Unatego Area Landowners Association



Otego - Unadilla - Butternuts Area Residents

                    The Geological History of New York State

          The Appalachian Basin in the northeastern United States is an important hydrocarbon province that has been producing oil and gas since the early 1800’s. More than 40 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas and

millions of barrels of oil have been produced from reservoir rocks of all ages. Devonian-age shales are a

significant resource in the basin. Their coal-like appearance, wide spread distribution, and stratigraphic

nearness to the surface led to interest and use as an energy source dating back to the 1700’s. The Devonian

Shale of the basin has been estimated to contain up to 900 Tcf of natural gas, and an estimated 120,000

wells have produced roughly 3.0 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in the past 30 years. In addition to

Devonian Shale, other stratigraphically older and deeper black shales are present in the basin, and the

organic-rich Ordovician shales are believed to be a principle source rock for many of the productive

reservoirs in the basin. These shales, though not frequently produced, are often noted in driller’s logs to

have significant gas shows when drilling through them, and may be potential reservoirs.

 

          New York forms the northern edge of the Appalachian Basin that exists from southern Ontario to

Tennessee. With few exceptions, the state’s bedrock primarily consists of Devonian-age and older

formations. The younger rocks lie to the south and all sedimentary formations outcrop to the north, at the

edge of the Adirondack uplift. The Ordovician and Cambrian become visible again in the St. Lawrence

Lowlands.

 

          Curiosity about the black shales of New York from a geologic perspective and as a fuel source dates back to the late 1700’s. The black coal-like appearance and slightly combustible nature of the shales were of

interest to the coal industry, and gas seeps in creek beds motivated early explorationists to study the rocks

and find use for them. The first know commercial shale gas well was drilled in 1821 in the town of

Fredonia, Chatauqua County, New York near a gas seep along Canadaway Creek. The well, drilled by

William Aaron Hart, was completed as a gas producer in the shallow Dunkirk shale. The well was connected

to pipeline and provided natural gas to Fredonia’s main street businesses and street lamps in

the 1820’s. Following Hart’s success, the development and use of shale gas proliferated along the south

shore of Lake Erie, eventually spreading southward into Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. By

the turn of the century hundreds if not thousands of wells had been drilled along the lake shore and in the

basin, and were producing shale gas for domestic and small commercial use. However as exploration

advanced, the development of shale gas wells diminished in favor of more productive conventional oil and

gas horizons. It was observed early on that shale gas was tight, and while successful wells produced

steadily over long periods of time, production volumes were extremely variable and unpredictable, but

usually low (<100 mcfd). The mechanisms controlling production from these wells were not understood,

and the technology to optimize production was in its infancy.

 

          The rocks in New York have been impacted by at least one of the three major Paleozoic tectonic events. This has left the subsurface folded, fractured, and compressed. Also, numerous sea level changes created significant unconformities including the Knox Unconformity. Studies indicate that the Devonian age and older rocks underwent deep burial before being uplifted to their current elevation. This tectonic history

created the environment for hydrocarbon development and the trapping mechanisms to accumulate

economic quantities of oil and natural gas. Ordovician and younger rocks make up the central and western portions of the state which encompass the Ontario Lowlands and Allegany Plateau. Lake Ontario and the Adirondack Mountains form the northern boundary, the eastern margin is formed by the Hudson Lowlands and Taconic Mountains, and to the west terminates at the shore of Lake Erie. The structure of this region is fairly

simple. Paleozoic rocks overlying the Precambrian crystalline basement outcrop along the northern extent

of the Allegany Plateau, and dip gently to the southwest. In the southern portion of New York, a series of

small-scale folds are present, extending from Chatauqua to Tioga counties. The folds are small anticlines,

dipping less than 2o, which are associated with the Appalachian Fold Belt, an arcuate belt of anticlines and

synclines that extend southward into West Virginia.

 

          In the last 1 million years, New York has endured significant continental glaciation, with ice thicknesses approaching one mile. Glacial loading and post-glacial isostatic rebound in the gas-producing regions to the south of the Great Lakes appears to have created the fractured pathways for gas to have migrated from black shale source rocks into intercalated brittle silty and sandy reservoirs, as well as to have fractured and enhanced the storage capacity of these reservoirs  The ice at its maximum extent is estimated to have been over 1 mile thick, and theshear weight of the ice sheet caused the region to compress and sag. When the ice melted, ocean water temporarily flooded low-lying areas in the Champlain and St. Lawrence valleys that had been depressed forming the Champlain sea. Many marine deposits of this sea are now found at elevations exceeding 300 feet, indicating rebound of the region occurred. In the south where the glacial ice was thinner the rebound was less, however in the north where the ice was thicker, the rebound is over 400 feet. The uneven rebound is seen throughout northern New York. Glacial lake deposits that were once horizontal are now inclined to the north, and in the Lake Ontario region, the whole are has been tilted north to south. Post glacial rebound is now complete in New York, however the near-surface joint system has been enhanced and opened by the release of the glacial weight. The presence of horizontal fractures in the Devonian is mentioned in well records, and has been attributed to glacial unloading.

Excerpts taken from:  FRACTURED SHALE GAS POTENTIAL IN NEW YORK, By HILL, LOMBARDI & MARTIN (1992)  http://www.pe.tamu.edu/wattenbarger/public_html/Selected_papers/--Shale%20Gas/fractured%20shale%20gas%20potential%20in%20new%20york.pdf

Two similar black shales: Devonian Marcellus and Ordovician Utica.

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The Depth to Gas-bearing Shale Units in Western Otsego County - Les Hasbargen, Earth Sciences Department SUNY Oneonta Faculty Research Show 2/12/10

http://employees.oneonta.edu/hasbarle/Pubs/2010-FRS-Depth%20to%20Gas%20Shales.pdf 

 Abstract

 Otsego County is underlain by two significant gas shale units—the Marcellus shale and the Utica Shale. Both of these units contain substantial quantities of natural gas, and gas development companies are now targeting these units for exploitation. Development of this gas play hinges on hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking), a technique which utilizes directional drilling (often called horizontal drilling), to increase permeability, and thus drain gas from the unit. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has recently issued a draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement which outlines general case scenarios where no location specific Environmental Impact Statement is required. Some well site locations will require a special environmental assessment, namely in places where the target gas shale unit is less than 2000 feet below the ground surface, or where there is less than 1000 feet of separation between the target unit and a known drinking water aquifer. Thus, knowledge of the depth to target shale units is of fundamental importance.

 I present a model for the depth to the Marcellus and Utica shales in Otsego County along its western border, essentially following the Butternut Valley. I combine digital geologic data from the New York State Museum, well log data from online digital records at Empire State Oil and Gas Information System, and topographic data from the United States Geologic Survey digital spatial data server to develop a calibrated model of the subsurface stratigraphy beneath western Otsego County. The results of the model delineate an area north of which an additional environmental assessment will be required. Citizens and landowners in western Otsego County may find the model useful for planning purposes.

 The stratigraphic model depends strongly on the gentle southwesterly inclination (that is, the dip) of geologic formations underlying Otsego County. Determining the dip of geologic layers is most often performed in the field, where bedding surfaces provide suitable locations to measure the orientation of the layers. In regions where sedimentary layers dip gently (1° or less) obtaining reliable field measurements can be challenging, especially where layers are poorly exposed. In such cases, the orientation of rock layers can be derived from the combination of geologic maps of formation contacts and topography. Each layer can be treated as a dipping plane, and by measuring three points on the plane, a solution to a planar equation will yield the bed orientation. I implement this model in a spreadsheet, plotting topography extracted from digital data, solving for the strike and dip of formation contacts, and utilizing equations to extend formation contacts into the subsurface. I compare the model results to well log records as a test of model assumptions and as a means of calibrating the model (mainly the dip angle). The results highlight the necessity of coupling well log with surface geologic data to adequately refine the model.

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                           Soil Survey of Otsego County

This soil survey contains information that affects land use planning in this survey area. It contains predictions of soil behavior for selected land uses. The survey also highlights soil limitations, improvements needed to overcome the limitations, and the impact of selected land uses on the environment. 

This soil survey is designed for many different users. Farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agronomists can use it to evaluate the potential of the soil and the management needed for maximum food and fiber production. Planners, community officials, engineers, developers, builders, and home buyers can use the survey to plan land use, select sites for construction, and identify special practices needed to ensure proper performance. Conservationists, teachers, students, and specialists in recreation, wildlife management, waste disposal, and pollution control can use thesurvey to help them understand, protect, and enhance the environment.

Various land use regulations of Federal, State, and local governments may impose special restrictions on land use or land treatment. The information in this report is intended to identify soil properties that are used in making various land use or landtreatment decisions. Statements made in this report are intended to help the land users identify and reduce the effects of soil limitations on various land uses. The landowner or user is responsible for identifying and complying with existing laws andregulations.

Great differences in soil properties can occur within short distances. Some soils are seasonally wet or subject to flooding. Some are shallow to bedrock. Some are too unstable to be used as a foundation for buildings or roads. Clayey or wet soils arepoorly suited to use as septic tank absorption fields. A high water table makes a soil poorly suited to basements or underground installations. 

These and many other soil properties that affect land use are described in this soilsurvey. Broad areas of soils are shown on the general soil map. The location of each soil is shown on the detailed soil maps. Each soil in the survey area is described. Information on specific uses is given for each soil. Help in using this publication andadditional information are available at the local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service or the Cooperative Extension Service.

                         SOIL SURVEY (3.8 MB)                                         http://soildatamart.nrcs.usda.gov/Manuscripts/NY077/0/Otsego.pdf

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OTSEGO SOILS & TERRAIN

Included in the landforms of Otsego County are hills or small mountains, most of which are less than 1,000 feet in height. The altitude of Otsego County is 1,192 feet above sea level in Oneonta, and 1,264 feet in Cooperstown. There are three main lakes in the County, including Otsego Lake, Canadarago Lake, and Goodyear Lake.

There are eleven general types of soil in Otsego County. The most productive soils are concentrated in the very southern and northernmost portions of the County. Good soils are found along the stream and river corridors.

Test the soil: Contact your local Extension office for information about soil testing or to receive a soil pH kit or a soil test bag. Basic soil tests can tell you whether or not you will need to apply lime or sulfur to adjust the acidity of your soil, and let you know whether your soil is high or low in the essential nutrients plants need most. Additional Soil Basics information can be found through Cornell University's Department of Horticulture


Soil Types in Otsego County:

Valois-Chenango-Howard (12%): Well suited for agriculture. Dominantly nearly level to moderately steep; very deep; somewhat excessively drained to well drained; moderately coarse textured and medium textured soils that formed in glacial outwash, in-wash deposits, alluvial fans and ablation till; in terraces, outwash plains, kames, eskers, moraines, and along valley walls.

Lansing-Conesus-Manheim (7%): Well suited for agriculture. Dominantly nearly level to very steep; very deep; well drained to somewhat poorly drained; medium textured soils that formed in calcareous till; in glaciated uplands in the northern part of the county; frost action.

Scio-Chenango-Otego (6%): Well suited for agriculture. Dominantly nearly level to gently sloping; very deep; somewhat excessively drained to moderately well drained; moderately coarse textured and medium textured soils that formed in alluvium, glacial outwash, and water-deposited silts.

Honeoye-Farmington-Wassaic (4%): Well suited for agriculture. Dominantly nearly level to very steep; shallow to very deep; somewhat excessively drained to moderately well drained; medium textured soils that formed in calcareous till; in glaciated uplands in the northern part of the county which are sometimes bedrock controlled.

Danely-Darien-Nuda (1%): Well suited for agriculture. Dominantly nearly level to moderately steep; very deep; moderately well drained to somewhat poorly drained; medium textured and moderately fine textured soils that formed in calcareous till; in glaciated uplands in the northwestern part of the county; frost action.

Atherton-Riverhead-Scio (1%): Well suited for agriculture. Dominantly nearly level to gently sloping; very deep; well drained to very poorly drained; moderately coarse textured and medium textured soils that formed in glacial outwash, old glacial lake deltas and water sorted deposits; in terraces and outwash plains.

Mardin-Lordstown-Bath (38%): Dominantly nearly level to very steep; moderately deep and very deep; well drained and moderately well drained; medium texture; in glaciated uplands which are often bedrock controlled, low ph.

Mongaup-Willdin-Lewbath (18%): Dominantly nearly level to very steep; moderately deep and very deep; well drained and moderately well drained; medium texture; in glaciated uplands which are often bedrock controlled at elevations over 1,750 feet, cooler soil temperatures, low ph.

Wellsboro-Oquaga-Lackawanna (10%): Dominantly nearly level to very steep; moderately deep and very deep; somewhat excessively drained to moderately well drained; medium textured soils that formed in reddish colored till; in glaciated uplands which are often bedrock controlled; found in the southern part of the county.

Canandaigua-Wayland-Raynham (2%): Dominantly nearly level; very deep; somewhat poorly drained to very poorly drained; medium textured soils that formed in alluvium or and water-deposited silts.

Vly-Willowemoc-Lewbeach (1%): Dominantly nearly level to very steep; moderately deep and very deep; somewhat excessively drained to moderately well drained; medium textured soils that formed in reddish colored till; in glaciated uplands which are often bedrock controlled at elevations over 1,750 feet; cooler soil temperatures, low ph; found in the southern part of the county.

For more information regarding Otsego County's soil types, contact the Otsego County Planning Department at (607) 547-4225. _________________________________________________________ 

 

 

                             Bainbridge Area Geology by Don Zaengle

The geologic and financial data in the following presentation was gathered from public and private sources including state and federal imposed filing requirements. It is recommended that interested individuals and businesses consult with their own experts to review this information.

Bainbridge Geologic Overview.pdf

Broome County, New York Marcellus Shale Geologic Survey    by Don Zaengle  

Economic Uplift From Marcellus-Utica Development in New York State by Petro Enterprises, Inc.

http://twintlc.com/Documents/nysupliftstudyR.pdf