Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science - Geology



First Advisor

Dr. Kevin W. Stafford

Second Advisor

Dr. Wesley A. Brown

Third Advisor

Dr. Joseph Musser

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Melinda S. Faulkner


The Tuscaloosa Marine Shale (TMS) was deposited across southern Louisiana and Mississippi during the Upper Cretaceous. The study focuses on a core region containing vast deposits of Cretaceous-aged sediments that have economic importance for oil and gas exploration. This region has been conventionally drilled for decades, focusing on the recovery of the Cretaceous hydrocarbons. Explorers within this region had traditionally targeted the massive sand units of the Lower and Upper Tuscaloosa Group while neglecting the middle Tuscaloosa Marine Shale unit. With the onset of unconventional drilling technology, new explorers to the region have begun to delineate the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale’s capability for commercial production requiring a more detailed geologic investigation of how this area formed and what factors lend to the viability of this region. This study evaluated the geologic history and formation of the Tuscaloosa Group sediments within the core of the producing basin. Petrophysical logs were used to evaluate the complexity of the study area and the formations depositional features. The data from these logs were used to analyze the structure of the shale unit to develop structural maps of the Lower Tuscaloosa Formation and the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale.

The analyses of this study found that the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale exhibited a relatively stable deposition across the study area, consisting of sediments high in clay and mica content. The Tuscaloosa Group represents a full transgressive-regressive cycle directly influencing the deposition of a basal massive sand unit, followed by the deposition of marine shale on a large shelf environment capped with the deposition of sands as the ocean transgressed seaward. The Tuscaloosa Marine Shale was found to have localized depositional variance generated from regional tectonic events coupled with the influx of terrigenous sediments from multiple deltas contributing to the prograding oceanfront.

The study area yields high economic significance for further hydrocarbon exploration given the estimates of a seven billion barrel resource potential within the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale unit. New unconventional technology in the industry will allow for this area to be better delineated given the deeper depths to the shale unit and will allow for greater extraction volumes to occur. Studies similar to this report allow for petroleum explorers and others to gain the geologic insight needed in order to more accurately pinpoint target areas for new drilling to take place in an otherwise expanding region.

Creative Commons License

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



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