Research on the Berea Sandstone petroleum system highlighted in AAPG Bulletin


A special issue of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin features research by geologists at the Kentucky Geological Survey and U.S. Geological Survey on the Berea Sandstone petroleum system in Kentucky and Ohio, KGS geologists Stephen F. Greb, Cortland F. Eble, David C. Harris, Brandon C. Nuttall (retired), and Richard Bowersox are authors of five of the six papers in the Bulletin andThomas M. (Marty) Parris served as an author and volume editor.

The Devonian Berea Sandstone has been a major producer of oil and gas throughout the Appalachian Basin, including Kentucky, since the 1800s. In 2011, a new phase of development began in the Berea Sandstone oil play in the northeastern part of Kentucky, at depths of less than 2,200 feet. Production in this area is surprising because part of it occurred in an area where conventional geologic analysis predicted there wasn’t enough thermal maturity for oil and gas to be generated.

The KGS and the U.S. Geological Survey scientists used geochemical analysis of subsurface oil and gas samples to determine the oil likely migrated tens of miles into northeastern Kentucky. The study helps geologists understand the complexity of Berea Sandstone reservoirs and can be used to determine the placement of oil wells. This work shows the importance of analyzing oil and gas chemistry to complement rock-based analysis to understand the origin of oil and gas.

Energy companies in Kentucky or with ties to Kentucky funded this study.


AAPG Bulletin March 2021 Cover image used with permission.
PHOTO ON COVER – Roadcut of the Devonian Berea Sandstone capped by the Sunbury Shale along Kentucky Highway 10 near Garrison, Kentucky. The lower part of the outcrop consists of interbedded sandstone, siltstone, and shale, with abundant soft-sediment deformation. Bedded shales decrease upward into siltstone and sandstone, which contain storm bedding and soft-sediment deformation (partly hidden on upper bench). The lower interbedded interval is 15–20 ft (4–6 m) thick. Photo courtesy of Cortland Eble.



Last Modified on 2023-01-05
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