What's Oil Doing in Pennsylvania?

Here's what the stratigraphy looks like in the area where the famous Drake Well was drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania. In actuality, these formations are very hard to trace because the geology can change rapidly from place to place. This is very typical of highly crossbedded sandstone deposits formed near an ancient shoreline, the kind that form stratigraphic traps.

To illustrate the point of highly changeable geology, the Drake well actually struck oil within the Riceville Shale. If we've learned anything about reservoir rocks, we know that they generally are not shales. As it turns out, even shales sometimes contain thin horizons that are more sand-rich, which can act as a very local reservoir rock.

References:
Fox, John S. (1989). "Some Geological Aspects of the Oil Creek Valley Region". History of the Petroleum Industry Symposium: September 17-20, 1989. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. pgs. 46-53.

Dickey, P.A. (1941). Oil Geology of the Titusville Quadrangle, Pennsylvania: Pa. Geol. Survey, 4th series, Bull, M-22, 87 pp.

Ansley, Jane E. (2000). Teacher Friendly Guide to the Geology of the Northeastern United States. Paleontological Research Institution, Ithaca, NY, 182 pp.

Learn about the history of the Oil Regions of Pennsylvania

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