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History of Petroleum Geology: Insights from Concept Maps

Lanzarini, Wilson L.
[email protected]

Since the well drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania by 'Colonel' Edwin Drake, in 1859, the history of petroleum geology can be pointed out as a succession of concept maps. The first one represents the available knowledge at that time, probably concepts such as oil exudation, percussion rig, oil-to-saltwater relationship, the concept that the oil occurs in depth and pressure, as well as the incipient concepts related to petroleum geology. From this first concept map, other concept maps were constructed to represent the synthesis of knowledge of petroleum geology during the years 1900, 1920, 1950, 1980 and 2000/2010.

The concept of anticline emerged in the early twentieth century and guided the drilling of wells, now also with rotating drilling rigs. The well locations were based on the geologic maps to detect the structure and the target in the subsurface. In the 1920's, the well logging and seismic method provided a major advance in industry, as well as the development of models of structural and stratigraphic traps.

In the 1950's, the concepts of source rock and reservoir were continuously used. However, the concept of petroleum system was not yet available. In the 1980's, the play was based on the characteristics of the petroleum system, with its elements and its processes characterized by 2D and 3D seismic data, some seismic attributes and the new methods of well logging. The concepts of sedimentary facies and depositional system led to the development of predictive models based on rock. The paradigm for the origin and evolution of basins is the comprehensive concept of plate tectonics. The knowledge about reservoir geology has had great development.

In the 2000/2010's it is observed the development of a large number of concepts like geomechanics, basin and petroleum system modeling, stratigraphic modeling, 4D seismic, rock physics, digital rock, ultra-deepwater plays, pre-salt plays, oil and gas shale. The E&P industry is facing with growing challenges, and the petroleum geology is involving so many interdisciplinary concepts as shown by the process of conceptual mapping.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90166©2013 AAPG International Conference & Exhibition, Cartagena, Colombia, 8-11 September 2013