The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences

Mudrock Systems Research Laboratory hosts inaugural consortium meeting

[full agenda in PDF format]

On January 12 and 13, 72 attendees representing 16 companies with strong interests in gas-shale exploration participated in the Bureau’s 2-day inaugural meeting of the Mudrock Systems Research Laboratory (MSRL). The meeting marked the start of the Bureau’s newest industrial consortium group. With the twin goals of unraveling fundamental scientific aspects of the most common sedimentary rock type and devising applications of this new understanding to the characterization of an important and growing unconventional resource, the MSRL has invited an interdisciplinary group of Bureau geoscientists to participate. Currently the group is working to integrate stratigraphic and facies analysis, micro- and nanoscale imaging, geochemistry, structural studies, and rock properties analysis.

Kitty Milliken of BEG addresses attendees on day one of the inaugural MSRL annual consortium meeting.

Day 1 featured 18 presentations by Bureau scientists and invited collaborators. Director Scott Tinker welcomed participants and spoke on the importance of unconventional resources and gas shales to future energy needs. PI Stephen Ruppel began the morning with an overview talk covering emerging concepts in shale-basin development. Engineering and flow characteristics of gas shales were then examined in talks by Fred Wang, Alton Brown, and Farzam Javadpour. Regional stratigraphic work was presented on the Haynesville (Uschi Hammes), the Smithwick (Scott Hamlin and Nikki Hughes), the Pearsall (Bob Loucks), and the Eagle Ford (Ruppel). Kitty Milliken (with Jiemin Lu), Rob Reed, Ruarri Day-Stirrat, and Bob Loucks next presented talks that focused on petrographic analysis using a wide array of techniques, including an examination of nongas shales. Finally, Julia Gale presented work on characteristics of natural and induced fractures in shales, and Tongwei Zhang presented results of gas compositional analysis. Consortium members helped to make the proceedings lively in a spirited question-and-answer session.

Day 2 began at the Bureau’s Core Research Center (CRC) with a core workshop that included materials from the Smithwick, Haynesville, Pearsall, Barnett, Bone Spring, and Haynesville. This time the informal setting and the opportunity to examine a truly diverse set of mudrocks led to an even livelier atmosphere, with an abundance of conversation among presenters and attendees alike. In the afternoon, consortium participants had the opportunity to attend a 3-hour class on fundamentals of mudrock petrology presented by Kitty Milliken. With such training rare in university curricula, most attendees chose to participate in all three modules: petrographic techniques for mudrock characterization, grain assemblages in mudrocks, and diagenesis in mudrocks.

Terms for Google search: Gas shale(s), unconventional resources, mudrock(s), Barnett Shale, Marcellus Shale, Haynesville

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