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Sedimentology and Stratigraphy of Lacustrine Systems: Reservoir and Source Rocks, Great Salt Lake and Green River Formation (Utah and Colorado, USA)

Course Code: N245
Instructors:  Rick SargPaul Wright
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
6 days


This course evaluates the lacustrine deposits of the modern Great Salt Lake and the Eocene Green River Formation. Themes are improved subsurface characterization of lacustrine deposits through utilization of outcrop analogs (carbonate, mixed carbonate/clastic and oil shale) and examination of the Green River Formation petroleum system (clastic and carbonate gas reservoirs and shale source at Altamont-Bluebell, Bakken-like oil shale exploitation in the Uinta Basin). 


Introduction to saline lacustrine system using the Great Salt Lake was excellent.

Duration and Training Method

This is a 6-day field course to the Great Salt Lake of Utah and the Piceance Basin of eastern Utah and western Colorado. Approximately 70% of the course time is spent in the field, with the balance split equally between core viewing and classroom lectures.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Evaluate lithofacies and their distribution in lake center, distal lake margin, and proximal lake margin in a freshwater to saline lake system of Eocene age in the Piceance Basin and construct a depositional model.
  2. Perform a comparison of these lithofacies with other Eocene-aged lake systems in the region (Utah and Wyoming).
  3. Evaluate features present in these ancient lake systems based on observations of a modern lake system in a similar tectonic setting.
  4. Evaluate features in subsurface cores based upon the lithofacies observed in the modern Great Salt Lake and Piceance Basin outcrops.
  5. Perform field observations of stratal patterns, depositional geometries and lithofacies distribution, and apply to reservoir modeling of lacustrine reservoirs.
  6. Evaluate the processes and products involved in microbial carbonate deposition in lacustrine environments.
  7. Assess the source characteristics of the regional Green River paleo-lake system.
  8. Assess shale oil prospectivity and the maturation/migration potential of a mature oil shale system.
  9. Rate their projects by comparison to global analogs, including several field examples from the nearby Uinta Basin (W. Willow and Blue Bell fields) where both siliciclastics and microbialites are reservoirs.

This course provides the tools and approaches needed to identify and differentiate the diverse depositional environments encountered in lacustrine systems.  Emphasis is placed on economic application of key concepts to predict reservoir and source occurrence and probable reservoir behavior, all placed within a stratigraphic framework.


Day 0

  • Introductory lectures on lacustrine systems and microbialite carbonates
  • Overnight in Salt Lake City, Utah

Day 1

  • Field excursion to modern Great Salt Lake sediments at Bridger Bay and Rozel Point
  • Overnight in Salt Lake City, Utah

Day 2

  • Lectures on lacustrine systems and microbialite carbonates, Green River Formation, and ephemeral lake deposits
  • Core workshop at Utah Geologic Survey core store in Salt Lake City
  • Drive to Vernal, Utah
  • Overnight in Vernal, Utah

Day 3

  • Evacuation Creek and Hell’s Hole Canyon field stops: Lake center and distal lake margin
  • Overnight in Rangely, Colorado

Day 4

  • Douglas Pass traverse: Lake margin mixed siliciclastic and carbonate lithofacies
  • Overnight in Rangely, Colorado

Day 5

  • Yellow Creek field stop: Lake margin siliciclastic deltaic and shoreline systems
  • Drive to Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Lectures on Green River carbonates, the South Atlantic and the expression of lacustrine stratigraphy and facies on seismic
  • Overnight in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Day 6

  • Travel to USGS Core Lab at Lakewood, Colorado, for core workshop and wrap-up session
  • Overnight in Golden, Colorado

Day 7

  • Travel home

Members of integrated exploration and asset teams charged with working conventional and unconventional plays in lacustrine systems. The course is designed to bring together geologists, geophysicists, and reservoir engineers.

Rick Sarg

• August, 2006 to present, Research Professor, Colorado Energy Research Institute, Colorado School of Mines, Golden. Teaching and Research 
   program in sequence stratigraphy, unconventional petroleum systems, and reservoir characterization of carbonate systems.
• 2005-2006, Senior Advisor and Instructor – Stratigraphy and Carbonates, William M. Cobb & Associates, Inc., Dallas.
• 2000-2005, Stratigraphy Coordinator, ExxonMobil Exploration Co. Lead Stratigrapher for ExxonMobil Upstream Companies.
• 1997-2000, Scientist, Upstream Strategic Research Center, Mobil Technology Co., Dallas.
• 1992-1997, Associate Research Advisor, Mobil E&P Technical Center, Dallas.
• 1990-1992, Independent Consulting Geologist/Geophysicist, Midland, Texas.
• 1988-1990, Exploration Supervisor, Lower Paleozoic Exploration Group, Permian Basin, Western Exploration Division, Exxon CO, USA
• 1985-1988, Research Supervisor, Carbonate Facies Section, Exxon Production Research Co.
• 1976-1985, Stratigraphic Research Group, Exxon Production Research Co.
• 1976, Geologist, Mobil Oil Corp.
• 1974, summer intern, Mobil Oil Corp.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Wisconsin Madison - Geology, Carbonate Sedimentology
MSc University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA, - Geology
BSc University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA,- Geology

Courses Taught
N245:Sedimentology and Stratigraphy of Lacustrine Systems:  Reservoir and Source Rocks, Great Salt Lake and Green River Formation (Utah and Colorado, USA)

Paul Wright

Paul Wright has worked on carbonates for over 40 years, holding positions at the universities of Bristol and Reading as well as the BG Chair in Applied Sedimentology at Cardiff University for ten years. For over five years from 2007 Paul was principal consultant sedimentologist and group technical authority for carbonates at BG Group. He has worked extensively on carbonate reservoirs in North Africa, offshore India, Kazakhstan and offshore Brazil, as well as in the Paris Basin, Abu Dhabi and West Africa. He has conducted field work widely in UK, Spain, Portugal, Oman and USA.

Paul has written over 140 research papers, and co-authored or edited several books including the main text book in carbonate sedimentology. He has supervised over 20 PhD students, most of whom work in the oil and gas industry. He has served on the editorial boards of several international journals.

He is now director of PW Carbonate Geoscience Ltd, specializing in consulting, training and mentoring in applied carbonate sedimentology. He is an honorary fellow at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

Paul is the 2016 recipient of the Pettijohn medal for outstanding contributions to sedimentology and stratigraphy, awarded by SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), and also recipient of the 2015 AAPG Grover E Murray Distinguished Educator Award.

Courses Taught
N020: Carbonate Depositional Systems:  Reservoir Sedimentology & Diagenesis
N143: Advanced Concepts in Carbonate Exploration and Reservoir Characterization (Northern Spain)
N245: Sedimentology and stratigraphy of Lacustrine Systems: Reservoir and Source Rocks (Utah & Colorado, USA)
N336: Carbonate Reservoir Description Based on Core and Well Data (Nottinghamshire, UK)

CEU: 4.8 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 48 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.