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Sedimentary environment responsible for deposition of sediments in the

sedimentary basin
its general feature and illustraion of those properties in the concerned field.

2.Reginonal geology of the area :

basin formation and sedimentation process with time
Provenience of sediments and sediments supply direction of the basin .

3. basic structural geology , like presence of faults , its types(whether normal or

and how they are afftecting reservoir properties (compartmentalisation )

4. Mineralology and the

Subsurface Geological Mapping


The most important means of providing various geological information of an

exploration site are different types of maps and cross sections.

The different maps include surface and subsurface maps of the following types:
a. Structure contour map
b. Isopach, Isochore and Isopay maps
c. Iso-porosity and Iso-permeability Map
d. Lithofacies maps.
In this lecture we will mainly deal with the first two types of maps.


A structure contour map is a map that depicts the geometrical configuration of a

structural datum by means of lines of equal height drawn on it at different
elevations measured above or below a datum. A structural datum is a key
stratigraphic horizon on which the contours are drawn (Fig. 1). A structure contour
is an imaginary line connecting points of equal elevation on a single horizon,
usually the top or bottom of a particular sedimentary bed or formation. The mean
sea level is generally referred as the elevation datum plane for the purpose.

2.1. Characteristics of Structure Contour Lines

i. A structure contour line joins points of equal elevation. A minus (-) sign
before a contour indicates depth below some datum level, usually sea level.
ii. It is always horizontal
iii. In an area one or more contours may form closed curves.
iv. The spacing between the structure contours depends on the inclination of the
planar feature.
a. Horizontal planar features do not show any structure contour line. There can
be infinite number of ways drawing contour lines for these planes.
b. Vertical planar features give only line on the map.
c. Inclined planar features show different contour lines, corresponding to
different heights.
v. For any planar segment of a bed, the spacing of the structure contour remains
same when difference of altitude shown by the contour lines is same.
vi. No contour should cross over itself or over another contour, except in
overturned or recumbent folds, and reverse faults.

2.2. Objective of Preparing Structure Contour Maps

The objectives for preparing structure contour maps are:

i. To determine the relationships between isolated points of observation.
ii. To extend geological inference from areas in which conditions are known into
those where control is sparse or absent.
iii. To illustrate large-scale features such as the tectonic configuration of an
entire basin or features as small as an individual fold.
iv. Structure contour maps are commonly used to guide the selection of drilling
v. To reconstruct the forms and to determine the probable extent of geological
vi. To provide the means of evaluating areas and to disclose obscure trends.
vii. To portray the progressive development of structural features from one
geological period to another.
viii. To provide a means of accurately measuring volumes of irregular masses.
ix. To develop geological ideas and concepts.

2.3. Methods of Preparing a Structure Contour Map

i. A key horizon (the top of an oil-bearing stratum) must be chosen to be

represented by the structure contours.
ii. Whenever the key horizon is exposed at the surface of the earth, the altitude
may be plotted on the map. The data may also come from drill holes. If the
thickness of the various stratigraphic units have been precisely determined it is
possible to predict at what depth the key horizon occurs, even though it is not
exposed or penetrated by drill holes.
iii. When structure contour maps are to be prepared from subsurface geology (sub-
crop map), the necessary data should include the location of the drill holes,
altitude of the drill site relative to the mean sea level and depth of the key bed
from the top of the well, or perhaps, if the key bed is not reached, the vertical
distance of the key bed below some recognisable bed.
iv. A suitable structure contour interval should be selected to depict the
structure. The interval selected should depend on :
a. The density of control points available. (There should be more contours when
more data are available).
b. The steepness of the dips involved. (Use a smaller contour interval for
gentle dips than for steep dipping structures).
c. The scale of the map. (The contour interval should be decreased as the size
oft he map increases.)
d. Accuracy of the elevations. (The contour interval should be greater than the
limits of error involved).
v. Before starting to contour a sheet, the values of the points of control
should be examined, and areas and alignments of the highest and lowest values
should be determined by comparison. Usually, it is advantageous to begin the
contouring at these localities.
vi. Control points scattered at random are seldom aligned along the strike or
along the true dip. Oblique alignments are liable to give erroneous impressions of
the true dip and strike. Therefore, the sheet should be studied for pairs of
control point having nearly the same values or maximum differences in values per
unit of distance.
vii. The control points with equal elevations should be joined by smooth lines.
Every contour line must pass between these points, whose elevation values are
higher; and lower respectively, than that of the contour.
viii. If, of the two adjacent control points one has higher altitude than a
particular contour value chosen and the other has a lower value, interpolate the
distance proportionately between the pair or points to determine the position,
which will be taken by the required contour line. It is desirable to maintain an
equal contour spacing (constant dip) and make only gradual changes in strike unless
the contour data forces rapid changes in strike and dip.
ix. A contour line must not cross over itself or any other contour with the
exception of overturned or recumbent folds and reverse faults. Contours may
converge into a single line to represent vertical surfaces, faults or other lateral
rates of change that are too high to accommodate individual contours on the scale
of the map. Usually contours are not shown for that portion of a datum surface
lying below a thrust sheet or lower limb of the recumbent fold. These hidden
portions may be shown as dotted or dashed lines.
x. When the range of value is large so that many contours must be drawn, every
fifth contour should be heavier than the others.
xi. Contour should be numbered in such a way that the figures are evenly
distributed over the map.

2.4. Interpretation of Structure Contour Maps

Before interpretation of the structure contour map starts, one should have good
idea of the regional geology of the area being worked and of the type of structures
involved. It is important to appreciate the manner in which structural features are
expressed on maps so that the configuration of the contoured surface can be
visualized quickly from the map. Individual contours have different shapes and they
give rise collectively to many different contour patterns. The variation in form
and patterns of contours may be studied in terms of contour interval (i.e. the
difference in height between the contours) and contour spacing (i.e. distance
between adjacent contours on a map). These two give the structural gradient that is
the measure .of the angle of dip of the contoured surface. Closely spaced contours
indicate a steep slope whereas widely spaced contours indicate a gentle slope. The
shapes of contours may be straight concave or convex in their finest details. If an
area is entirely enclosed by one or more contours, it is known as a closed

Rectilinear contours indicate uniformly dipping surface. Convex or curved contours,

with higher contours occurring inwards (Fig. 2), represent plunging antiformal
folds. Concave or curved contours, with lower contours laying inwards (Fig. 3),
stand for plunging synformal folds. Closed rings 6f contours, with higher contours
towards the inner side (Fig. 4a), are due to dome shaped folds. Closed rings of
contours, with lower contours occupying regions (Fig. 4b), represent basin

The devious course of a contour (or group of contours) is an expression of the

irregularities of the surface that the contour represents.
A reversal of dip occurs over fold axes. Therefore, the highest (for antiforms) and
lowest (for synforms) contours are repeated on each side of the fold axis. Because
of this reversal in dip over fold axes a widening or narrowing of the contour
spacing may occur in the axial areas. Usually the spacing between contours will be
steeper in the flanks (limbs) of anti forms than along the plunge or in the crestal
area of the folds. If the contours are straight and parallel to each other on both
the sides, the fold is non-plunging in nature.

Anomalous areas where the contour pattern and value differ from the remainder of
the map area should be studied carefully for possible faults. Faults invariably
create a zone where the datum surface is absent (i.e. datum gap - in case of normal
faults - Fig. 5) or where the datum surface overlap each other (i.e. datum overlap
- in case of reverse faults - Fig. 6). The size of the datum gap of overlap can be
determined on the structure contour maps if there are sufficient datum control
points for the fault blocks and at least three points that have penetrated the
fault plane. However, if the fault is vertical there should be no datum gap or
overlap on the structure contour map, but a horizontal separation of contour lines
will be noticeable along the fault trace. In structure contour maps, the area of
datum gaps increases as the fault dip decreases. The strike and dip of the fault
can be determined from the datum gap/overlap.


Thickness variations of rocks are shown by isopach and isochore maps. Contour lines
on these maps represent lines of equal thickness. An isopach map shows variations
in true thickness of the rock, whereas an isochore map shows variations in vertical

For horizontal beds an isopach map is identical to the isochore map; and both the
maps differ from each other for inclined beds. Isochore maps show greater thickness
than the isopach maps of the same formation.

Isopach maps are of more interest in subsurface structural studies than the
isochore maps. The former maps show variations in original depositional thickness
due to faulting (thickening by thrust faults and thinning by normal faults).
Therefore, isopach maps provide valuable information about:
(a) Patterns of ancient river systems,
(b) Paleo-topography (shape of sedimentary basin),
(c) Unconformities,
(d) Faults,
(e) Stratigraphic traps (pinch out of porous sandstones against impermeable beds),
(f) Different types of folds.

Fig. 7. Relationship between true thickness and vertical thickness.

Fig.. 8. Isopach map for wedge-shaped geometry

Fig. 9. Isopach map for paleochannels.

Fig. 10. Isopach map for lenticular geometry.

Books for Reference

Badgley, P.C. (1959) Structural Methods for the Exploration Geologist. Harper and
Brothers, New York.
Groshong, RH, Jr. (2006). 3-D Structural Geology: A Practical Guide to Quantitative
Surface and Subsurface Map Interpretation. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
LeRoy, L.W. and Low, J.W. (1954). Graphic problems in Petroleum Geology. Harper and
Brothers, New York.
Marshak, S. and Mitra, G. (1988). Basic Methods of Structural Geology. Prentice
Tearpock, D.J. and Bischke Richard E. (2002) Applied Subsurface Geological Mapping
with Structural Methods (2nd Edition). Prentice Hall, New York.