Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Structure and Tectonics

A Structural Geology Toolbox for Geoscientists and Engineers (Virtual Outcrops)

Course Code: N563
Instructors:  Douglas Paton
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
3 days
5 sessions


Business Impact: All too often within Exploration and Production, the perception of structural geology revolves around estimating fracture distribution and fault transmissibility. Whilst this is important, structural geology concepts are critical to all elements of the workflow from basin screening, prospect generation, play fairway analysis, and reservoir modelling/production. It is essential, therefore, that all Petroleum Geoscientists and Engineers, regardless of their specialism, understand how structural geology impacts their workflows and the inherent uncertainties within them.

This course blends observations from global outcrops with seismic data across a range of scales to address the key structural concepts that all practitioners should be aware of. It covers the main principal structural styles present within petroleum basins with a focus on a) understanding the interdependency of E&P data across a range of scales and resolutions, b) interaction of structure with basin fill and reservoir distribution and c) impact of structures on imaging and modelling. Through group discussions, participants will develop their own discipline-specific toolbox from these concepts, which they can apply directly to their day-to-day workflows. In doing so, attendees will consider and discuss how structural concepts commonly provide a mechanism to facilitate a cross-disciplinary approach to the subsurface.

Duration and Training Method

This is a classroom or virtual classroom workshop comprising practical exercises using outcrop imagery and seismic data, supported by a series of short lectures and discussions.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:
  1. Appreciate how structures impact all elements of the E&P workflow.
  2. Establish a structural geology toolbox that is appropriate for non-structural geology specialists and workflows.
  3. Appreciate the importance of integrating observations at a range of scales (basin to prospect to reservoir).
  4. Recognise the limitations of geophysical imaging on structural interpretation and develop domain specific (e.g., geophysical interpretation, sedimentology, reservoir modelling) strategies to account for this uncertainty.
  5. Differentiate between pre, syn and post kinematic packages and understand the importance of applying these concepts to the interpretation and modelling of sub-surface data.
  6. Understand how different strategies and components of the toolbox, need to be employed to interpret data in extensional, compression, multi-phase, and salt-dominated settings.

The course content can be adapted live during the workshop and can be tailored to the requirements of individual participants or teams.

Each part of the workshop will develop a component of the toolbox that is applied to a specific structural style and setting to allow participants to explore setting-specific issues, as well as underlying generic concepts. The proposed general structure of the workshop is as follows:

What is structural geology and why it is much more than just fractures and fault seal?

The importance of application of structural geology across the Exploration and Production workflow. The interface of seismic interpretation, structural geology, reservoir distribution/integrity, and reservoir modelling.


What lessons can we learn by making muti-scale observations from rift systems to reservoir normal faults?


Just how much are we missing on seismic data and what impact does that have on geophysical interpretation and reservoir prediction?

Multi-phase deformation

Most settings have multiple phases of deformation. Why is it important to identify this and what impact does this have on geometry, fluid flow, and critical-stress on faults?

Just how complex can it get?

When salt plays a role in the basin or asset, the system can become more complex in 2, 3, and 4 dimensions. This session will bring together concepts developed through the workshop and consider how a structural tool box can be applied to complex subsurface scenarios.

Geophysicists, sedimentologists, petrophysicists, reservoir modellers, and petroleum engineers. Multidisciplinary team attendance would be highly beneficial.

Douglas Paton

Since 2020, Douglas has led an independent consulting company, TectonKnow, which has a focus on understanding and predicting hydrocarbon prospectivity in complex structural and tectonic settings utilizing the 25 years exposure to margins globally and includes the development of the Reclus database of global structures and tectonics.

Douglas investigated the role of basement structures on continental breakup and fault evolution in Southern Africa for his PhD at the University of Edinburgh and then worked as a Conoco-Phillips funded PDRA looking at the structural controls on fairway deposition in the Zeta area, Northern North Sea.

He then moved to GFZ Potsdam where he applied basin analysis concepts to petroleum system modelling in the Orange Basin and became interested in the long term evolution of margins from inception through to break-up. After Potsdam, he took up a Chevron sponsored Associate Research Professor position at the Colorado School of Mines in a research group focussing on structural controls on deep water clastic deposition.

Initially moving to Leeds as the BHP Billiton Lecturer in Structural Geology, which included research on the structural evolution of the Sinu Accretionary Prism. He subsequently was appointed Chair in Structural Geology and Basin Analysis where he ran an industry facing research consortium with a focus on a global understanding of structural geology, tectonics and basin analysis.

Dr. Paton’s research interests focus on the structural evolution and deformation of sedimentary basins.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD - The University of Edinburgh - Geology
BA - Department of Earth Science, University of Cambridge - Natural Sciences

Courses Taught
N218: Structural Controls on Deepwater Systems: Growth Structures and Minibasin Fill (Austrian Alps)
N556: Building the Structural Framework for a Reservoir Model
N575: From Sub-Seismic Faults to Rift Basins: Exploration, Appraisal, and Production Insights (Gulf of Corinth, Greece)
N657: Seismic Structural Interpretation Techniques
N717: Seismic Inputs and Structural Modelling Workshop


CEU: 2.1 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 21 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
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