture and regional structure
  • Maps of key lineaments, regional fault systems, and intrusions
  • 2-D and 3-D structural and stratigraphic models
  • Maps of basement topography, faulting and composition
  • Assessments of relative acreage prospectivity derived using predictive analytics.

Read on to understand how remote sensing data plays a roll in multi-measurement interpretation.

LiDAR_PA

LiDAR DSM (Digital Surface Model) taken over Pennsylvania

Remote Sensing

What is it/How is it used: LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a publicly available airborne remote sensing technology that collects 3-D point clouds of the Earth’s surface and is used for high resolution digital elevation models (DEMs). The system works by illuminating a target with a laser scanner, the reflected light produces values that are then integrated with other on-board systems and recorded.

Value: The airborne data from LiDAR is at a high resolution and can detect subtle topographic features such as fault interpretations, lineament interpretations, or surface changes over time.

Limitations: LiDAR data availability and cost vary from state to state in the USA.  Some states offer LiDAR data free.  Therefore, despite a high resolution product, availability is extremely limited.

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