2010 RMS-AAPG Meeting

Field Trips

on this page:
Trip 1 - The Pennsylvanian Hermosa Formation, from Shelf to Basin

Trip 2 - San Juan Basin Gas Fields and Reservoirs

Trip 3 - Geologic Overview of the Western San Juan Mountains

Trip 4 - Detection and Mitigation of Methane Seeps along the Fruitland Outcrop, New Technology from the San Juan Basin

Trip 5 - Eolian Reservoir Analogs

Field Trips Chairpersons send email
Chip Head
David Gonzales

Pre-Convention Field Trip 1:
The Pennsylvanian Hermosa Formation, from Shelf to Basin

Dates: Friday, June 11 through Saturday, June 12
Leaders: Gary Gianniny (Dept. of Geosciences, Fort Lewis College), Kim Miskell-Gerhardt (Consulting Geologist) and Scott Ritter (Dept. of Geological Sciences, Brigham Young University)
Itinerary: Leave Durango on June 11 from Circle Drive (near the College Union Building) on FLC campus at 7:30 am returning at 4:00pm to transfer to a tour bus for the trip to Bluff. Secure luggage storage is available in the College Union Building. Drinks and lunch will be provided on Friday, and we will stop for dinner in Cortez while driving to Bluff. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided on Saturday. We return to Durango around 8pm on the 12th.
Fee: $345 double occupancy in Bluff / $385 single occupancy in Bluff. Prices increase to $370 / $410 after May 15th (includes transportation, Friday lunch through Saturday dinner, lodging in Bluff, Utah, raft trip on San Juan River from Bluff to Mexican Hat and guidebook)
Limit: 33 Participants
Sponsors: RMS-AAPG Foundation and Black Hills Exploration and Production
 
Trip Description: This is a two-day trip comparing Pennsylvanian strata on the SE (active) margin of the Paradox Basin with deposits of equivalent age on the western (stable) margin. Recognition of reservoir facies and the correlation of outcrop units to producing intervals in the subsurface will be addressed. On Friday we will travel from north to south along the scenic Hermosa Cliffs Trend bounding the Animas Valley, north of Durango, Colorado. We return to Fort Lewis College that afternoon and board a tour coach to drive to Bluff, Utah. On Saturday we will float the San Juan River from Sand Island to Mexican Hat. We return to Durango that evening.

View to north of Hermosa Cliffs with
Engineer Mountain in distance.

Day 1: The Hermosa Cliffs expose a 15-km long, dip-oblique transect from the upper shelf to the upper slope of the Paradox Basin. At updip field stops we will examine transgressive fluvio-deltaics and highstand carbonates. We will trace geometries along the cliffs using binoculars and photo pans, recognizing progradational sequence sets. At the downdip locations, we will see basinally-restricted evaporites, and the appearance of thick, black, fissile, calcareous shale. Based on biostratigraphic control, this exposed section is equivalent to the upper Akah through lower Honaker Trail subsurface production intervals. Using this data and outcrop gamma ray, we will discuss correlations from here to the nearest Pennsylvanian well logs on the rim of the SJ Basin, and from there into the shale-gas play area near Dove Creek.

View to east of San Juan River emerging from Raplee
anticline. Mexican Hat in foreground.

Day 2: On day two we float through spectacularly folded Permian and Pennsylvanian strata to see the coeval rocks on the western side of the Paradox basin, which outcrop along the San Juan River. We will visit the classic exposures of both source (Hovenweep and Gothic Shales) and reservoir facies (phylloid algal bioherms) that form the 1.35 BBO Aneth oil field in the Lower Ismay and Desert Creek intervals on this margin. Anhydrite, formed during lowstands in the Akah and now acting as a seal, is also present along the river. Besides facies recognition, discussion in this section will focus on the sequence stratigraphic setting and scale of evaporite-carbonate reciprocal sedimentation. As we float out of Raplee Anticline through younger strata, participants will also see the grain-rich carbonates, and eolian clastics of the Honaker Trail Formation, and rhyzolith channel-fill conglomerates in the Permian Halgiato Formation loessites.
 
What to bring: For Day 1 you will need shoes suitable for short walks on uneven terrain, a handlens, binoculars, sunglasses, sunscreen, a camera and a daypack. June weather is normally hot and dry, but be prepared for cool, windy conditions as well. For the float trip you will need all the above plus river shoes, quick-drying clothes and a small drybag to hold your raingear and personal items.
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Pre-Convention Field Trip 2:
San Juan Basin Gas Fields and Reservoirs

Date: Saturday, June 12, 2010 from 8:00am to 6:00pm
Leaders: Dr. Donald Owen (Department of Earth & Space Sciences, Lamar University)
Charles Head (ConocoPhillips)
Itinerary: Leave Durango on June 12 from Circle Drive (near the College Union Building) on FLC campus at 8:00 am. Check-in time is fifteen minutes prior to departure to receive a guidebook and other registration materials. Drinks and lunch will be provided, and we will return to Durango at 6:00 pm.
Fee: $130. Price increasese to $155 after May 15th (includes transportation, lunch, Navajo Nation permit and guidebook)
Limit: 30 participants
Sponsors: Four Corners Geological Society and RMS-AAPG Foundation
 
Trip Description: This 200 mile traverse of the Four Corners includes stunning landscapes of the surrounding high desert and Southern Rockies, with emphasis on the world-class San Juan Basin Gas Field. Cretaceous and Tertiary reservoirs and landforms provide backdrops for discussing the history of exploration and development, stratigraphy, and the hydrocarbon system of the basin.

Dakota Sandstone, White Rock Mesa Member, at Red Wash, N.M.:
fluvial strata with isolated channel above coal with white tonstein parting.
The trip begins in Durango with an overview of the local geology before proceeding into New Mexico and the heart of the San Juan Basin. Stops at Chaco Wash and Red Wash on Navajo Nation land will provide opportunities to examine outcrops of Upper Cretaceous Tocito and Dakota reservoirs, with correlations to analogous hydrocarbon-producing intervals. Igneous landmarks such as Shiprock, Beclabito Dome and the Sleeping Ute Laccolith will be seen on the return to Colorado, where Mesaverde reservoirs dominate the skyline. The final portion of the route skirts the southern edge of the La Plata Mountains before arriving in Durango from the west.
 
What To Bring: Hiking boots or shoes suitable for short walks on uneven terrain. June weather is normally hot and dry, but be prepared for cool, windy conditions as well. Bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera and a daypack.
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Pre-Convention Field Trip 3:
Geologic Overview of the Western San Juan Mountains

Date: Sunday, June 13th, 2010. From 9:00am to 3:00pm
Leader: Dr. David Gonzales (Department of Geosciences, Fort Lewis College)
Itinerary: Leave Durango on June 13 from Circle Drive (near the College Union Building) on the FLC Campus at 9:00 a.m. Check-in time is fifteen minutes prior to departure to receive the guidebook and other registration materials. We will have lunch at or near Silverton, and return to Durango by 3:00 pm.
Fee: $85. Price increases to $110 after May 15th (includes transportation, lunch and guidebook)
Limit: 22 participants
Sponsors: Four Corners Geological Society
 
Trip Description:
California Mountain, in San Juan Volcanic field,
just north of Silverton, Colorado.
The 50-mile drive from Durango to Silverton winds over high passes with panoramic views of precipitous mountain ranges and canyons along the western edge of the San Juan Mountains. Along this route there is a blend of spectacular scenery, varied biological communities, historic mining areas, and a vast geologic record that spans 1800 million years. This one-day field trip will explore the general geology and evolution of mountain ranges in the region. This trip will begin in Durango and travel to historic Silverton along the geographic boundary between the Southern Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau. Stops along the way will highlight the geology and key moments in the history of this region.
 
What To Bring: We will drive to various locations where discussions will then be held. Walking will be limited to short hikes on maintained roads and trails. Weather conditions in the San Juan Mountains in June can be quite variable and unpredictable. Be prepared for any type of weather. Bring a hat, jacket, gloves, water, sunscreen, hiking boots or good walking shoes, sunglasses, and a camera.
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Post-Convention Field Trip 4:
Detection and Mitigation of Methane Seeps along the Fruitland Outcrop, New Technology from the San Juan Basin

Date: Thursday, June 17, 2010. From 8:00a.m. to 6:00p.m.
Leaders: Bill Flint and Kyle Siesser (Southern Ute Indian Tribe), Karen Spray (Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission) and Chris Carroll (Colorado Geological Survey)
Itinerary: Leave Durango on June 17 from Circle Drive (near the College Union Building) on FLC campus at 8:00 am. It is suggested that check-in time be fifteen minutes prior to departure to receive guidebook and other registration materials. Drinks and lunch will be provided, and we will return to Durango at 6:00 pm.
Fee: $130. Price increasese to $155 after May 15th (includes transportation, lunch, Ute permit and guidebook.)
Limit: 26 participants
Sponsors: Four Corners Geological Society and RMS-AAPG Foundation
 
Trip Description:
Coal tongue in
Fruitland Formation.
The Cretaceous Fruitland Formation in the northern San Juan Basin has been the target of coalbed methane production since Amoco Production Co began exploring the coal beds in 1975 and drilled the first CBM well at Cedar Hill in 1977. Methane seeps along the Fruitland outcrop have increased coincident with increased drilling, dewatering and gas production in the basin. Although migration pathways between gas wells and outcrop seeps are still a matter of great debate, the volume of methane being lost has spurred both industry and regulators to try to capture the resource for economic benefit. On this field trip participants will visit three areas along the outcrop to observe methane seeps, new mitigation technologies and the sedimentology and stratigraphy of the Fruitland Formation.

The first stop will be at Cinder Buttes, on the southwestern rim, on Southern Ute tribal lands. A prehistoric, underground coal fire in this region, in combination with down dip gas production (preceded by dewatering coal beds), has increased methane seepage at the surface. In 1998 the Colorado Geological Survey (CGS) and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe (SUIT) mapped the extent of coal outcrops and seeps. In 2009 the SUIT remapped methane seeps using new airborne infrared detectors. A "picket fence" system of interceptor wells now gathers methane before it reaches the outcrop and redirects it into a pipeline for use.

Bubbling methane seep in the
South Fork of Texas Creek.
Along the northern rim, historic seeps in the Pine River Valley and adjacent tributaries increased in volume in 1996, killing vegetation and causing the abandonment of two homes. The BLM and La Plata County established a baseline study of seep volume along the outcrop in 1997. Today, the COGCC is testing shallow gas collection systems in two locations. These are essentially reverse French-drain systems overlain by vapor barriers. One is powering a microturbine electrical generator that is sending electricity to the LPEA grid. Green fields have replaced barren dirt. The COGCC has also installed a network of shallow monitoring wells in the Fruitland Formation along the outcrop to detect changes in formation pressure. This data will be used to predict changes in seepage at the outcrop.

The final stops will be in Archuleta County near Yellowjacket Guard Station and in Cabezon Canyon. Here the CGS will discuss their recent outcrop mapping of Fruitland coal beds and seeps in advance of a new phase of drilling. This work was contracted by COGCC. Stratigraphic features include lateral accretion surfaces and the truncation of middle Fruitland coals as well as major progradation overlying a transgressive Fruitland Tongue.

 
What To Bring: Hiking boots or shoes suitable for short walks on uneven terrain. June weather is normally hot and dry, but be prepared for cool, windy conditions as well. Bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a water bottle, a camera and a daypack.
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Post-Convention Field Trip 5:
Eolian Reservoir Analogs

Dates: Wednesday, June 16th to Thursday, June 17th
Leaders: Katy Duncan-Benitez (Seismic Micro-Technology) and Dr. Gary Gianniny (Dept. of Geosciencs, Fort Lewis College)
Itinerary: Leave Durango on June 16 from Circle Drive (near the College Union Building) on FLC campus at 1:00 pm. Please check-in fifteen minutes prior to departure to receive a guidebook and other registration materials. Secure luggage storage is available in the College Union Building. There will be a group dinner on Wednesday night and drinks, snacks, and lunch will be provided on Thursday. A hotel stay in Moab is included and we will return to Durango around 6:00 pm June 17th. Leave Durango on June 16 from Circle Drive (near the College Union Building) on FLC campus at 1:00 pm. Please check-in fifteen minutes prior to departure to receive a guidebook and other registration materials. Secure luggage storage is available in the College Union Building. There will be a group dinner on Wednesday night and drinks, snacks, and lunch will be provided on Thursday. A hotel stay in Moab is included and we will return to Durango around 6:00 pm June 17th.
Fee: $235. Price increases to $260 after May 15th (includes transportation, Wednesday dinner, Thursday lunch, park permit and guidebook)
Limit: 47 participants
Sponsors: Four Corners Geological Society
 
Trip Description:
Permian Cedar Mesa Formation in
Canyonlands National Park.
This trip is a two-day excursion to examine dune and inter-dune facies within the Permian, Cedar Mesa Formation in Canyonlands National Park. The North American Permian sand sea that is now the Cedar Mesa sandstone consists of interbedded and intertonguing eolian, fluvial and lacustrine strata. Although dominated by thick, eolian sandstones, the formation also contains soils and ponds that formed when the water table was high, or when floods filled the topographic lows between emergent dunes. Many productive petroleum reservoirs are located in eolian sandstones. Coeval pond lithologies and dune interaction zones may inhibit or enhance production in these reservoirs following burial and diagenesis. The stops and hikes within the park will focus on the geometric distribution of groups of ponds, and how these barriers and baffles might complicate production in analogous fields.

The drive over on Wednesday will skirt the eastern margin of the Paradox Basin. From Durango we take the scenic route north through Cortez and Dove Creek, with views of the LaPlatas, the Abajos and Sleeping Ute Mountain. We will stop to discuss regional geology near Monticello, then continue north through red rock country to Moab, alongside the stunning La Sal Mountains. An overnight stay in Moab, with dinner at the Moab Brewery, will give us an early start into Canyonlands National Park on Thursday.

Salt-induced faulting and subsequent weathering of Pennsylvanian and Permian strata dominates the drive down into the canyons, while the presence of the Colorado and Green Rivers, and their tributaries, create beautiful overlooks. Once inside the park, the alternating white and red-colored sandstones of the Cedar Mesa Formation dominate the views and offer endless trails and canyons to explore. After a day of hiking and examining the Cedar Mesa we will head back to Durango.

 
What To Bring: Hiking boots or shoes suitable for short walks on uneven terrain. June weather is normally hot and dry, but be prepared for cool, windy conditions as well. Bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a camera, a water bottle and a daypack. No pets are allowed and collection of rocks and other natural resources is prohibited in the National Park (no rock hammers in the park).
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