Sequence Stratigraphy of Unconventional Resource Plays

Course Details

Course Description

This course is designed for geoscientists that work or intend to work on unconventional resource plays. Systematically the course introduces participants to the basic sedimentology of unconventional reservoirs and then covers sequence stratigraphic applications. It is assumed that participants already have a working knowledge of sequence stratigraphy and are familiar with sequence analysis on core and well-logs. We do not recommend this as a first-time introduction to sequence stratigraphy and strongly urge you to enroll in the Applied Sequence Stratigraphy course first.

Due to the homogeneous nature and limited thickness of most unconventional resource plays, seismic has very limited applicability. Therefore this is not a Seismic Stratigraphy course and the bulk of our time will be investigating these reservoirs using well logs (including borehole image logs), core and thin-sections. Each day of the course will be devoted to one play type with case-studies from popular oil and gas fields within North America.

The instructor will provide a small collection of well logs and core photos, but we strongly urge participants to bring paper copies of their own data to work on. These data will not be shared with anyone and the instructor will only review the work done by participants.

The course is divided into 4 days of lecturing and a 1-day core workshop on unconventional resource plays. Usually we use the Bakken and Three Forks Formations to illustrate the practice of sequence analysis, if however all participants happen to work a different play type, we will be glad to arrange the last day’s workshop to better suit your learning objectives.


This is an upper level, work-intensive course that assumes participants have a background in sequence stratigraphy, seismic stratigraphy and sedimentology of clastic and carbonate reservoirs. The audience for the course includes geologists, geophysicists and reservoir engineers who are involved in creation of geomodels and horizontal well planning for geosteering. The goal presents several examples of sequence stratigraphic applications in unconventional reservoirs

Course Outline

Day 1

Review of key-surfaces, systems tracts and models. Identification of the Maximum Flooding Surface, Maximum Regressive Surface, Subaerial Unconformity, Basal Surface of Forced Regression, Regressive Surface of Marine Erosion, Shoreline Ravinement Diastemic, Shoreline Ravinement Unconformable, Wave Ravinement Surface, Tide Ravinement Surface, Flooding Surface, Local Flooding Surface, Within Trend Flooding Surface, Downlap Surface, Within Trend Forced Regressive Surface, Within Trend Normal Regressive Surface, Surf Diastem, Turbidite Shelf Entrenchment Surface.


The Tight-Gas sandstones of the Cretaceous Mesa Verde group are used to illustrate the identification and usage of these surfaces.

Day 2

Deepwater Carbonate Sequence Stratigraphy - implications for unconventional reservoirs in the Permian Basin (Wolfcamp, Bone Springs and Spraberry).


Shallow-marine Carbonate Mudrocks - Examples from the Bakken, Three Forks and Niobrara

Day 3

Introduction to Shale Sequence Stratigraphy


Introduction to evaporites and sequence stratigraphic controls on their precipitation. Sequence stratigraphy in mixed evaporite-carbonate-siliciclastic and mixed carbonate-siliciclastic successions. Examples from the Paradox Basin.

Day 4

Application of high-resolution sequence stratigraphy to well-log correlation (workshop). Participants will be provided a series of seismic data, well-logs, core and biostratigraphic data. Using these they will create facies associations and interpret depositional environments. They will then use these data to create a sequence stratigraphic model and 2 cross-sections that show parasequences. They will then select the most suitable algorithms to create a geomodel for this field.


Continuation of exercises

Day 5

Core workshop (Bakken and Three Forks) at the Denver USGS - if this course is run outside the US then the final day focuses on client projects.

Question and answer session.

This course is scheduled from Aug 31st - Sept 4th in Denver, Colorado. The version taught in Denver includes a 1-day core workshop on the sequence stratigraphy of unconventional resource plays.