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Thursday, March 5 • 15:15 - 17:15
Poster: 'Upper Cambrian Microbial Reefs, Mason, Texas: The making of Virtual Outcrops using Photogrammetry,' Pankaj Khanna, Rice University

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The discovery of hydrocarbon reservoirs in pre-salt microbial accumulations offshore Brazil and Angola, in addition to a significant microbial component in some of the world’s largest carbonate reservoirs in the Pri-Caspian Basin, has renewed interest in microbial deposits. Spectacular outcrops of Upper Cambrian microbial reefs in Mason County, Texas, offer unique opportunities to assess varying scales of their spatial variation and potentially serve as subsurface analogs to improve reservoir correlation and modeling. These outcrops are available on the Shepard and Zesch private Ranches, along the Llano and James rivers and Mill creek. These ranches became recently accessible to carry out geological field work.

Understanding the heterogeneities and scales within the microbial unit could be best understood by making measurements of their size and spatial characteristics. Photogrammetry, a science to take measurements through photographs is utilized in this study. An aerial survey was conducted to collect digital photographs over ten outcrops (three pavements and seven cliffs). Camerawings, an Aerial Photography Company, was hired to conduct the survey with a drone which has the longest flight time, to be able to cover larger area in single flight, carried Sony NEX-7, 24.3 MP camera, best resolution camera available at the time of data acquisition, a gimble, a tool which keeps camera horizontal during flight and a GPS, to locate the position at which the photograph was taken. The collected data was processed using Agisoft 1.0 which yielded three major products; Orthophotograph, Digital Elevation Model and KMZ (Google Earth readable file format). The initial results from these products include identification of various scales of microbial bioherms, their external morphology and their spatial continuity. Future studies include understanding the architecture and statistically analyzing different scales with a final goal to produce a geological geocellular model of the microbial unit.

The Rice/Trinity Industry Microbial Research Consortium is funded by Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, and Statoil.


Thursday March 5, 2015 15:15 - 17:15 CST
BioScience Research Collaborative 6500 Main Street, Houston, Tx 77005