Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Clastics

Clastic Reservoirs from Source to Sink: Low-Accommodation versus High-Accommodation Basin Settings (Wyoming, USA)

Course Code: N514
Instructors:  Cornel OlariuRonald Steel
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
5 days


Business Impact: This course facilitates deep discussions with technical experts about reservoir distribution and quality either in the context of exploration or production. Attendees will return to their workplaces with a more comprehensive and practical understanding of source to sink clastic sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy.

This field school allows participants to follow and track depositional environments from fluvial to shallow marine to slope and deepwater that were laid down in the Cretaceous Interior Seaway of North America (Sevier vs. Laramide). Wave, tide and fluvially dominated delta types will all be contrasted in an attempt to understand a wide spectrum of marine depositional processes including the development of hyper-pycnites.

When the Cretaceous Interior Seaway became broken by Laramide tectonics, the deepwater Washakie Basin developed in Southern Wyoming, and we can examine shelf-edge deltas as deepwater delivery systems. Further, slope channels can be observed in the field and afternoon exercises will be undertaken that allow the age equivalent basin floor turbidites to be mapped in detail.  Lectures on shelf edge deltaics and hyper-pycnites will augment the field work. This course is designed as a refresher on sequence stratigraphic principles and attendees will learn to describe and interpret key stratal surfaces and their sequence stratigraphic significance.

Duration and Training Method

This is a five-day field course in Wyoming with outcrop instruction (70%) supported by classroom presentations and exercises (30%). Exercises linking local well data to outcrops illustrate the subsurface applications of field observations. Attendees will work in teams on some exercises.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:
  1. Assess the sedimentology and stratigraphic architecture in fluvial, coastal plain, shallow marine, and deepwater slope settings (comparing wave, tidal and fluvially dominated deltas).
  2. Identify, evaluate and correlate key stratigraphic surfaces and parasequence stacking patterns in shoreline systems, and their use in exploration and production scales of investigation.
  3. Evaluate the bedforms, sedimentary cyclicity and sequence stratigraphic hierarchy at reservoir scales.
  4. Interpret the influences of tectonics, eustasy, and climate in creating stratigraphic architecture in marginal marine settings.
  5. Describe reservoir continuity in paralic depositional settings, based upon field observations.
  6. Use well log motifs as a valuable tool to differentiate delta top from shallow marine from slope to deepwater.
  7. Predict up-dip to down-dip and along strike facies changes in marginal marine and shelf edge settings and understand the significance of evolving paleogeography for reservoir presence and quality.
  8. Integrate the stratigraphic stacking patterns observed in the outcrops and wells in the correlation exercises to predict reservoir presence on the slope and basin floor and to cartoon potential trapping configurations in undrilled areas.


Outcrops, and subsurface well data will be used to illustrate facies types, depositional environments and stratigraphic architecture, allowing participants to correlate using key stratal surfaces.  Focus will be on the paralic depositional environments, with emphasis on the implications for the slope and the deepwater.  

Day 0

  • Travel to Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Optional group dinner.
  • Overnight in an hotel close to the airport for the first night.

Day 1: Introduction to the field area

  • Health and Safety Overview.
  • Introduction to the course.
  • Traverse the Wasatch Front en route to the field area.
  • Stratigraphy of the Interior Seaway.
  • View the Ericson Formation proximal fluvial deposits.
  • Overnight in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Day 2: Sedimentology of the Haystack Mountains Formation

  • Examine the detailed facies architecture of parasequences and test stratigraphic principals and concepts for dip and strike prediction of lithofacies and reservoir elements.
  • Discuss the implications of the observations and how they might impact production and exploration strategies.
  • Complete the progradational sequence by observing distributary channels and delta top facies.
  • Overnight in Rawlins, Wyoming.

Day 3: Fluvial, shoreline systems and incised valleys of Fox Hills Formation

  • A team based field exercise involving reservoir scale architecture of a shoreline complex that is capped by an incised valley complex.
  • Recognition of key facies in fluvial and shelf edge delta systems and understanding of the sequence stratigraphic hierarchy.
  • Evening lecture on shelf edge deltas and hyperpycnites.
  • Overnight in Rawlins, Wyoming.

Day 4: Characterisation of slope channels

  • Classroom exercises in the morning and field work in the afternoon.
  • Participants will interpret outcrop sections and integrate these in an inter-well scale correlation exercise.
  • Exercise focuses on correlation of sequences and clinoform geometries.
  • Field work comprises sedimentology and geometry of slope channels to understand conduits for sediment transport between the shelf and the deeper water.
  • Evening exercise to complete correlations.
  • Overnight in Rawlins, Wyoming.

Day 5: Characterisation of basin floor fans

  • Contour mapping exercise in the morning to complete the source to sink mapping and palaeogeographies.
  • Complete the exercise with a discussion of reservoir prediction, sequence stratigraphic controls on reservoir development and architecture.
  • Final field work and summary discussion about tectonic changes between basin fills (Sevier vs. Laramide).
  • Overnight in Saratoga, Wyoming.

Day 6

  • Drive from Saratoga, Wyoming, to Denver, Colorado, for afternoon flights home.

Exploration and development geologists and geophysicists seeking training in deltaic and shallow marine stratigraphy. Reservoir engineers seeking more information about sedimentological controls on reservoir behaviour and techniques in reservoir zonation. Asset Managers and Team Leaders responsible for exploitation of marginal marine clastic reservoirs. Even those with experience in these depositional environments will benefit from attending this course.

Cornel Olariu

Cornel is a Research Scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a lecturer teaching Sedimentary Rocks and Clastic Sedimentary Systems and a new tutor for RPS Training.

Cornel is PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas and has been a scientist with the National Institute for Research and Development on Marine Geology and Geo-ecology – GeoEcoMar in Romania before turning to academia in the US.

Research topics have been on clastic depositional systems with a focus on paralic depositional systems such as deltas evolution and architecture and source-to-sink projects involving large-scale, shallow to deep, basin margin evolution. Cornel has published over 70 scientific papers, and supervised MS and PhD graduate student research while at the University of Texas at Austin.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Texas at Dallas - Geosciences
MS University of Texas at Dallas - Geosciences
BSc University of Bucharest - Geology Engineering

Courses Taught
N514: Shelf Margin Shallow Marine Deltaics to Deepwater Turbidites: Sedimentology and Sequence Stratigraphy (Wyoming, USA)

Ronald Steel

Ron is a Professor at UT Austin (Emeritus from Sept. 2020) teaching Clastic Sedimentary Systems, Sequence Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis. Ron is also an Emeritus 6th-Century Professor at Aberdeen University, an Honorary Professor at Heriot-Watt University and a new tutor for RPS.

Ron is PhD from the University of Glasgow and has been Professor at the University of Bergen, University of Wyoming and The University of Texas, Austin. He was also Chief Geologist at Norsk Hydro in Bergen and Oslo.

Key research topics have been to gain an understanding of the time scales, sediment delivery by deltas and other mechanisms, sediment budget partitioning and growth styles of shelves and shelf margin sedimentary prisms. Ron has published over 200 scientific papers, edited 11 books and supervised some 200 MS and PhD graduate students in Norway and the USA.

Affiliations and Accreditation
BSc & PhD, University of Glasgow
Emeritus 6th-Century Professor, University of Aberdeen
Honorary Professor, Heriot-Watt University
Emeritus Davis Centennial Chair, Univesity of Texas, Austin

Courses Taught
N514: Shelf Margin Shallow Marine Deltaics to Deepwater Turbidites: Sedimentology and Sequence Stratigraphy (Wyoming, USA)
N520: Coastal, Deltaic and Shallow Marine Clastic Reservoir Characterisation

Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
RPS is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. We comply with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is recognised internationally as a standard of excellence in instructional practices.
We issue a Certificate of Attendance which verifies the number of training hours attended. Our courses are generally accepted by most professional licensing boards/associations towards continuing education credits. Please check with your licensing board to determine if the courses and certificate of attendance meet their specific criteria.