Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Structure and Tectonics

Mechanical Stratigraphy, Stress and Geomechanics

Course Code: N411
Instructors:  Adam CawoodKevin Smart
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
3 days
5 sessions


Business Impact: We will explore the importance and application of stress and geomechanical analyses to energy exploration and production in both conventional and unconventional reservoirs, with emphasis on the importance of mechanical stratigraphy and stress states on processes such as natural deformation and hydraulic fracturing.

This course will apprise course participants of key concepts in mechanical stratigraphy, stress, and geomechanics. Participants will develop the skill sets necessary for planning and evaluating a  stress analysis and geomechanics study.

Duration and Training Method

This is a classroom or virtual classroom course comprising a mixture of lectures, discussion, and computer-based exercises.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Characterize mechanical stratigraphy based on lithostratigraphy and other information.
  2. Assess the role of mechanical stratigraphy and stress conditions on rock deformation behavior including fracture prediction in unconventional and conventional reservoirs.
  3. Assess the difference between shear and extension fractures and their different effects on permeability anisotropy.
  4. Evaluate the basics of stress analysis and geomechanics, including the interrelationship between  stress and strain in the context of geomechanical rock behavior.  Estimate an in situ stress field for an area of interest.
  5. Evaluate geomechanical issues for common petroleum and unconventional resource applications  such as well design, borehole stability, and hydraulic fracturing.
  6. Plan and evaluate a geomechanics study.
Session 1: Mechanical Stratigraphy
  • Lecture
  • Interactive Exercises
Session 2: Stress Analysis
  • Lecture
  • Exercises (outside of session)
Session 3: Stress Analysis
  • Interactive Discussion Exercises
Session 4: Geomechanics
  • Lecture
  • Exercises (outside of session)
Session 5: Geomechanics
  • Interactive Discussion Exercises

The course is intended for exploration, development and production geoscientists and reservoir and production engineers whose focus is on unconventional resources and/or conventional fractured reservoirs.

Adam Cawood


Adam is a structural geologist at Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas. He recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen (2019) which focused on the use of digital outcrops for the extraction of structural attributes. Adam performs training, research, and contract consulting for the oil and gas industry in his role as research scientist at Southwest Research Institute.

His research is focused on deformation processes in outcrop and the subsurface, fracture characterization and prediction, fault analysis, seismic-based cross-section construction and restoration, and close-range remote sensing for quantitative structural analysis. Adam has published several peer-reviewed journal articles, is a regular reviewer for various academic journals and has received a number of academic awards. He has carried out field studies of contractional systems in the western Alps, Variscan Pembrokeshire, the NW Highlands of Scotland and the Rocky Mountains and fracture characterization in the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico. Adam is an advocate of digital outcrops for geological training and has developed web-based teaching resources in this area.

Affiliations & Accreditation

Ph.D. University of Aberdeen and the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil and Gas - Geology
B.Sc. University of Aberdeen - Geology

Courses Taught

N134: Carbonate and Shale Faulting and Fracturing Field Seminar (Texas, USA)
N411: Mechanical Stratigraphy, Stress and Geomechanics

Kevin Smart

Dr. Smart is a structural geologist with cross training in computational solid mechanics. His expertise is in the areas of structural geology and tectonophysics, nonlinear finite element analysis, field mapping, strain and microstructural analyses, and geologic fracture analysis. Dr. Smart’s research has ranged from outcrop and microscale analyses of carbonate and clastic rocks of the Appalachian, Ouachita, and Alpine contractional orogenic and the Basin and Range and Balcones Fault Zone extensional systems to field and laboratory studies of igneous and metamorphic rocks in the Wichita Mountains, Colorado Front Range, and southeastern Alaska.

Geomechanics efforts have included diverse applications in reservoir characterization (e.g., natural fracture prediction and production-related deformation, borehole stability, induced hydraulic fracturing), analyzing thermal effects on stress state evolution, and finite element analyses of ground response to seismic events. He has also conducted NASA-sponsored research to better understand the development of pit crater chains, landslides, and wrinkle ridges on Mars.

Dr. Smart is currently part of an integrated team that performs structural geology and geomechanics technical assistance and research projects for the oil and gas industry. His work in this area includes using geomechanical models to predict fracture distributions in conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs as well as analyze the effect of complex stress fields on subsurface deformation for problems ranging from large-scale folding and faulting down to borehole stability.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of  Tennessee, Knoxville - Geology
MS University of New Orleans - Geology
BS Allegheny College - Geology, Honors

Courses Taught
N114:  Extensional Tectonics and Normal Faulting (Nevada and California, USA)
N266:  Stress and Geomechanical Analyses (Texas, USA)
N381:  Influence of Tectonics and Mechanical Stratigraphy on Natural Deformation in the Permian Basin (Texas, USA)
N411:  Fractures, Stress and Geomechanics

CEU: 2.4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 24 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.