Master of Science (MS)


Geology and Geophysics

Document Type



The Tuscaloosa Marine Shale formation (TMS) of Central Louisiana and South Mississippi was suggested as a potential hydrocarbon play with up to seven billion barrels of reserves in a 1997 study by Louisiana State University’s Basin Research Institute. The TMS is considered an unconventional resource because it is a source, reservoir, and seal. Since 1997, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have enabled exploration and documentation of oil reserves in this play. Prior to this study, high resistivity log curves were used to predict areas of economic interest. While areas of high resistivity within the TMS are often indicative of high TOC, in order to determine the presence of hydrocarbons in pore space sonic velocity and thermal maturation (the degree to which an organic source rock has been heated), information must be considered. In this study, information from sonic logs and resistivity logs from 43 wells were used in Schlumberger’s PetroMod® software to estimate porosity, pore pressure, and thermal maturation. Model results indicate that the TMS is in the oil window (0.55 to 1.1 %Ro) throughout the study area. Vitrinite Reflectance (%Ro), porosity, and pore pressure are consistent with depth of burial and normal compaction, with vitrinite reflectance ranging from 0.62-1.12; porosity ranging from 5-15%; and pore pressure ranging from 4366-9413 psi . Total Organic Carbon (TOC) was estimated using a log overlay technique on 127 wells. Estimated TOC in the study area ranges from 0.5% to 3% and has a complex spatial distribution. Highest TOC values are predicted along the northern boundary between East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parishes; along the northern boundary of Pointe Coupee and St. Landry Parishes, and eastern Avoyelles Parish; along the border between East and West Feliciana Parishes; in Wilkinson County, MS; along the border between Amite County, MS and St. Helena Parish. Results were calibrated using geochemical data provided by operators active in the TMS. This research has provided a technique to predict areas with high concentrations of TOC that are thermally mature, which are commonly associated with areas of unconventional production potential.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Nunn, Jeff