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Regional Assessment of Carbonate Formations in the Appalachian Basin Using GIS: Application to Creating Gas Storage Caverns by Dissolution of Carbonate Rock

Brame, Scott E.1, James W. Castle1, David A. Bruce1, Ronald W. Falta1, Lawrence C. Murdoch1, and Donald A. Brooks2
1 Clemson University, Clemson, SC
2 DB Consulting, Millington, NJ

Assessment of the major Cambrian to Mississippian limestone and dolomite units in a portion of the Appalachian basin was performed to evaluate their suitability in developing gas storage capacity by a new method that uses acid to dissolve carbonate rock. Using GIS software a series of maps was produced from a large amount of data obtained from the geological surveys of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Databases were filtered manually and digitally, and then converted to a GIS format. Products created include structure contour maps, carbonate-interval isopach maps, and depth-to-top carbonate maps. The latter type of map was created because the depth to the top of each carbonate unit is one of the key suitability criteria for developing storage caverns using the new method. The depth map was constructed by subtracting the top carbonate surfaces from a digital elevation surface map of each state using map algebra techniques and was smoothed with neighborhood statistical methods, assuring that the well data were honored in the final map. In addition to the map-making capabilities of GIS, other advanced spatial analysis techniques were used to examine regional geologic trends and to determine the suitability of each carbonate unit for applying the new method of creating gas storage caverns. Proximity to pipelines, proximity to railroads (for acid delivery), and proximity to population centers were applied as ranking criteria for selecting the best potential sites for the new technology.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90031©2004 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, October 3-5, 2004