N296 The Exploration Game: Predicting Subsurface Geology from Outcrop in a Fold and Thrust Belt (Provençal Alps, France)

Course Facts

Course Code:
7 days
Physical Demand:
5.6 Continuing Education Units
56 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


The course involves the construction of viable geological cross sections from geological maps and outcrop. The sections are used to predict the stratigraphic sequence in a well in the unexposed foreland basin ahead of the mountain front; this information enables participants to unravel the basin evolution and the hydrocarbon potential. Participants work in small teams to construct the sections and at the end of the course each team presents their well prediction and basin analysis to the group for informal critique and discussion. 

Duration and Training Method

A seven-day field course where participants will work in teams of three or four and conduct semi-independent fieldwork. Tutors will meet individual groups at critical localities and make sure that their field interpretations are reasonable. The week should serve as valuable reminder of what tackling real geology is like. Classroom instruction is limited to the essentials of structural geology needed to complete the field projects.

The approximate split of field to class time is 70:30.

Participants will learn to:

  1. Execute a field data gathering programme with the objective of obtaining selected and appropriate data for the construction of regional cross sections.
  2. Construct viable cross-sections using outcrop and various other data in the field.
  3. Interpret structures in three dimensions and the likely complexities of basin evolution.
  4. Demonstrate a basin history from field-based studies.
  5. Predict play fairways locally and in basins remote from areas of outcrop.
  6. Compare the value of inexpensively acquired field data and contrast it to the more costly data commonly employed in an exploration settings.
  7. Analyse successive episodes of folding and thrusting superimposed on a rifted area with very significant stratigraphic variation.

Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

Rod Graham

Robin Pilcher