Innovative Methodology for Detection of Fracture-Controlled Sweet Spots in the Northern Appalachian Basin
Robert Jacobi, John Fountain, Stuart Loewenstein, Edward DeRidder, Bruce Hart
For two consecutive years, 2004 and 2005, the largest natural gas well (in terms of gas flow/day) drilled onshore USA targeted the Ordovician Trenton/Black River (T/BR) play in the Appalachian Basin of New York State (NYS). Yet, little data were available concerning the characteristics of the play, or how to recognize and track T/BR prospects across the region. Traditional exploration techniques for entry into a hot play were of limited use here, since existing deep well logs and public domain
... eismic were almost non-existent. To help mitigate this problem, this research project was conceived with two objectives: 1) to demonstrate that integrative traditional and innovative techniques could be used as a cost-effective reconnaissance exploration methodology in this, and other, areas where existing data in targeted fracture-play horizons are almost non-existent, and 2) determine critical characteristics of the T/BR fields. The research region between Seneca and Cayuga lakes (in the Finger Lakes of NYS) is on strike and east of the discovery fields, and the southern boundary of the field area is about 8 km north of more recently discovered T/BR fields. Phase I, completed in 2004, consisted of integrating detailed outcrop fracture analyses with detailed soil gas analyses, lineaments, stratigraphy, seismic reflection data, well log data, and aeromagnetics. In the Seneca Lake region, Landsat lineaments (EarthSat, 1997) were coincident with fracture intensification domains (FIDs) and minor faults observed in outcrop and inferred from stratigraphy. Soil gas anomalies corresponded to ENE-trending lineaments and FIDs. Nand ENE-trending lineaments were parallel to aeromagnetic anomalies, whereas E-trending lineaments crossed aeromagnetic trends. 2-D seismic reflection data confirmed that the Etrending lineaments and FIDs occur where shallow level Alleghanian salt-cored thrust-faulted anticlines occur. In contrast, the ENE-trending FIDs and lineaments occur where Iapetan rift faults have been episodically reactivated, and a few of these faults extend through the entire stratigraphic section. The ENE-trending faults and N-striking transfer zones controlled the development of the T/BR grabens. In both the Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake regions, we found more FIDs than Landsat lineaments, both in terms of individual FIDs and trends of FIDs. Our fused Landsat/ASTER image provided more lineaments, but the structural framework inferred from these lineaments is incomplete even for the fused image. Individual lineaments may not predict surface FIDs (within 500m). However, an individual lineament that has been groundtruthed by outcrop FIDs can be used as a proxy for the trend of intense fracturing. Aeromagnetics and seismic reflection data across the discovery fields west of Keuka Lake demonstrate that the fields terminate on the east against northerly-striking faults that extend from Precambrian basement to, in some cases, the surface; the fields terminate in the west at N-and NW-striking faults. Seismic and well log data show that the fields must be compartmentalized, since different parts of the same field show different histories of development. T/BR fields south of the research area also terminate (on the east) against northerly-trending lineaments which we suggest mark faults.