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Overview Map of the Greater Green River Formation Oil Shale bearing areas

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Article Thumbnail Image The spatial and stratigraphic distribution of water in oil shale of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of northwestern Colorado was studied in detail using some 321,000 Fischer assay analyses in the U.S. Geological Survey oil-shale database. The oil-shale section was subdivided i...
Monday, April 14, 2014  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image This report presents two detailed cross sections of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin, northwestern Colorado, constructed from eight detailed measured sections, fourteen core holes, and two rotary holes. The Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin contains the world&r...
Monday, March 10, 2014  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image A recent U.S. Geological Survey analysis of the Green River Formation of the Piceance Basin in western Colorado shows that about 920 and 352 billion barrels of oil are potentially recoverable from oil shale resources using oil-yield cutoffs of 15 and 25 gallons per ton (GPT), respectively. This...
Wednesday, January 22, 2014  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image Halite and the sodium bicarbonate mineral nahcolite were deposited during the saline phase of Eocene Lake Uinta in the Piceance Basin, western Colorado. Variations in the area of saline mineral deposition through time were interpreted from studies of core and outcrop. Saline minerals were extensivel...
Wednesday, May 29, 2013  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image Thirteen stratigraphic cross sections of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of northwestern Colorado are presented in this report. Originally published in a much larger and more detailed form by Self and others (2010), they are shown here in simplified, page-size versions that ar...
Tuesday, April 09, 2013  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a total of 4.285 trillion barrels of oil in-place in the oil shale of the three principal basins of the Eocene Green River Formation. Using oil shale cutoffs of potentially viable (15 gallons per ton) and high grade &...
Monday, February 11, 2013  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image 2,263 scanned logs of various types including gamma ray, sonic, neutron, caliper, and lithologic descriptions are available for 621 different wells in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado. Logged intervals generally focus on the Green River Formation which contains large amounts of oil shale in th...
Wednesday, January 02, 2013  Type: Site News

Article Thumbnail Image Scanned copies of three legacy USGS publications with detailed stratigraphy of Upper Cretaceous and Lower Tertiary rocks in eastern Utah and western Colorado are now available online. MF 1050: five measured sections, in the Mesa Verde Group and Wasatch Formation, in the vicinity of De Beque Colorado...
Monday, December 17, 2012  Type: Technical Announcement

Article Thumbnail Image The in-place oil shale resources in the Eocene Green River Formation of the Piceance Basin of western Colorado and the Uinta Basin of western Colorado and eastern Utah are estimated at 1.53 trillion barrels and 1.32 trillion barrels, respectively. The oil shale strata were deposited in a single...
Tuesday, July 31, 2012  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the U.S. Geological Survey mapped the entire area underlain by oil shale of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado. The Piceance Basin contains the largest known oil shale deposit in the world, with an estimated 1.53 trillion...
Wednesday, May 16, 2012  Type: Publication
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Overview

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The Eocene Green River Formation of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming contains the largest oil shale deposits in the world. Oil shale, despite the name, does not actually contain oil, but rather a type of organic matter called kerogen, a precursor of oil that is converted to a type of crude oil when heated to about 450 – 500° C.   The oil shale deposits are in three structural and sedimentary basins that have been recently assessed:

Piceance Basin in western Colorado (assessment factsheet)

Uinta Basin in eastern Utah and western Colorado (assessment factsheet)

Greater Green River Basin in southwest Wyoming and northwest Colorado (assessment factsheet)

Estimated total in-place resources are about 1.5 trillion barrels of oil for the Piceance Basin, about 1.3 trillion barrels of oil for the Uinta Basin and 1.4 trillion barrels of oil in the Greater Green River Basin. The Piceance Basin is the smallest of the three principal basins of the Green River Formation in terms of area covered and contains the highest concentration of high-grade oil shale (capable of generating at least 25 gallons of oil per ton of rock), with approximately 352 billion barrels of in-place oil resource.

This site is a clearing house for a large collection of oil shale publications and data, including Geospatial (GIS) data,  Fischer assay data, geologic cross sections, scans of geophysical logs, and core descriptions. 

 

Ron Johnson
Project Chief

 

Research

Overview Map of the Greater Green River formation.

Overview Map of the greater Green River formation, including Oil Shale bearing rocks, Piceance, Uinta, Green River, Greate Divid, Washakie and Sand Wash Basins. (DDS 69-Y)

Piceance Basin, Colorado 2010 Assessment

An in-place assessment of the oil shale and nahcolite resources of the Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado was competed in 2010. The Piceance Basin is one of three large structural and sedimentary basins that contain vast amounts of oil shale resources in the Green River Formation of Eocene age. [+]

The oil shale interval in the Piceance Basin is subdivided into seventeen “rich” and “lean” zones and each interval was assessed for variations in gallons per ton, barrels per acre, and total barrels in each 36-square mile township. These zones are roughly time-stratigraphic units consisting of distinctive, laterally continuous sequences of rich and lean oil shale beds that can be traced throughout much of the Piceance Basin. The Radial Basis Function extrapolation method was used to generate isopach and isoresource maps, and to calculate resources.

Estimated in-place oil is about 1.5 trillion barrels, based on Fischer assay results from boreholes drilled to evaluate oil shale, making it the largest oil shale deposit in the world. The estimated in-place nahcolite resource is about 43.3 billion short tons.

Results of this assessment are available in the following publications:

Johnson, R.C., Brownfield, M.E., and Mercier, T.J., (U.S. Geological Survey Oil Shale Assessment Team), 2010a, Oil Shale and Nahcolite Resources of the Piceance Basin, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series DDS-69-Y [CD-ROM]. http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-069/dds-069-y/

Mercier, T.J., Johnson, R.C., Brownfield, M.E., and Self, J.G., 2010, In-Place Oil Shale Resources Underlying Federal Lands in the Piceance Basin, Western Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-2010-3041, 4 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3041/

Johnson, R.C., Mercier, T.J., Brownfield, M.E., Pantea, M.P., and Self, J.G., 2009, Assessment of in-place oil shale resources of the Green River Formation, Piceance Basin, western Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3012, 6 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3012/


Uinta Basin, Colorado and Utah 2010 Assessment

A comprehensive geology-based assessment of in-place oil, regardless of richness, in oil shales of the Eocene Green River Formation of the Uinta Basin of eastern Utah and western Colorado was conducted in 2010. [+]

The oil shale interval was subdivided into eighteen roughly time-stratigraphic intervals, and each interval was assessed for variations in gallons per ton, barrels per acre, and total barrels in each 36-square mile township. The Radial Basis Function extrapolation method was used to generate isopach and isoresource maps, and to calculate resources. The total in-place resource for the Uinta Basin is estimated at 1.32 trillion barrels. This is only slightly lower than the estimated 1.53 trillion barrels for the adjacent Piceance Basin, Colorado, to the east, which is thought to be the richest oil shale deposit in the world. However, the area underlain by oil shale in the Uinta Basin is much larger than that of the Piceance Basin—3,834 mi2  vs. 1,335 mi2 —and the average gallons per ton and barrels per acre values for each of the assessed oil shale zones are significantly lower in the depocenter in the Uinta Basin when compared to the Piceance. These relations indicate that the oil shale resources in the Uinta Basin are of lower grade and are more dispersed than the oil shale resources of the Piceance Basin.

Results of this assessment are available in the following publications:

Johnson, R.C., (and U.S. Geological Survey Oil Shale Assessment Team), 2010, Oil Shale Resources of the Uinta Basin, Utah and Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series DDS-69-BB, [CD-ROM]. http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-069/dds-069-bb/

Johnson, R.C., Mercier, T.J., Brownfield, M.E., and Self, J.G., 2010, Assessment of in-place oil shale resources of the Green River Formation, Uinta Basin, Utah and Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3010, 4 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3010/

 

 

Green River Basin, Southwestern Wyoming and Colorado 2011 Assessment

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed in 2011 a comprehensive assessment of in-place oil in oil shales in the Eocene Green River in the Greater Green River Basin, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. Results of this study are provided in two publications, below:

Johnson, R.C., (and U.S. Geological Survey Oil Shale Assessment Team), 2010, Oil Shale Resources of the Eocene Green River Formation, Greater Green River Basin, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah: U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series DDS-69-DD, [CD-ROM]. http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-069/dds-069-ddb/

Johnson, R.C., Mercier, T.J., and Brownfield, M.E., 2011, Assessment of In-Place Oil Shale Resources of the Green River Formation, Greater Green River Basin in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011-3063, 4 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2011/3063/

 

Multimedia

Oil Shale Assessment of the Green River Formation:

 

 

Slideshow describing the Assessment of Oil Shale Resources in the Green River Basin

 

 

 

Page Last Modified: Friday, May 24, 2013

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