Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

A Reservoir Characterization Case Study for Sedimentary Geology

Academic journal article Journal of Geoscience Education

A Reservoir Characterization Case Study for Sedimentary Geology

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

We describe a multiple-week reservoir characterization lab for sedimentary geology that utilizes collection, analysis, and interpretation of outcrop and subsurface data on a fluvial unit that we use as an analog for a hypothetical hydrocarbon reservoir. Students conduct analyses of (1) sedimentary facies and structures, (2) stratigraphic surfaces, (3) porosity and permeability, and (4) gamma-ray logs using data they collect in the field and lab in addition to data available on the course web site. British Petroleum (BP) collected the dataset in the course of a research project, and subsequently donated it to the University of Oklahoma; accordingly, it is an extremely rich and entirely realistic dataset, yet is highly accessible and modular in nature. Field data are collected during a trip to the outcrop conducted in the first lab session; a virtual field trip using materials available on a CD (available from the authors) can be conducted by schools far afield of the outcrop site. In subsequent lab sessions, students analyze their field data in addition to data they examine in lab (thin sections, hand samples), and data available on the website (petrophysical mesurements). Ultimately, students synthesize their data and assess the character of fluid flow through the reservoir by considering lateral and vertical facies heterogeneity and the implications for reservoir behavior. Students individually collect and analyze most of the data, but orally present their synthesis in teams. This exercise allows students to hone their skills in field-data collection, and analysis and interpretation of a variety of real-world sedimentary geology data types, and provides the chance to integrate such data to address a realistic case study.

Key words:Education-geoscience; education-- undergraduate; geology-field trips and field study; geology-teaching and curriculum; petrology sedimentary; stratigraphy; subsurface geology.

ABSTRACT

Course management software allows instructors to introduce an Internet-based component to their classroom teaching even without any prior knowledge of HTML language. I used one of the most widely available software, WebCT, for two introductory geology classes of approximately 250 students each at Iowa State University in fall 2001. The software is easy to use and I established a variety of content and communication tools in less than a day, using the procedure described in the paper. Student responses to the use of WebCT were in general positive and they especially liked the opportunity to communicate with me, to keep track of their assignments with the "Calendar" tool, and to view their grades online. Students who earned good grades in the class are also the ones that made more extensive use of WebCT, especially with the "Discussion" tool. However, it cannot yet be demonstrated that the use of WebCT helps learning in a measurable way.

Keywords: Education - Computer assisted; Education - Undergraduate; Geology (general)

INTRODUCTION

Sedimentary strata comprise the majority of exposed rocks, they house significant resources, and they preserve records of Earth's so-called "Critical Zone" (NRC, 2001) -the near-surface environment housing the complex interactions that enable life. Study of sedimentary rocks can be exciting and relevant and should convey implications for both academic and applied pursuits. At times, however, sedimentary geology labs consist of disjointed exercises that cursorily treat aspects of the topic. To excite students about science and ultimately attract and retain them as geoscientists, they must experience the feeling that accompanies the analysis and integration of realistic data to address a relevant fundamental or applied problem.

Equally as important as course content in the education of future geoscientists is fostering critical thinking (Facione and others, 1995) and facilitating development of "scientific habits of the mind" (NSF 1996). …

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