Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Unconventional Resources

Depositional Processes, Fabrics and Stratigraphic Framework of Mudrocks: Applications to Shale Reservoirs (Colorado and Wyoming, USA)

Course Code: N241
Instructors:  Jeff May
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
5 days


 Business Impact: Participants will describe mudrock cores, develop familiarity with the range of depositional processes in shale basins and correlate shales in outcrop and well logs using a sequence stratigraphic framework. These skills will enhance thier ability to evaluate the resource potential of shales. 

This course utilizes cores, outcrops and well logs to examine and interpret the heterogeneity of fine-grained depositional systems.

Duration and Training Method

This is a five-day field course consisting of outcrop visits with field exercises supplemented by classroom sessions and a core workshop. The ratio of field time to classroom/core viewing is approximately 70/30.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Evaluate similarities and differences among lithologically diverse shale systems.
  2. Characterize heterogeneity within fine-grained units.
  3. Assess the range of depositional processes in shale basins.
  4. Develop an understanding of the controls on composition and fabric in mudrocks.
  5. Perform descriptions of mudrocks in core.
  6. Formulate interpretations and correlations of shales in outcrop and well logs utilizing a sequence stratigraphic framework.
  7. Judge key factors that contribute to a successful shale resource play.

Outcrops, cores and well-logs provide exposure to the extensive diversity in mudrock systems. Emphasis is placed on understanding the basic principles of deposition and stratigraphy of fine-grained deposits. Numerous hands-on exercises reinforce these concepts and demonstrate their applications to the evaluation of mudrock reservoir properties and assessment of wellbore targets.

Itinerary (subject to change)

Day 0

  • Travel to Golden, CO
  • Evening introductory lecture, safety briefing and group dinner
  • Overnight in Golden, CO

Day 1

  • Morning classroom lecture
  • Afternoon examination of Graneros, Greenhorn and Niobrara Shales in outcrops near Pueblo, CO
  • Overnight in Golden, CO

Day 2

  • Core workshop, US Geological Survey, Denver, CO
  • Overnight in Golden, CO

Day 3

  • Examine Niobrara outcrops near Boulder, CO and Niobrara and Mowry outcrops near Douglas, WY
  • Overnight in Casper, WY

Day 4

  • Examination of a complete Mowry outcrop section near Alcova Reservoir
  •  Evening well-log workshop
  • Overnight in Cody, WY

Day 5

  • Examination of Mowry outcrops at Potato Ridge (Greybull) and Buffalo State Park near Cody, WY
  • Overnight in Cody, WY

Day 6

  • Fly out of Cody, WY

The course is appropriate for all geoscientists and engineers who are engaged in exploration and/ or exploitation of shale resources. Although the course is designed for experienced participants, those with less experience should also benefit from this course.


Jeff May

Jeff has worked in the oil and gas industry for over 30 years: as a research geologist with Marathon Oil Company (1981-1994); as a geological and geophysical consultant with Enron Oil & Gas (1994-1996) and GeoQuest Reservoir Technologies (1996-1998); as an exploration geoscientist with DDD Energy (1998-2001); and with EOG Resources (2001-2011), first as Chief Stratigrapher and most recently as Chief Geologist.

Jeff’s work has entailed sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy from outcrops, cores, and well logs, plus seismic stratigraphic studies of basins and fields worldwide. Areas of expertise include onshore and offshore Gulf of Mexico; onshore and offshore California; Uinta, Green River, Washakie, Denver, Powder River, and Williston Basins; northern and eastern Egypt; and Natuna Sea, Indonesia. At EOG, he provided regional to prospect-scale stratigraphic interpretation and evaluation plus training in support of all divisions. Jeff also conducts a variety of classroom and field seminars on clastic facies, deep-water sandstones, mudrock deposition and stratigraphy, and sequence stratigraphy, most notably for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Nautilus, and many universities. In addition, he has published numerous papers and abstracts on deep-water sandstones, sequence stratigraphy, and geophysical interpretation.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD Rice University - Geology
MSc Duke University- Geology
BA Earlham College - Geology

Courses Taught
N046: Submarine Canyon, Channel and Slope Systems (California, USA)
N251: Well Log Sequence Stratigraphy: Applications to Exploration and Production
N241: Depositional Processes, Fabrics and Stratigraphic Framework of Mudrocks:  Applications to Shale Reservoirs (Colorado and Wyoming, USA)
N250: Evaluation Methods for Shale Reservoirs

CEU: 4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 40 Professional Development Hours
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.