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How do outcrops help in evaluating the petroleum system of an area. I mean i understand identifying potential outcrop of sandstone as being a good reservoir rock but this is on the surface. Normally reservoirs are buried and would require a seal and trap so no hydrocarbons would escape. Or do we look at these outcrops as a potential for the future? If so wouldn't that require millions of years for it to be buried, a seal to be formed and the migration of hydrocarbons from a potential source rock deep below.
Also what identifiable features from an outcrop that would suggest that the are not good potential source, seal or reservoir rock.
Thanks for taking the time. Finding this subject a bit daunting.


These are good questions.  I am wondering, are you a student of engineering, geology or something else?  I have a guess that it might be engineering....

Consider the outcrop an extension of what is in the subsurface.  When you look at an outcrop of sandstone, consider its strike and dip so that you map it into the subsurface.  You also need to seek out other outcrops as well.  This will help you understand the sandstone's relationship to other rocks in the sequence.  This understanding of the stratigraphy will help you better appreciate where there might be traps and where the seal might be, etc., etc.  All of this information will help develop a better understanding of the depositional environment, how things formed and where you need to target your exploration dollars.  You need to be able to appreciate that what you see at the surface is likely an indication of what is at depth.

Hope this helps.



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Fraser Hamilton


I have over 15 years of professional experience in the environmental geology field. I am well versed in general geology types of questions and answers. In addition I have a keen understanding of physical stratigraphy (especially in the Valley and Ridge of Central PA) and cycles.


Eight years of education, fifteen years of professional experience. Have worked or studied in ME, PA, TX, KY, IN, TN, OH, WA and Scotland.

Geological Society of America
American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Properties Magazine
Cleveland Bar Association
Cleveland Engineering Society

BA Geology/Math, University of Maine at Farmington
MA Geology - Physical Stratigraphy, Temple University
Post Grad Studies Geology - Texas A&M University

Awards and Honors
Distinguished graduate teaching award, Temple University

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