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Petroleum systems of the northern Gulf of Mexico: Phase I
Green Canyon and Ewing Bank

Our first large industrial research consortium studied the geology of northern Green Canyon and Ewing Bank, offshore Louisiana, from June 1992 to May 1996. Initial work on this consortium began in November 1990, when Bob Graebner at Halliburton made the seismic database available to Roy Kligfield and Paul Weimer. During 1991 and early 1992, Kligfield and Weimer developed the infrastructure necessary to conduct the consortium by purchasing the proper software and hardware, writing the research proposal to solicit petroleum company support, and hiring additional expertise.

The research consortium had three original purposes: (1) to study sequence stratigraphy, salt tectonics, and their interaction in the Green Canyon and Ewing Bank area, (2) to develop a close working relationship between the University of Colorado and the petroleum industry, and (3) to generate student research projects, As the consortium acquired more data sets, biostratigraphic and petroleum systems studies were added to the project, along with two additional research scientists (Tomas Villamil, Claudia Arango).

Two PhD theses were generated (Barry McBride, Peter Varnai), and 7 MS degrees (Zurilma Acosta, Fadjar Budhijanto, Barrett Dixon, Alfonso Garcia, Rafael Martinez, Alonso Navarro, Gerard Soto). Three research scientists were employed: Claudia Arango (1 year), Mark Rowan (4 years), Tomas Villamil (2.5 years).

Supporting companies: Agip, Amoco, Anadarko, BHP, BP, Burlington Resources, Chevron, CNG, Conoco, CXY, Enterprise, Exxon, Marathon, Mobil, Occidental, PanCandian, Pennzoil, Petrobras, Phillips, Shell, Texaco, Total, Union Pacific, Unocal. 

Software sponsoring companies: CogniSeis, GeoQuest, Landmark, Platte River Associates, Zeh Graphics

Seismic data companies: Halliburton, Western

Biostratigraphic data: PaleoData, Inc.

Details of the research results are included in the 1998 AAPG Bulletin, and are listed at the bottom of this page.

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Location of study area, Northern Green Canyon, Ewing Bank, and southernmost South Additions, northern Gulf of Mexico. (Click to enlarge)

Structure contour map (in time) of the top salt or equivalent salt weld. The salt system is characterized by large topographic relief, with different levels of salt either separated by overhangs or connected by ramps in the salt weld. (Click to enlarge)

Student Theses

PhD Degrees

MS Degrees

Selected References

Additional Publications

American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin (May 1998) 

Gulf of Mexico Petroleum Systems

The May 1998 AAPG Bulletin consists of two issues. The second issue is titled "Gulf of Mexico Petroleum Systems" and is dedicated entirely to the research done here at EMARC in our first Gulf of Mexico research consortium, from June 1992 to May 1996.  Listed below are the references, abstracts and a few  figures from each paper.

Additional copies of this issue of the Bulletin can be purchased from the AAPG (www.aapg.org)

Cover figure:  Seismic chair display of northern Green Canyon (northern Gulf of Mexico) showing distribution of the Bullwinkle reservoir (yellow amplitude) and boreholes from two producing wells. View is to the northeast. East of the reservoir are two prominent allochthonous salt stocks that formed from an evacuated salt sheet. Strata consist of Pliocene and Pleistocene bathyal turbidite systems deposited in intraslope mini-basins. Image is voxel-based, 3-D seismic cube displayed in VoxelGeo (courtesy of Paradigm Geophysical, formely CogniSeis Development). 3-D seismic data are courtesy of Halliburton (now Western Geophysical). Figure by Robert Ratliff, Paul Weimer, and Barry McBride.

Weimer P., M. G. Rowan, B. C. McBride, and R. M. Kligfield

Evaluating the Petroleum Systems of the Northern Deep Gulf of Mexico Through Integrated Basic Analysis: An Overview: AAPG Bulletin, v. 82, no. 5b, p. 865-877

The geologic setting for the northern Green Canyon and Ewing Bank region of the northern Gulf of Mexico is described. The following eight papers demonstrate how the petroleum systems of this region can be analyzed using an integrated approach.

Weimer, P., J. R. Crews, R. S. Crow, and P. Varnai

Atlas of the Petroleum Fields and Discoveries in Northern Green Canyon, Ewing Bank, and Southern Ship Shoal and South Timbalier Area (Offshore Louisiana), Northern Gulf of Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, v. 82, no. 5b, p. 878-917

This paper illustrates the seismic stratigraphic and wireline-log expression of the producing turbidite systems of 35 discoveries/fields, and some of their production statistics.

Weimer P., P. Varnai, F. M. Budhijanto, Z. M. Acosta, R. E. Martinez, A. F. Navarro, M. G. Rowan, B.  C. McBride, T. Villamil, C.  Arango, J. R. Crews, and A. J. Pulham

Sequence Stratigraphy of Pliocene and Pleistocene Turbidite Systems, Northern Green Canyon and Ewing Bank (Offshore Louisiana), Northern Gulf of Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, 82., no. 5b, p. 918-960

This paper systematically describe the sequence stratigraphy of the Plio-Pleistocene sediments in the study area. They show how temporal and spatial changes occurred in sedimentation in the basin, where major sands were deposited, and present a model of how sands are deposited in these sorts of basins.

Villamil T., C. Arango, P. Weimer, A. Waterman, M. G. Rowan, P. Varnai, A. J. Pulham, and J. R Crews

Biostratigraphic Techniques for Analyzing Benthic Biofacies, Stratigraphic Condensation, and Key Surface Identification, Pliocene and Pleistocene Sediments, Northern Green Canyon and Ewing Bank (Offshore Louisiana), Northern Gulf of Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, v. 82, no. 5b, p. 961-985

This paper presents three biostratigraphic concepts that help in basin analysis: how the accuracy of correlations can be evaluated through graphic correlation, how estimates of the paleobathymetry of the basin can be improved by integrating paleoecology with lithostratigraphy and palinspastic restorations, and how biostratigraphic condensation changes throughout one mini-basin in 3-D and 4-D.

Varnai P.

Three-Dimensional Seismic Stratigraphic Expression of Pliocene-Pleistocene Turbidite Systems, Northern Green Canyon (Offshore Louisiana), Northern Gulf of Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, v. 82., no. 5b, p. 986-1012

This paper interprets the sequence stratigraphy of three mini-basins using a sub-regional 3-D seismic data set, and demonstrates the evolution of turbidite systems  throughout a 2.4 million year time interval.  This 3-D interpretation allows for far greater definition of the turbidite elements than the regional stratigraphic study.

McBride B. C., M. G. Rowan, and P. Weimer 

The Evolution of Allochthonous Salt Systems, Northern Green Canyon and Ewing Bank (Offshore Louisiana), Northern Gulf of Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, v. 82., no. 5b, p. 1013-1036

This paper uses several 2-D structural restorations to illustrate how the salt changes geometry through time, how the supra-salt sedimentary basins develop and change through time, and how rates of these processes vary.

McBride B. C.

The Evolution of Allochthonous Salt Along a Megaregional Profile Across the Northern Gulf of Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, v. 82., no. 5b, p. 1037-1054

This paper shows a structural restoration of mega-regional profile from northern (updip) edge of the salt basin (onshore Louisiana) to the southern (down dip) edge (Sigsbee Escarpment).  The restoration shows how the province evolved through time, illustrating the changing position of salt features, the different structural/stratigraphic provinces on this profile, and the various timing of emplacement of salt sheets.

Rowan, M. G., and P. Weimer

Salt-Sediment Interaction, Northern Green Canyon and Ewing Bank (Offshore Louisiana), Northern Gulf of Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, v. 82, no. 5b, p. 1055-1082

By integrating the results of the detailed sequence stratigraphic and structural studies, this paper documents the interaction between salt and sedimentation, and the relative influences and interaction between the two can be inferred.

McBride B.C., P. Weimer, and M. G. Rowan

The Effect of Allochthonous Salt on Petroleum Systems of Northern Green Canyon and Ewing Bank Areas, Northern Gulf of Mexico, AAPG Bulletin, v. 82, no. 5b, p. 1083-1121

This paper shows that by integrating all of the previous studies with thermal maturation modeling, a comprehensive analysis of the petroleum systems can be made, with special emphasis on the timing of peak generation of source rocks, the determination of which areas receive concentrated petroleum flow through time, which in turn controls the development of major petroleum accumulations.

Dixon, B. T., and P. Weimer

Sequence Stratigraphy and Depositional History of the Eastern Mississippi Fan (Pleistocene), Northeastern Deep Gulf of Mexico: AAPG Bulletin, v. 82, p. 1207-1232

This paper describes the evolution of the Pleistocene Eastern Mississippi Fan in the northwest deep Gulf of Mexico.  This fan is coeval to the larger Western Mississippi Fan, and reflects deposition in the unconfined deep basin, in contrast to the turbidite systems deposited in the intraslope basins.