Interpreting shale lithofacies is an important step in identifying productive zones in the Marcellus Shale gas play; the target reservoir can be less than 3 m (10 ft) thick with overlying shales that appear similar on certain petrophysical well logs and in the core. However, these nonreservoir-quality shales contain widely varying organic and mechanical properties. To distinguish between reservoir- and nonreservoir-quality shale facies, this classification method applies a pattern-recognition algorithm, expectation maximization, to a set of commonly available petrophysical and elastic well logs to create 1D shale facies models along the wellbore. The statistical algorithm classifies the petrophysical and elastic well-log data into defined facies using the theory that each well log contains a distribution of Gaussian curves for each facies. The method is applied to 12 wells across Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia, and it is able to discriminate between shale facies based on organic content and brittleness, characteristics which are not always evident in core. To verify the geologic accuracy of the facies models, the results are compared with the core data, well logs, mudlogs, and regional stratigraphic studies when available. In addition, we were able to designate a lithofacies-defined top to the Marcellus Formation in parts of the Appalachian Basin where the gradational contact with the overlying Mahantango Formation is poorly defined on petrophysical logs.

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