--> Abstract: Facies Models and Concepts Developed from Shell's Houston Laboratory in the 1950s and 1960s, by Robert N. Ginsburg and James L. Wilson; #90914(2000)

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Robert N. Ginsburg1, James L. Wilson2
(1) University of Miami, Comparative Sedimentology Laboratory, Miami, FL
(2) Consultant, New Braunfels, TX

Abstract: Facies Models and Concepts Developed from Shell's Houston Laboratory in the 1950s and 1960s

In the decades following World War II, the search for stratigraphic traps by petroleum companies inspired major advances in facies models. Soon after the War, programs of research and training were established by Amoco, Cities Service, Esso/Humble, Gulf, Mobil, Marathon, and Shell. At the same time, these companies provided support for extra-industry, individual and group projects ranging from a comprehensive program on the nearshore sediments of the Gulf Coast to the classification of carbonates. The central theme of all this research was the emphasis on developing models and concepts from the study of recent sediments and testing them on outcrops and in the subsurface.

Shell’s Houston Laboratory contributed significantly to these advances. From the group researching siliciclastics came pioneering concepts of facies succession to identify depositional environments and the use of log response to identify facies as well as models of deposition for barrier islands and meandering streams. In carbonates, research on modern sediments combined with study of Paleozoic and Mesozoic examples led to a standard facies zonation, facies models of tidal flat deposits and ooid sands, and the anatomy of reefs and other buildups. All these and other insights were transmitted through training and regular assignments to geologists, geophysicists and engineers in operations.

The success of this program in Shell Development Company, resulted from a combination of far-sighted financial investment, freedom of inquiry for researchers and the challenge of convincing colleagues and managers in operations that understanding facies had application to exploration and production.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90914©2000 AAPG Annual Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana