Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Unconventional Resources

Fracture Architecture, Sedimentology and Diagenesis of Organic-rich Mudstones of Ancient Upwelling Zones with Application to Naturally Fractured Reservoirs (California, USA)

Course Code: N364
Instructors:  Richard BehlJon R. Schwalbach
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
5 days

Next Event

Location: California, USA
Date:  23 - 27 Jul. 2024
Start Time: 09:00 PDT
Event Code: N364a24F
Fee From: USD $12,350 (exc. Tax)


This course uses the Monterey Formation as a natural laboratory to understand the origin, distribution and physical properties of biogenic, organic-rich mudrocks as well as the relationship between mechanical stratigraphy and fracture distribution in layered rocks.

Business Impact: Application of the learnings of this course will empower participants to better distinguish types of siliceous, calcareous/dolomitic, phosphatic and organic-rich rocks and understand relationships between composition, diagenesis, bedding and fracture architecture to enhance prediction of reservoir properties.


This is one of the best courses I have taken. I think it is well organized and structured.


Event Code: N364a24F
Duration: 5 days
Instructors: Richard Behl, Jon R. Schwalbach
Dates: 23 - 27 Jul. 2024
Start Time: 09:00 PDT
Location: California, USA
Fee From
USD $12,350 (exc. Tax)
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Duration and Training Method

This is a field course, supported by classroom sessions in a 60:40 ratio. Classroom sessions will comprise presentations, case studies, exercises, and reviews of the fieldwork.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Judge factors that contribute to a successful unconventional resource play in thin-bedded, brittle, fine-grained rocks.
  2. Distinguish cherts, porcelanites, siliceous shales, diatomites, dolomites, calcareous and phosphatic mudrocks.
  3. Evaluate depositional setting and facies relationships of hemipelagic/pelagic sediments and their paleoceanographic controls.
  4. Characterize key sedimentary structures of mudrocks from different depositional environments.
  5. Formulate interpretations of biogenic mudrocks and predict changes in physical properties that occur with diagenesis.
  6. Identify components of an active petroleum system, including source rocks, migration pathways, carrier beds and reservoir rocks.
  7. Synthesize stratal stacking, sediment composition and diagenetic stage to predict mechanical stratigraphy and potential fracture networks.
  8. Recognize the component elements of mechanical stratigraphy and evaluate their impact on fracture development.
  9. Conduct surveys of fault and fracture networks in order to evaluate fracture scaling and fracture connectivity, and to design potential landing zones and trends for horizontal laterals in fractured reservoirs.
  10. Design conceptual models of a fractured reservoir that incorporate aspects of lithology, mechanical stratigraphy, fracture attributes and structural position.

The course uses spectacular, classic outcrops of different facies of the Miocene Monterey Formation exposed along the coast in southern and central California to train participants in the sedimentology, depositional systems, and climatic and oceanographic control of facies in clastic-poor, biogenic fine-grained deposits. The great heterogeneity of the Monterey Formation permits investigation of siliceous, calcareous, phosphatic and carbonaceous mudrocks. Proximity to the San Andreas fault system has generated tectonic structures with pervasive brittle deformation in the form of faults and fractures.

Participants will learn to characterize lithology, stratal architecture, depositional setting, diagenetic state, mechanical stratigraphy and fracture networks. Field investigation and exercises will be complemented by classroom lectures, sample examination and core description.

These concepts will be applied to the evaluation of naturally and artificially fractured reservoirs and hydrocarbon production.

Itinerary (subject to change)

Day 0:

Arrive at Santa Barbara Airport. Introductory lecture in evening. Overnight in Santa Barbara.


Day 1:

Half day field excursion to examine the Monterey in both relatively undeformed (Santa Barbara Point) and highly deformed states (Carpenteria State Beach), the petroleum system and hydrocarbon migration and seeps along a fault zone and adjacent fractured “damage zone”. Half day classroom lecture/workshop. Overnight in Santa Barbara.

Day 2:

Half day field trip to examine multiple lithofacies of organic-rich shale and other biogenic sedimentary rocks at Haskell’s Beach and Gaviota State Beach and cross-cutting, oil-charged slope gully sandstone/conglomerate deposit. Regional structure and fracture sets discussed. Half day classroom lecture/workshop. Overnight in Pismo Beach.

Day 3:

Full field day examining interbedded organic-rich carbonaceous mudstone and fractured chert reservoir rocks and unconformity-related sandstone reservoir at Shell Beach. Examine cyclic alternation of thin-bedded siliceous shale and porcelanite facies at Montana de Oro State Park. Investigate primary stratigraphic control of fracture networks and mechanical stratigraphy. Overnight in Pismo Beach.

Day 4:

Examine diatomaceous and diagenetic-silica-stage siliceous rocks at Sweeney Road. Examine detachment folding and faulting at multiple scales in context of regional structure. Half day classroom lecture/workshop. Overnight in Santa Barbara.

Day 5:

Lecture, core- and log-based exercises plus field study of mechanical stratigraphy and fracture networks at Arroyo Burro Beach. Investigate different modes of brittle failure in adjacent beds of mudstone and porcelanite, and their relationship to fold development. Examine evidence for episodic water and oil expulsion from deep basin along fault zones and fracture networks. Overnight in Santa Barbara.

Day 6:

Depart Santa Barbara Airport.

The course is aimed at exploration, development and production geoscientists whose focus is on unconventional resources. However, engineers and asset managers who are engaged in production from shale, chert or other unconventional resources and/or conventional fractured reservoirs should also benefit from this course.

Richard Behl

Richard (Rick) Behl’s expertise is in the sedimentology and sedimentary petrology of hemipelagic and pelagic sediments, and their relationship to climatic, oceanographic, and tectonic change.

Behl’s research focuses on the Quaternary Santa Barbara Basin and the petroliferous Miocene Monterey Formation that is composed of a complex suite of biogenic and diagenetic rocks. Rick has participated in numerous international marine geologic expeditions and led dozens of field trips and short-courses for professional organizations, international conferences, and industry. He has written more than 55 peer-reviewed, scientific articles and one controversial book. Behl and his students have made more than 180 conference presentations at regional to international conferences.

Affiliations and Accreditation
Professor, California State University Long Beach
PhD University of UC Santa Cruz  - Geology
BSc University of California
AAPG Distinguished Lecturer
AAPG-Pacific Section - Distinguished Educator
GSA - Fellow (2012)
Society for Sedimentary Geology-Pacific Section (Lifetime Honorary Membership

Courses Taught
N364: Fracture Architecture, Sedimentology and Diagenesis of Organic-rich Mudstones of Ancient Upwelling Zones with Application to Naturally Fractured Reservoirs (California, USA).


Jon R. Schwalbach

Jon Schwalbach is a consulting geologist with 35 years of prior industry experience.  He began his career with Exxon (18 years) and had assignments in exploration, development, and research organizations.  Much of that time was spent evaluating various aspects of the Monterey Formation, specifically depositional systems, fracture distribution, and general reservoir characterization.  More broadly, he worked on the sequence stratigraphic expression of mudstones in a variety of settings, and their roles in petroleum systems as source, seal and reservoir rocks.  Jon moved on to Occidental in 2000 to help them develop their Monterey reservoirs at Elk Hills, and finished up his industry career with 10 years at Aera Energy where he focused on reservoir characterization and exploration projects.

Jon has significant experience characterizing mudstone reservoirs integrating core, outcrop, and subsurface data, including image logs.  He has practical experience drilling and completing wells in challenging fractured reservoirs and has led numerous company and society-sponsored field trips along California coastal basins, in addition to organizing core workshops and short courses.

Affiliations and Accreditation
Ph.D. and M.S. – University of Southern California – Geological Sciences
B.S. – Duke University – Geological Sciences
AAPG – Distinguished Service Award 2018
Pacific Section AAPG – Honorary Member 2015
SEPM – Society of Sedimentary Geology

Courses Taught
N364: Fracture Architecture, Sedimentology and Diagenesis of Organic-rich Mudstones of Ancient Upwelling Zones with Application to Naturally Fractured Reservoirs (California, USA).

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.