Wichita State News
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Left to right: Field trip organizer Shane Matson and trip leaders Beau Morris, Brian Wilhite, Sal Mazzullo, Darwin Boardman and Robert Turner.

Geology professor's research highlighted in national publication

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Wichita State University geology professor Sal Mazzullo, WSU alumnus Brian Wilhite, and graduate students Beau Morris and Robert Turner were featured in the American Association of Petroleum Geologists “Explorer,” the flagship publication for the petroleum geology industry.

The AAPG “Explorer,” which is read by tens of thousands of people each month, published two articles in the May issue detailing new research done by Mazzullo, Wilhite, Darwin Boardman from Oklahoma State University, and several graduate students.

The publication features new and innovative advances in the understanding of Mississippian-age stratigraphic architecture and its relevance to the exploration for petroleum occurrences in the subsurface rocks in Kansas, Oklahoma and throughout the mid-continent.

Their research greatly expands Mazzullo and Wilhite's earlier studies of the subsurface Mississippian-age Cowley Formation in Kansas. That research was published in the 2009 issue of the “Bulletin” of the AAPG.

The Cowley Formation is a very prolific, but previously poorly understood petroleum reservoir in the mid-continent, Mazzullo said.

Advances in understanding of the stratigraphic architecture gained from their work at the outcrop level in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma has been re-applied to the subsurface of Oklahoma and Kansas to aid in better understanding previously misinterpreted reservoirs, hence adding new hydrocarbon production, Wilhite said.

In large part because of their research, Mazzullo said, now oil exploration can be more methodical, based on clear, concise and repeatable/testable science.

‘Jumping on this information’

Oil exploration that used to be hit-and-miss is now more successful.

That’s good news for petroleum geologists and oil and gas companies.

“The mid-continent region is experiencing a renaissance in exploration and production based on new drilling technology and a renewed desire to better understand discrete reservoir objectives, which makes the timing of our work quite relevant to Mississippian exploration,” Wilhite said.

It’s also a boost to local economy, meaning more money for landowners as the oil companies lease property for exploration. Subsequent oil and gas production from this recent leasing activity will yield additional tax revenues to county and state coffers.

“For the first time, we now have a more coherent picture of the Mississippian-age reservoirs that have produced so much oil and gas in the mid-continent, and petroleum geologists are literally jumping on this information,” Mazzullo said.

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Created on Wednesday, June 08, 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, June 08, 2011