PETROENG 7058 - Petroleum Geology and Geophysics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2024

This course provides a working knowledge of the main qualitative and quantitative techniques used by petroleum geoscientists in finding and evaluating subsurface resources. Basic techniques utilised in geological and geophysical analyses of the subsurface are discussed. Practical application of these techniques are demonstrated in exercises. The Petroleum Geology section provides a detailed description of clastic and carbonate reservoir rocks, with the unifying theme being that reservoir location, shape and properties can be understood and predicted from knowledge of the environments in which the sediments forming the rocks were deposited, and the various processes which occur following deposition (diagenesis). The behaviour of fluids in reservoir rocks is covered next, with capillary pressure principles as a basic concept for understanding issues such as vertical and lateral distribution of fluids in a reservoir, seal capacity, and recovery efficiency. Volumetric reserve estimation is covered next, followed by discussions on enhanced oil recovery, unconventional reservoirs and the storage of carbon dioxide and hydrogen in reservoir rocks as applications of petroleum geology principles towards greenhouse gas emissions abatement as part of the energy transition. The Petroleum Geophysics section of the course presents an introduction to refraction and reflection seismology, the latter being the main geophysical method used in hydrocarbon exploration and development. After an outline of the various types of information that can be obtained using the method, the basic physics at its heart is described - the reflection of (sound) waves from acoustic interfaces within the earth, and the refraction and attenuation of these waves as they travel down and back up to the surface. The interpretation of the data to produce maps or models of the reflecting interfaces is covered, and this section includes a brief description of seimsic surveying and the data processing techniques required to produce the seismic images which the interpreter works with. The section concludes with specialist uses of seismic reflection survey data for advanced interpretation, reservoir evaluation and production monitoring. A series of spreadsheet exercises illustrate technical principles of seismic reflection theory.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PETROENG 7058
    Course Petroleum Geology and Geophysics
    Coordinating Unit Earth Sciences
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive short course
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment Examination, exercises, quizzes
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Mark Bunch

    Petroleum Geology: Prof. Simon Holford
    Petroleum Geophysics: Dr Mark Bunch
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:
    1 Learn basic principles of geology and how it applies to petroleum exploration and field development
    2 Understand the principles of sedimentology and stratigraphy for both clastic and carbonate reservoir rocks with particular emphasis on deposition and diagenesis.
    3 Understand the basic principles of structural geology and its implications for petroleum trapping systems.
    4 Learn principles, tools and processes for determining the petrophysical properties of source, reservoir and sealing rocks, and their importance to production from wells. Practice using these tools and processes with hands-on exercises.
    5 Learn methods for estimating volumetric reserves in discovered hydrocarbon accumulations and review examples of how reservoir characterization studies lead to better field management
    6 Illustrate basic principles of Geological Carbon Sequestration (GCS) and temporary Underground Hydrogen Storage (UHS) and how the principles of petroleum geology can be applied to these new energy transition technologies.
    7 Understand the fundamental principles of reflection seismology and seismic reflection surveying.
    8 Understand the techniques used to interpret seismic data and the utility of this information in the exploration for and development of hydrocarbon fields.
    9 Understand the principles of 4D (time-lapse) seismic reflection surveying for use as a petroleum production monitoring tool.

    The above course learning outcomes are aligned with the Engineers Australia Entry to Practice Competency Standard for the Professional Engineer. The course develops the following EA Elements of Competency to levels of introductory (A), intermediate (B), advanced (C):  

    C C C C
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Softcopy of slides used in lectures. Exercise materials distributed in both hardcopy during class sessions and in digital softcopy form through the University of Adelaide Learning Management System (LMS) called MyUni.
    Recommended Resources
    There is no single text that covers all the material in this course. The lecturers will recommend useful reference texts during the course.  However, the following will be helpful:

    • Alley, M., 2003. The craft of scientific presentations: critical steps to succeed and critical errors to avoid. New York: Springer,
    • Alley, M., 2018. The Craft of Scientific Writing. 10.1007/978-1-4419-8288-9. New York: Springer,
    • Asquith G. & Krygowski D., 2004. Basic Well Log Analysis (2nd Ed), AAPG Methods in Exploration Series No.16 (in ASPER Library)
    • Brown, AR, 2011. Interpretation of Three-Dimensional Seismic Data, 7th Edition, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa.
    • Ellis, D.V. and Singer, J.M., 2008. Well Logging for Earth Scientists (2nd Edition), Springer Science, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
    • Evans, B.J., 1997. A Handbook for Seismic Acquisition in Exploration. SEG Geophysical Monograph Series No 7.
    • Gluyas, J. and Swarbrick, R., 2003. Petroleum Geoscience. Wiley-Blackwell, 376 pp.
    • Jones, T. A., Hamilton, D. E., Johnson, C. R., 1986. Contouring geologic surfaces with the computer: New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 320 p.
    • Knaflic, C.N., 2015. Storytelling with data: a data visualization guide for business professionals. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    • Magoon, L.B. and Dow, W.G., 1994. The Petroleum System - from Source to Trap. AAPG Memoir 60.
    • North, F.K., 1985. Petroleum Geology. Allen & Unwin.
    • Rider, M., 1986. The Geological Interpretation of Well Logs. (2nd Edition). Whittles Publishing, UK. (in ASPER Library)
    • Tucker, P. M., 1988, Seismic contouring—a unique skill: Geophysics, v. 53, n. 6, p. 741–749
    • Van Wagoner, J.C. et al. (1992) Siliclastic Sequence Stratigraphy in Well Logs, Cores, and Outcrops: Concepts for High-Resolution Correlation of Time and Facies. AAPG Methods in Exploration Series, No 7.
    • Yilmaz, O., 2001. Seismic Data Analysis, Processing, Inversion, and Interpretation of Seismic Data. SEG Investigations in Geophysics No 10.
    • Zoraster, S., 1996. Imposing geologic interpretations on computer-generated contours using distance transformations. Mathematical Geology. 28. 969-985.
    Online Learning
    Good sources of help with learning are the downloadable learning guides (Writing, Effective Reading, Making Notes, Time Management, Exam Prep, etc) and links to other learning resources at -

    In addition, the following external sites provide information about Petroleum Geology & Geophysics principles:

    Crain's Petrophysical Handbook


    Society of Exploration Geophysicists wiki - Seismic Data Info

    American Association of Petroleum Geologists wiki - Seismic Interpretation Info

    Agile Geoscience - Machine Learning & Geophysics Data resources
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The block-course format is the norm for 4th year and post-graduate courses in the ASP, and is universally used in industry for continued professional development and training.

    One of the advantages of the block-course format is that you can immerse yourself in a single subject, without distraction or having to “re-load” for each session. Another is that there is no need to force-fit the material to the 1hr lecture/tute format – each topic can be addressed in the time it needs. Yet another advantage is that it provides an opportunity for immediate feedback as exercises are carried out, and solutions presented, in-class, after the concept has been taught.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    This course comprises 6 days of full-time work (9am to 5 pm), involving a mixture of lectures, exercises and practical work. This is split into two 3 day blocks – one for the Petroleum Geology component, and the other for the Petroleum Geophysics component. The total contact hours are approximately the same as would be delivered in a 3 unit semesterised course. In addition, you will be expected to spend time outside of class on take-home assignments, finishing the project, revision, etc.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The main topics covered in the course will be as follows:

    Petroleum Geology

    · Overview of petroleum geology
         - assessment of risk
         - sources of geological data
         - traps
         - reservoirs and seals
         - the reservoir team

    · Clastic reservoirs
    · Carbonate reservoirs
    · Capillary pressure principles
    · Reserves evaluation
    · Carbon capture and storage

    Petroleum Geophysics
    · Introduction
         - Types of Information obtained from seismic data
    · Basics of the reflection seismic method
         - the seismic trace, section and volume
         - the convolutional model – reflection coefficients, travel times and wavelet
         - wave propagation – reflection, refraction and attenuation
         - resolution and velocity
    · Basics of Interpretation
         - 2D vs 3D
         - Well ties
         - Interpretation procedure
         - Depth conversion
    · Reservoir Interpretation
         - Amplitude interpretation for seismically thin beds
         - Direct Hydrocarbon Indicators
         - Seismic Attributes
         - 4D seismic
    Specific Course Requirements
    As a student, you are expected to attend practical class/workshop sessions either in person or remotely via interactive video conference, to undertake the activities set for completion during class time and to prepare for out-of-class work assignments that you will submit for assessment.

    Full details regarding assessment items are provided in an 'Assessment Information' page of the university Learning Management System called MyUni.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Weighting (%) Individual/ Group Assessment Type
    (Formative/ Summative)
    Due (week)*
    Hurdle criteria Learning outcomes
    In class Exercises - Geology 25 Group Summative Week 3 N 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
    In class Exercises - Geophysics 25 Group Summative Week 4 N 1. 7. 8.
    Take-home Exam - Geology 25 Individual Formative Week 12 N
    Take-home Exam - Geophysics 25 Individual Formative Week 12 N
    Total 100
    * The specific due date for each assessment task will be available on MyUni.
    This assessment breakdown is registered as an exemption to the University's Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy. The exemption is related to the Procedures clause(s): 1. a. i
    Assessment Related Requirements
    There is no requirement to achieve a minimum mark in any individual component of the assessment.
    Additional Assessment: if an Additional Assessment is required for any student, the course co-ordinator reserves the right, as per university policy, to use a range of assessment measures. Such measures may include oral assessment, additional assignments, and questions of the same type as the main exam.
    Assessment Detail
    The final summative assessment will be a 2-hour equivalent open-book online quiz, released within the official examination period at the end of the semester. It will comprise Petroleum Geology and Petroleum Geophysics sections, each of nominally 1 hour duration. The weighting of the marks for each section in the final mark will be 30% for the Geology section, and 30% for the Geophysics section. The Geology section will comprise short answer, multiple choice and true or false sections. The Geophysics section will comprise mainly questions requiring short essay-style answers (ranging in length from one or two sentences to a half page paragraph).
    Submission of Assignment
    You will be advised of the due dates for submission of exercises and the group project in class.

    Extensions for Assessment Tasks
    Extensions of deadlines for assessment tasks may be allowed for reasonable causes. Such situations would include compassionate and medical grounds of the severity that would justify the awarding of a supplementary examination. Evidence for the grounds must be provided when an extension is requested. Students are required to apply for an extension to the Course Co-ordinator before the assessment task is due. Extensions will not be provided on the grounds of poor prioritising of time or minor illness.

    Penalty for Late Submission of Assessment Tasks
    Assessment tasks must be submitted by the stated deadlines. There will be a penalty for late submission of assessment tasks. The submitted work will be marked ‘without prejudice’ and 10% of the obtained mark will be deducted for each working day (or part of a day) that an assessment task is late, up to a maximum penalty of 50% of the mark attained.

    An examiner may elect not to accept any assessment task that a student wants to submit after that task has been marked and feedback provided to the rest of the class.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Fail - Answers or work that fail to address the description of assessment criteria in any way or no answers or work provided.

    Pass - Inconsistent, partially correct execution with mistakes that should have been spotted if the theory is understood; interpretations or observations that are partially correct or insightful but that are inconsistent with each other or with theory.

    Credit - Execution is conventional and generally correct, being appropriate though sometimes in conflict with theory; a few internal inconsistencies in approach or between outcomes demonstrating lack of contextual reflection; observations and interpretations are generic, lacking in originality and may be wrong.

    Distinction - Most execution is correct and in line with theory, with mistakes being rare - credit given for errors that were carried forward if the subsequent approach was correct; errors that lead to unrealistic outcomes are penalised for lack of contextual reflection; interpretation or observations that are mostly correct, in line with theory and demonstrate some extended thinking, though they may lack detail and/or may only be partially representative of all pertinent considerations.

    High Distinction - Exemplary execution with work demonstrating flair and originality; final answers are correct and demonstrate work of a professional standard.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    It is important that all students maintain active communication channels throughout the year. The primary communication channels to students in this course are as follows.

    Email: Each student should regularly check his or her University-provided email account ( for information from academic staff concerning course work matters and other announcements as they arise. Make sure you clean up your Inbox regularly as if it is full you will not receive our email! We will regard an email message to your student email address, or an announcement posted on the MyUni site, as our having communicated with each member of the class. Not reading email or MyUni announcements will not be a valid excuse for missing important deadlines etc.

    MyUni: Students should regularly check the MyUni website (
  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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