Fall 2016 - Patricia Allwardt

Celebrating Diversity in the Earth & Atmospheric Sciences Department

Supported by Conoco Phillips Canada

The Role of Structural Geology in Exploration Risk Assessment

Nov 18th 2016: Dr. Patricia F. Allwardt

Patricia Allwardt Poster (talk)

Talk abstract:

Understanding regional and local scale structure is crucial to the assessment of petroleum system risk elements during the subsurface characterization of exploration opportunities. At the play scale, crustal architecture and regional rift geometries impact the deposition of source rock, reservoir, and seal intervals; and crustal heat flows and overburden thickness impact source rock maturation and reservoir quality. Local structural evolution impacts trap configuration, reservoir presence and thickness, seal preservation and integrity, charge timing, and fetch and migration considerations. This presentation provides an overview of the impact of structural evolution on each of the petroleum system risk elements, drawing on examples from various global offshore basins. It then reviews a case study from the heavily salt modified deep water Gulf of Mexico basin.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the deposition of 40,000 to 50,000 ft of Upper Mesozoic and Cenozoic sediments above a thick (up to 15,000 ft) Callovian autochthonous salt layer, which overlies basement of varying architecture, has led to the development of a complex sedimentary basin that is punctuated by mobile salt and its remnants. Our interpretation of the salt framework reveals that salt tectonic style varies systematically across the northern Gulf of Mexico and can be spatially characterized. Within this framework, we differentiate and define domains of distinct salt tectonic style in which trap geometries and formation mechanisms are similar, and leads share common critical risks. This type of analysis provides input for where to focus exploration work program efforts.


Tricia Allwardt is a structural geologist with ConocoPhillips in Houston, TX. She received a B.A. in earth and planetary sciences from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in structural geology and geomechanics from Stanford University. Since joining ConocoPhillips in 2006, she has spent 4 years working on worldwide reservoir structure and geomechanics projects in Technology, and 6 years in Exploration contributing to the Gulf of Mexico, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland exploration programs. Tricia is currently transitioning to a position in ConocoPhillips’ Eagle Ford Development organization. She is an AAPG, EAGE, and HGS member and has served as an Associate Editor for the AAPG Bulletin since 2010.

About the Speaker Series

The Grace Anne Stewart Speaker Series connects students and faculty of the Earth and Atmospheric Science (EAS) department to a greater diversity of female scientists by inviting two female scientists to visit the department each year. The program is designed to expand the professional networks of faculty and students, foster discussion about gender equity, and provide students with more female role models/mentors.

Grace Anne Stewart Speakers are invited to participate in several events during a 1-2 day visit:

  • A one-hour research talk presented as part of the ATLAS talk series. These talks are coordinated by the EAS department’s graduate student society and are attended by department students (graduate and some undergraduate), post-doctoral researchers, and faculty members.
  • A ‘Behind the Scenes’ informal question and answer session where graduate students can learn more about the speaker’s career path.
  • A wine and cheese social event with department faculty and graduate students.
  • Additional small group or one-on-one meetings with faculty or students with shared interests. These might include lab tours or class visits.

For more information or to express your interest in the Grace Anne Stewart Speaker Series please contact: eas.inquiries@ualberta.ca


Graduate students meeting with Dr. Allwardt

Nicholas Harris (EAS Professor and Director of the IPG Program) and Patricia Allwardt

Graduate students and post-docs attending the networking event

Alberto Reyes (EAS Assistant Professor) and Patricia Allwardt

Organising Committee and Dr. Allwardt (From left: Danielle Simkus, Patricia Allwardt and Janina Czas)