University of Texas at Austin

Research Plans



A hallmark of the RCRL research program is its unique combination of recognizing subsurface characterization challenges that can be improved by the use of well-defined outcrop analogs and a breadth of subsurface characterization experience that is brought to bear on problems important to sponsors of the program. In the 30 years of RCRL research on carbonate systems, technical methods have been developed that populate the sequence stratigraphic framework with reservoir-flow properties so as to improve hydrocarbon recovery. Yet many challenges still exist within carbonate reservoirs, especially in the area of integration of nonmatrix pore systems (e.g., fractures and karst), pore-network-related diagenesis (e.g., micropores/tight carbonate reservoirs), and the realistic three-dimensional variability of lithofacies distribution. 

The RCRL research program consist of the five broad research areas and it’s 2019 research activities will focus on the following projects: 

Early Permian shelf-to-basin syntectonic to early post-tectonic stratigraphy of the Delaware and Midland Basins

  • Stratigraphic architecture of Wolfcampian to Guadalupian platforms, shelf margins, slopes and basin fill, Glass Mountains to Southern Delaware Basin
  • Wolfcampian to Guadalupian shelf-to-basin framework of the Midland and Delaware Basins
  • Characterization of mixed carbonate-siliciclastic slope to basin deposits in the Permian Basins and outcrop analogs of the Sierra Diablos and Ely-Bird Spring (EBS) Basin in SE California
  • 3D fault framework within the northern Midland and Delaware Basins and implications for Early Permian synorogenic deformation and deposition
  • Integrated reservoir characterization geocellular models at field scale of the Fasken Ranch and Red Tank 3D seismic areas
  • Micropetrography and pore network characterization of Wolfcampian, Bone Spring and Avalon intervals in cores

Austin Chalk lithofacies, mechanical and geochemical stratigraphy, fracture characterization, source rock evaluation, and reservoir performance characterization

  • Lithofacies and source rock evaluation characterization of Austin Chalk in Texas and Louisiana
  • Geochemical and mechanical stratigraphy of the Austin Chalk and transitional Eagle Ford
  • Natural fracture impact on Austin Chalk reservoir performance in south Texas
  • Mechanical stratigraphy and fracture characterization of the Austin Chalk in core and outcrop

Gulf of Mexico Carbonate Reservoir Settings, Margin Variability and Pore Systems

  • Characterization of a Structurally Complex Lower Cretaceous Carbonate Platform, El Doctor, Central Mexico
  • Documentation of Lower Cretaceous (Albian) large-scale microbial mounds and associated rudist mounds on the Comanche Shelf
  • Upper Jurassic carbonates: regional controls and detailed subregional ooids reservoir distributions in Mexico (CONACIt-IMP-UT project, (pending funds)

Cenozoic carbonate platforms, high-resolution stratigraphy, and structural configuration

  • Pleistocene Carbonate Stratigraphy – Lessons for Better Understanding of Ancient Carbonate Flow Units, Platform Architecture, and Diagenetic Patterns
  • Miocene Carbonate Platform in the Mut and Adana Basins, southern Turkey
  • Shelf-to-basin analysis of Tertiary mixed-carbonate siliciclastic depositional systems of Northwest Shelf, Australia

Modeling carbonate systems

  • Upper Cretaceous Reservoir Characterization of the AHDEBf Field, Iraq
  • Regional scale 3D models of the Delaware Basin, Central Basin Platform, and Midland Basin
  • Integrated structural and stratigraphic 3D outcrop model of the Grayburg-San Andres interval, Brokeoff Mountains, TX and NM

Database Updates

  • Searchable Catalog of RCRL Presentations and Extended Abstracts (coming in 2019)
  • Digital Outcrop Catalog to ArcGIS (coming in 2019)
  • RCRL Core Workshop Database to ArcGIS (coming in 2019)
  • Austin Chalk Core Properties to ArcGIS
  • Reservoir Properties Digital Database of GOM carbonates

The 2019 research directions are described in more detail in our 2019 Executive Summary and Prospectus.

2018 Executive Summary and Prospectus

2019 Executive Summary and Prospectus