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The Trenton Formation: Why Aren’t We Doing Something About It in Illinois?



Centennial Geoscience, Inc., Buffalo, NY


     The Trenton Formation is a prolific producer of oil and gas throughout the eastern United States and Canada. In 2001, 34 Trenton wells in New York accounted for an estimated 12 BCF of gas. Over its lifetime, the Lima-Indiana trend has produced an estimated 500 million barrels of oil. At Albion-Scipio Field in Michigan, the Trenton-Black River has produced over 150 million barrels of oil from a depth of about 4,000 feet. In southwestern Ontario, the Trenton is responsible for more than 75% of the province’s oil and gas production.

     These examples are compared to the Illinois Basin. First, analogous basin-forming histories can be drawn between the Illinois and Michigan Basins. Second, similar stratigraphic assemblages exist in all of the above-mentioned productive Trenton areas. Third, Trenton production has been established in Illinois, although thus far only along a few structural crests. Despite these facts, there has been very little exploration for Trenton reservoirs in Illinois, despite the obviously favorable comparisons to the geology of other basins in the East that do produce from Trenton/Black River rocks.   

     Integrating geologic and geophysical data, especially geologic mapping of the Precambrian surface, is an important component in the search for Trenton reservoirs. Geologic and/or geophysical data from some of the above Trenton-producing areas will be shown to document successes elsewhere, and encourage future exploration in Illinois.