Monthly Luncheon With Guest Speakers Katie Joe McDonough & Friso Brouwer

02/13/2020 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

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Date(s) - 02/13/2020
11:30 am - 1:00 pm

Wynkoop Brewery

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February 13, 2020

Wynkoop Brewery

1634 18th Street

Denver 80202


Guest Speakers Katie Joe McDonough & Friso Brouwer

Comparing Stratigraphic Architecture and Petroleum Systems Across the South Atlantic Margin

Katie-Joe McDonough1, 2, Friso Brouwer1, 3, Brian W. Horn1, Kyle R. Reuber1Extensive offshore areas of the South Atlantic eastern and western continental margins remain underexplored, despite significant recent hydrocarbon discoveries. Recent discoveries and tests attest to functioning petroleum systems on both sides of the conjugate South Atlantic margin, in reservoirs ranging from near-shore shelf carbonates to deep-water siliciclastic reservoirs. South of the salt provinces, offshore Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina host multiple underexplored basins. Exploration wells drilled along the conjugate African margin support that Early and Late Cretaceous petroleum systems exist in this area. Source-reservoir couplets and plays identified on each of the margins suggest that petroleum habitats emerging on one margin potentially exist on the other side as well.

We compare the stratigraphic evolution of continental margins on opposite sides of the South Atlantic Ocean. South America and Africa began to drift apart with the Early Cretaceous opening of the Atlantic Ocean. We generate detailed chronostratigraphic interpretations—HorizonCubes—in dGB OpendTect from four seismic profiles offshore Brazil, Uruguay and the conjugate margin of northern and southern Namibia. The four HorizonCubes depict high-resolution stratal architecture and evolution of the post-rift sequences as the South Atlantic margins drifted apart. We compare HorizonCubes to document similarities and differences on the margins, relate these to petroleum system evolution, and predict other potential hydrocarbon fairways. We integrate results of thermal maturity modeling to further hone the play fairways where source, reservoir and appropriate maturity history coincide.

Prior to rifting and opening of the South Atlantic, the margins shared a similar geologic evolution. During Aptian/Albian time, marine anoxic source rocks were deposited on both margins in distal settings as the margins stepped landward. These source rocks are juxtaposed with synchronous lowstand systems which are productive in Namibia but not yet in Uruguay. Stratigraphic architecture on each of the opposing margins naturally began to diverge with increasing separation of the continents. On the Turonian Uruguayan margin, two-phase shelf margin aggradation gave rise to shelf reservoir buildups and slope-failure-related deep water reservoirs, with intervening condensed source rocks. The contemporaneous Namibian margin experienced similar two-phase aggradation with steeper shelf profiles, which gave rise to more persistent lowstand development in deep water Namibia. The synchronous lowstand at the K-T suggests simultaneous large-scale (global) regression on both margins. The rest of the Tertiary, shows increasing cycle asynchroneity, with high-resolution T-R cycles on the lower-gradient Namibian shelf. The Miocene sections shows the most disparity in architecture, with simultaneous regression in Namibia and transgression in Brazil.

Our comparison demonstrates that variation in stratigraphic architecture dictates predictable variation in reservoir/trap configurations. Our evolving understanding of petroleum systems on both sides of the South Atlantic suggests that developing joint stratigraphic frameworks on both sides of the Atlantic aids depositional history interpretation and identification of play types and models.


  1. ION E&P Advisors, Houston, TX, United States.
    2. KJM Consulting, Pine, CO, United States.
    3. I^3 GEO, Denver, CO, United States

About The Speakers:

Katie-Joe McDonough, PhD., is a Denver-based geological/geophysical consultant specializing in seismic/sequence stratigraphy and multi-disciplinary integration. She focuses on multi-scale stratigraphic analyses and process sedimentology for exploration play assessment and reservoir-scale development.

Katie Joe began her career as a geophysicist with Exxon USA, which kindled her interest in seismic sequence stratigraphy. She next decamped to Colorado School of Mines, where she earned her Ph.D. (Geology ‘97) relating seismic-scale outcrop geometries to their sedimentology on a carbonate platform in the Southern Alps. Katie Joe launched her consulting practice in 1995 and has enjoyed over 25 years of working diverse, multi-scale data sets for worldwide and domestic petroleum industry clients. She works continental to deep marine stratigraphy of conventional and unconventional plays on five of the world’s continents and offshore areas (so far). Recently she’s focused on stratigraphic applications in unconventional plays of the DJ, Permian, Powder River, and Appalachian basins. She also currently serves as an industry advisor/mentor to local YPs and CSM geophysics graduate students in the Reservoir Characterization Project.

Dr. McDonough and her ION Geophysical co-authors won the 2017 AAPG Best Poster at the Annual Convention for an earlier version of the work presented here today.


Friso Brouwer is a geophysical consultant and owner of I^3 GEO based in the Denver area. Friso is an allround geophysical expert, with a focus on seismic interpretation, seismic inversion & rock property prediction and multi-disciplinary integration.

Friso started his industry career in 2002, after finishing his Master degree in Applied Geophysics at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. He has worked for dGB Earth Sciences and Ikon Geophysical in various technical and managerial positions. As a consultant his current project work covers both the onshore conventional & unconventional , and offshore domains and includes horizon and fault interpretation, seismic sequence stratigraphy, rock physics, seismic inversion and machine learning.

Friso was involved in various parts of the work that will be presented, including noise reduction in the seismic data, processing the OpendTect HorizonCube and assisting Katie-Joe with the geological interpretation.











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