Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science - Geology



First Advisor

Dr. Julie Bloxson

Second Advisor

Dr. R. LaRell Nielson

Third Advisor

Dr. Mindy Faulkner

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robert Friedfeld


The Ordovician Utica shale play is rapidly developing throughout the Appalachian Basin. The play is a mixed carbonate-siliciclastic system that grades from primarily carbonates at its base in the Lexington/Trenton limestones into primarily shale within the Utica shale. As of January 2021, it is the third highest-producing dry shale gas play in the contiguous U.S., although it is known to produce wet gas and oil in various parts of the basin. In addition to being an unconventional reservoir, the Utica shale, an informal unit in Ohio where the main fairway is located, is a known source rock for much of the Paleozoic strata across the Appalachian Basin, including multiple lower Paleozoic sandstone and carbonate units. Although some data are available on this play, models that scale from well site through basin are not publicly available. The objective of this research was the production of a petrophysical reservoir model capable of reflecting the geology, geomechanics, and geochemistry across Columbian County, Ohio, and the surrounding area as a part of a larger effort to create a scalable model that will encompass the entire Utica shale Play. Well logs, X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), and total organic carbon (TOC) data were utilized to create a model in Interactive Petrophysics (I.P.) 2021. Seismic and core data within the area is sparse, therefore the Schmoker and Hester method was utilized to estimate TOC from the readily available well logs and then calibrated with the core data available.

Lithology changes in the study area appear to correlate with known fault trends, structural highs correlating with carbonate-rich siliciclastics or thickened carbonate platform, and siliciclastic poor or thin shale intervals. Areas with increased clay content are adjacent to these structural highs and correlate with increased levels of TOC, creating localized sub-basins, or "sweet spots," that are localized rather than extensive throughout the area. These appear to be depositional lows, potentially influenced by Proterozoic basement features and faults that would have been reactivated during the Taconic Orogeny. This study expands the current knowledge regarding the Utica shale by modeling the relationship between lithology, eustatic sea level changes, prevalence of organic material, and basin subsidence. These data will assist oil and gas developers with future hydrocarbon exploration and production.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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