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Observations from Exploration Drilling in an Active Mud Volcano in the Southern Basin of Trinidad, West Indies

Maria Henry
Maria Henry
Henry GeoConsulting Services, Inc., Littleton, Colorado, U.S.A
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Michael Pentilla
Michael Pentilla
Target Surveys, Westminster, Colorado, U.S.A
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Darrell Hoyer
Darrell Hoyer
Hoyer Petrophysics, Inc., Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.A
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January 01, 2011


The Trinidad Exploration and Development Company drilled the Habanero 1 well within Trinidad's southern basin in an area of surface mud volcano flows and vents. The well location is along a trend of mud volcanoes that extends across northern Venezuela and southern Trin-idad. The upper 3200 ft (975 m) of the well drilled through interbedded mud volcano layers as confirmed by palynology, paleontology, lithology, well log, and seismic information. Below 3200 ft (975 m), the well drilled primarily country rock deposits of the upper Miocene through Pliocene Cruse Formation. Paleontology and palynology data give an age range of Eocene through Miocene for the mud volcano material; the highest recovery of foraminifera and dino-cysts were from the Oligocene-Miocene Cipero and Lengua formations.

Several drilling problems were encountered, especially in the shallow, mudflow-rich part of the hole. Drilling issues included lost circulation intervals and the necessity for high mud weights (up to 17.5 ppg), to control high pressures. The well encountered numerous oil and gas shows, but no commercial hydrocarbons were tested.

Seismic data in the area illustrate a downward-tapering cone of disruption around mud volcano vents, with numerous faults providing conduits for the flow of mud. Drilling samples confirmed this interpretation, because the zones described as faulted commonly coincided with an influx of exotic mudflow material.

Subsurface logs measured decreased resistivity, lower density, and higher interval transit time (slower velocity) in mud volcano layers relative to intervals of country rock formations. These intervals are anomalous even when compared to log data for overpressured shale zones in neighboring wells. The Habanero 1 checkshot survey documents shallow mud volcano layers with velocities slower than the velocity of water, perhaps caused by the presence of entrained gases within the matrix of the mud. Refraction static velocities are also anomalously slow around Habanero 1 and along the trend of mud volcanoes.

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Figures & Tables


AAPG Memoir

Shale Tectonics

Lesli J. Wood
Lesli J. Wood
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2011




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