PGS: Nadeau on the US shale oil/gas revolution

Please join us for the February 16, 2016, meeting of the Potomac Geophysical Society (PGS) at 7:00 p.m. at Crowne Plaza – Tysons Corner hotel, 1960 Chain Bridge Road, 22102.  This location is within one-half mile of the Tysons Corner Metro station, near I-495, and has free parking available.  Our private meeting room is located in the back of the Tuscan Grille restaurant on the second floor of the hotel.  This month only, the optional dinner cost will be discounted to $30 for members and non-members ,and is inclusive of iced tea, coffee, tax and gratuity.  Members and guests may attend the presentation after dinner for no charge; we estimate that the presentation will begin at 8:15 p.m.  For attendees who arrive early, the social will be held in O’Malley’s Pub on the first floor of the Crowne Plaza hotel.  Drinks may also be purchased in the private meeting room on a cash basis.

Social: 6:00-7:00 p.m. O’Malley’s Pub, first floor Crowne Plaza

Dinner: 7:00-8:15 p.m. Tuscan Grille, second floor Crowne Plaza

Meeting & Presentation: 8:15-9:30 p.m. Tuscan Grille, second floor Crowne Plaza.

This Month’s Talk: 

The US Shale Oil/Gas Revolution: An Historic Opportunity to Advance American Society* 

Paul H Nadeau, University of Stavanger, Inst. Petroleum Technology

ABSTRACT: Potomac Geophysical Society, Crown Plaza, Tyson’s Corner, VA, 16th February, 2017

Recent technical advances in unconventional or “tight” shale oil and gas extraction1 are reviewed in light of the dramatic rise in US oil and gas production volumes over the last 5 years.

This unprecedented increase in energy production and reserves additions has catapulted the USD into the world leadership position. Using petrophysical analysis and other data, estimates of recoverable US oil reserves are now on the order of 1 Trillion barrels, equal to one-half of the original global conventional oil endowment, or the total volume of oil produced on our planet over the last 100 years.

The strategic significance and geopolitical implications of this remarkable achievement cannot be overstated2. The geological foundations of these energy reserves rest on the development of an extensive Palaeozoic foreland basin along the SE Margin of North America during the formation of the Pangea super-continent, followed by an even greater Mesozoic foreland basin along the western convergent margin from Alaska to Mexico during Pagean break-up and associated creation of the Atlantic Ocean3. No other continent is so favoured with respect to the accumulation of multiple organic-rich shale intervals, source rock deposits, and related mature petroleum systems.

Now the effective and efficient management of these strategic energy reserves must reside with the responsible governmental organizations, which alone can establish policies and regulations to ensure that these vital national resources are not squandered, or adversely impact domestic as well as global environments4.

The learnings from Norway, a small nation of 5 million people, and their ability to create the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund of c. 1 Trillion dollars over the last 20 years5 on a volume only 5% of current estimated US reserve base, is advocated for the repayment of the 20 Trillion dollar US national debt over the coming decades.

The repayment period could then be followed by the creation of a US wealth fund to advance health, education, infrastructure, scientific research, and environmental stewardship on historic global scales.



  1. Scotchman, I.C., Shale gas and fracking: exploration for unconventional hydrocarbons. Proc. Geol. Assoc. (2016) in press
  2. IMF Working Paper, Middle East and Central Asia Department, An analysis of OPEC’s strategic actions, US shale growth and the 2014 oil price crash. by Alberto Behar and Robert A Ritz, Authorized for distribution by Tim Callen, July 2016.
  3. Nadeau P.H. and Reynolds, R.C.Jr., 1981, Burial and Contact Metamorphism in the Mancos Shale, Clays and Clay Minerals, 29, 249-259. ; Nadeau P.H. and Reynolds, R. C. Jr., 1981, Volcanic Components in Pelitic Sediments, Nature, 294, 72-74. ; Passey, Q.R., Bohacs, K.M., Esch, W.L., Klimentidis, R., and S. Sinha, My Source Rock is Now My Reservoir -Geologic and Petrophysical Characterization of Shale Gas Reservoirs. Search and Discovery Article #80231 (2012) Posted June 25, 2012, Adapted from 2011-2012 AAPG Distinguished Lecture. ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co., Houston, Texas.
  4. US Dept. of Energy, Shale Gas 101. ; Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Guidance on fracking: developing shale oil and gas in the UK. Updated 11 April 2016.
  5. NorgesBank Investment Management,

e-mail distribution address of the Potomac Geophysical Society

UMD Geology: Pratt on Coastal Plain strata in earthquakes

2017 Geology Colloquium Series

Friday, February 3rd 2017 at 3:00 pm
in PLS 1140

Tom Pratt

The influence of eastern U.S. Atlantic Coastal Plain strata on earthquake ground motions, and damage in Washington, DC, during the 2011 Mineral, Virginia, Earthquake

During the 2011 Mw5.8 Mineral, VA earthquake, many buildings in Washington, DC, including national landmarks like the Washington National Cathedral, the Smithsonian “Castle,” and the Washington Monument, sustained damage despite being 130 km from the epicenter. The surprisingly large amount of damage from weak ground motions raises questions of how much the southeast-thickening sedimentary strata of the Atlantic Coastal Plain (ACP) strata beneath the city amplify and trap seismic energy. Partially consolidated ACP marine sedimentary strata overlie crystalline or indurated sedimentary rocks throughout coastal regions of the eastern U.S., extending more than 200 km inland from the coast. The strata taper landward from as much as 1 km near the coast to pinching out in the Washington, DC area. Shallow sedimentary strata are known to amplify earthquake ground motions due to low seismic impedance and strong reverberations. Between November 2! 014 and August 2015, we used 27 seismometers to measure ground motions across Washington, DC, using four sites on crystalline rocks as reference sites. We also used data from continental-scale seismic experiments that span the ACP to examine the influence of the broader ACP strata on earthquake ground motions. Recordings of teleseisms and regional earthquakes provided data with sufficiently high signal-to-noise for computing amplitude ratios relative to the bedrock sites. Amplifications of 10 or greater are found in the Washington, DC area due to the ACP strata, with the peak amplifications occurring near the estimated resonant frequencies of buildings throughout the city. Amplitudes decrease as the strata thicken, but even coastal sites on 600 m of ACP strata show amplification factors as great as 5. We use the frequency of the resonance peaks to invert for an average velocity function within the ACP strata. This work indicates that amplification of short-period ground mot! ions by thin ACP strata contributed to the damage in Washington, DC, d uring the 2011 earthquake, and documents longer-period amplifications that could affect larger structures beneath coastal regions of the eastern U.S. during earthquakes.

DC Science Café “Saving Science From Itself”

DC Science Café “Saving Science From Itself” – Jan 24, 2017

January 24 @ 6:30 pm8:30 pm


Dan Sarewitz

The scientific enterprise is a precious jewel in humanity’s narrative. It’s been the most reliable basis for uncovering provisional truths about how the world works, for technological innovation, and for decision-making on scales ranging from the personal to the global. But as Dan Sarewitz, co-director of the Consortium for

Thomas Will

Science, Policy & Outcomes at Arizona State University, sees it, the common and long-held claim that the self-direction of science accounts for its social benefits is a myth and has led to alarming flaws in science’s organization, funding, and reward systems. The most important foundation of the scientific enterprise — trust in its fundamental validity and social value — is now at risk, he says. Join Sarewitz and Will Thomas, an historian of science and a policy analyst at the American Institute of Physics, for an historically-anchored discussion about what ails science and what the remedies might be, the social benefits we should expect from our massive investment in science, and what’s at stake if we ignore inconvenient truths about the present state of scientific inquiry.

AEG: Swearingen on Controlled Release Environmental Reactants

AEG Members & Friends,

This is a notice that our first chapter meeting of 2017 will occur on Thursday January 19th  from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the office of ECS Mid-Atlantic LLC at 14026 Thunderbolt Place, in Chantilly, Virginia. The presentation, Controlled Release Environmental Reactants – Green and Sustainable Approach to In-Situ Remediation, will be given by Dr. Lindsay Swearingen, Co-Owner and Managing Partner at Specialty Earth Sciences.

Please use our E-Pay/RSVP system to register for this event.

Visit for all information about our chapter, upcoming events, etc!

We look forward to seeing you all there.

TOPIC: Controlled Release Environmental Reactants – Green and Sustainable Approach to In-Situ Remediation

 PRESENTER: Dr. Lindsay Swearingen – Co-owner and Managing Partner at Specialty Earth Sciences


 DATE: Thursday January 19, 2017

TIME:  6:00 pm to 8:00 p.m.


ECS Mid-Atlantic, LLC

14026 Thunderbolt Place

Suite 100

Chantilly, Virginia 20151


COST (dinner & meeting):

Members:                    $40

Non-members:            $45

Discounts Available:

Students save $20

Retirees save $10


6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.                         Check-In, Social Hour & Dinner

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.                         Section Business & Presentation


To reserve a seat, please visit our website & E-Pay System at:

Holtz on “Paranormal Geology” at NSF HQ

“Hollow Earth, Sunken Continents, and a World Made of Plankton? A Look at Paranormal Geology” at 1:30 p.m. on January 14 at the National Science Foundation, Room 110, 4201 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington. (Use the Ballston-MU Metro stop; enter NSF from the corner of 9th St. N. and N. Stuart St.)

A description of his talk: “The public is familiar with pseudoscientific interpretations of biology (Creationism, cryptozoology, etc.) and astronomy (astrology, UFO abductions, etc.), but all sciences have their pseudo-versions. There have been various pseudo-geologies proposed over the centuries: interpretations of the structure and composition of the Earth radically at odds with our current understanding. Among these are ideas that the Earth is hollow (various configurations, including a notable one where we are on the inside of curve!), sunken continents (Atlantis, Lemuria, and beyond), and a truly bizarre idea that all physical matter on Earth was once alive. Some of these ideas were proposed in a scientific context, but have survived in various circles long after their refutation. Dr. Holtz will examine the origins, beliefs, and fates of these alternate Earth interpretations.”

Sponsored by National Capital Area Skeptics, the event is free and open to the public. For further information, visit:

January 2017 meeting of the Paleontological Society of Washington

The Paleontological Society of Washington

7:00 pm, Wednesday, January 18

National Museum of Natural History, Constitution Ave. entrance

The Miocene Planet of the Apes

Ashley Hammond

Postdoctoral Scientist, Center for Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology (CASHP),

Department of Anthropology, George Washington University

There were probably more than 30 genera of apes alive throughout Africa and Eurasia during the Miocene (23-5 Mya), whereas there are just a handful alive in forests in Africa and SE Asia today. Here I will discuss the major locomotor transformations that occurred during ape evolution, as revealed by the anatomy of the pelvis and femur of fossil apes. We see that the majority of apes in the past moved differently from the apes that persist today, and that there was an increase in adaptations for suspensory locomotion relatively late during ape evolution.

Non-Smithsonian visitors will be escorted from the Constitution Ave. entrance of the NMNH to the Q?rius auditorium at 6:50 and 6:55 p.m. Society members will host the speaker for dinner at the Elephant & Castle (1201 Pennsylvania Ave.) prior to the meeting. Members may meet at the restaurant or inside the Constitution Ave. entrance of the NMNH at 5:00 and walk to the restaurant as a group.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy geology field trip

Geologic Excursion! — Saturday, March 25, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Location TBD. Join geologist Randy Orndorff and Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy as we take a geologic excursion across western Loudoun County. The geology of Virginia records more than 1 billion years of Earth history including four mountain-building events and subsequent drifting of continents. This trip will look at sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks that help geologists understand geologic history and how it impacts our lives today. The outing will require some short hikes, and participants should pack a lunch and beverage. Limit: 20 participants. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact