Publication Date

Summer 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Michael T. May (Director), Fredrick D. Siewers, and Jun Yan

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Historically, Devonian Corniferous hydrocarbon production in south-central Kentucky has been a major contributor to the total hydrocarbon resources within Butler, Edmonson, and Warren counties. The Corniferous adds to the already large hydrocarbon totals produced from the Illinois Basin; however, this hydrocarbon contribution does not come without major pitfalls and inconsistencies. The south-central Kentucky Devonian Corniferous rocks comprise a diverse and complex hydrocarbon system made up of multiple migration pathways, trapping mechanisms, and seals. The multiple Corniferous units all derive production from the same source rock: the New Albany Shale.

A Geographic Information System (GIS) containing data on surface elevations, structure contours and faults, geophysical well logs, well-scale oil and gas production, and lease to regional-scale oil and gas production has been compiled to produce a threedimensional (3-D) model using kriging with barriers to explain spatially the complexities of the Devonian Corniferous in south-central Kentucky. This model identifies the potential source rocks, the hydrocarbon charging and migration pathways, reservoirs, and reservoir seals. This model also utilizes kernel density estimation for developing an understanding of the spatial relationship of stratigraphic units being targeted within the Devonian relative to the spatially modeled Devonian Corniferous structures. This model also indicates locations and depths of key producing zones within south-central Kentucky.

This project also explains the potential reasoning leading to the development of the Devonian Corniferous as a major hydrocarbon resource by placing it in the context of the underlying Silurian Corniferous and the multiple Siluro-Devonian unconformities positioned throughout the entire Siluro-Devonian section. This project bridges the gap between: 1) potential buried Silurian-age reef systems located south of the Pennyrile Fault zone, 2) the pervasive high porosity sections found in the lower Clear Creek Limestone unit, and 3) the development of expansive secondary partial dolomitization related to unconformable surfaces in the Middle and Upper Devonian Corniferous.


Earth Sciences | Geology

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