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Microfracture Control of Oil and Gas Production Detected by Low-Altitude Multispectral Remote Sensing, Burning Springs Anticline, West Virginia

Bruce Robert Moore

The Burning Springs anticline is a classic anticlinal structure that has produced oil and gas consistently over many years. Original production was almost assured by drilling the pay zones directly on the structure. In recent years, production has dwindled and drilling has become more selective. It had also become obvious that there is a strong fracture control of porosity and permeability.

A new low-altitude remote-sensing method will detect microfracture patterns through soil and vegetation cover and can target the fracture intersections, which are primary targets for hydrocarbon-soil gas testing. The lighter hydrocarbon fractions preferentially leak through the fracture system and can be detected at sample sites selected along the microfractures. These results are combined with multispectral analysis of the imagery for vegetation anomalies produced by the escaping hydrocarbons to delineate drilling targets. The method has a near perfect success record.

The microfractures cannot be detected using visible-band air photos or imagery from Landsat, Thematic Mapper, or other sources. The new system is capable of producing very high-resolution imagery with the special wavelength distribution required for analysis of these small-scale fractures through soil and vegetation cover.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91031©1988 AAPG Eastern Section, Charleston, West Virginia, 13-16 September 1988.