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Exploring the Central Utah Thrust Belt Using a Multidisciplinary Approach

Bate, Duncan J.1; Kilner, Ben 1; Watson, Jonathan 1; Pinnell, Mike 2; Wood, Greg 2
1 ARKeX, Houston, TX.
2 Chief Oil and Gas, Dallas, TX.

A great deal of interest has been generated in the Central Utah Thrust Belt (CUTB) since the discovery of the Covenant field by Wolverine gas and oil in 2003, when a 487 ft thick oil column was encountered in the Navajo Sandstone. This discovery proved the hydrocarbon potential of the area.

Many structural targets exist between the Covenant field and the analogous production to the North. However, the area is structurally complicated and the cost of seismic data is high due to difficult terrain and permitting issues. The geological complexity of the area and sparse data coverage means that this remains a challenging place to explore for hydrocarbons. In order to explore effectively in the CUTB, detailed geological information is needed which either can be integrated with the existing 2D seismic data or used to target further data acquisition (2D/3D seismic).

In 2007 ARKeX Ltd in conjunction with JEBCO Seismic conducted an airborne geophysical survey using BlueQube technology at a location near Richfield in central Utah, along the CUTB Line. The main objective of the survey was to provide a 3D image of the anticline along which the Covenant field was discovered. This was the first phase of an ongoing project to collect high resolution airborne geophysical data in the area (BlueQube data comprises of, Gravity Gradients, Magnetic, LiDAR and digital video).

The BlueQube data acquired by ARKeX provide essential information about:

The location of the axis of the anticlinal structure

The depth of the fold and the presence of structural highs

The lateral continuity and quality of prospect (closure)

The occurrence of horizontal offsets

Heterogeneities in the shallow levels (Arapien and volcanics)

As the pilot phase of this project was successful an additional 1300 sq mi of data has been collected, primarily during the fall of 2008. Following the acquisition of the BlueQube data an integrated workflow was designed that included all acquired and third-party data available.

It has been identified that no one data set can provide sufficient information to easily explore for Navajo structures along the CUTB. Shallow volcanics, heterogeneity in the Arapien, difficult terrain and seismic imaging problems all mean that a multi-disciplinary approach is necessary. The application of BlueQube technology has demonstrated that areas of interest can be identified for further exploration and with additional geophysical constraint prospects identified/evaluated.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90090©2009 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, June 7-10, 2009