Abstract

This study explores the distribution of Paleozoic formations in the Central Alberta Basin and investigates rock properties with regard to their usability as geothermal reservoirs. The study area of this regional-scale investigation is about 160 km × 200 km in size and located around Edmonton where the basin depth ranges between 1.8 and 3.5 km. A three-dimensional (3D) geological model was developed based on stratigraphic tops from about 7000 wells from the database of the Alberta Geological Survey (AGS). Spatial distribution and thickness of deep formations were established in the 3D geological model. Porosity and permeability of four Devonian carbonate formations — Cooking Lake, Leduc, and Nisku formations, and Wabamun Group — were investigated using data from more than 50 000 core analyses. Average porosity of the Devonian strata in the study area ranges from 4.5% (Nisku) to 8.7% (Wabamun), average permeability is between 3.5 × 10−15 m2 (Wabamun) and 26 × 10−15 m2 (Leduc). The distribution of both parameters was analyzed using geostatistical methods. Based on an average geothermal gradient and the geometry of formations from the 3D modeling study, an estimation of formation temperatures for the Paleozoic formations is presented. Temperature in the Cambrian Basal Sandstone Unit ranges from 62 °C in the shallower northeast (1.8 km) to 122 °C in the deeper southwest (3.5 km); temperature in the Devonian strata ranges from 22 to 87 °C. With these new results, potential geothermal reservoirs can be delineated in the Alberta Basin around Edmonton, enabling future detailed exploration and field development.

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