Teach the Earth > Sedimentary Geology > Teaching Activities > Using Computer Spatial Technologies (Geoplus Petra) for Subsurface Geological Analysis

Using Computer Spatial Technologies (Geoplus Petra) for Subsurface Geological Analysis

Dave Barnes
Western Michigan University
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jul 10, 2006


The lab project is a culminating activity (following work with conventional core and petrophysical logs) in which the students compile a subsurface "project" using computer spatial technology software, Geoplus Petra. The project emphasizes the utility of spatial data, petrophysical logs, and the application of sedimentologic and stratigraphic concepts to the analysis of a real oil field. The project results in a stratigraphic analysis and visualizations of an oil producing deltaic succession and prediction of the subsurface geology in the field area.

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Lab activity (extra credit using computer software) for undergraduate Sedimentology and Stratigraphy Class and also as a more extensive projects for a Graduate Clastic Depositional Systems class.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Basic depositional systems concepts, introduction to petrophysical log analysis, computer literate with quantitative data software (spreadsheets and the like).

How the activity is situated in the course

Last lab exercise, this is an extra credit option (instead of work with paper copy and colored pencils) for students with the time, motivation, and basic computer literacy in spatial technologies (e.g. GIS)


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Subsurface, sedimentary facies-oriented stratigraphy; basic petrophysical log analysis; correlation and visualization; use of spatial and quantitative geological data for subsurface geological analysis.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Integration of quantitative digital data; analysis of petrophysical logs for lithologic attributes; apply stratigraphic models to small (oil field) scale stratal geometric characteristics; synthesis of geometric and lithologic properties to facies models; visualization of stratal geometry.

Other skills goals for this activity

Develop an understanding of quantitative and spatial geological data and application to sedimentologic and stratigraphic analysis and visualization. Use these skills to predict the subsurface geology and gross rock properties of an oil reservoir. Applicable to any fluid reservoir (water, oil/gas, waste disposal, etc.

Description of the activity/assignment

The student compiles oil field well data, including spatial locations and digital well logs, for analysis of subsurface, oil reservoir stratigraphy and lithology using computer spatial technologies software, Geoplus Petra. The students create well log cross sections, make lithologic picks, construct structure and isopach maps, and evaluate lithologic properties, including gross reservoir quality from petrophysical logs. These data are used to interpret depositional environment of the subject formation and make predictions for well bore perforations for oil production. The key value of the exercise is an introduction to the use of computer software to analyze geological data, guided by sedimentologic and stratigraphic insights, and make predictions for resource exploitation.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Turn in cross sections, maps, and make predictions of perforation points in oil field wells.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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