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Summary of regional geology, petroleum potential, resource assessment and environmental considerations for oil and gas lease sale area #56

January 1, 1980

This report summarizes our general knowledge of the petroleum potential, as well as problems and hazards associated with development of petroleum resources in the area proposed for nominations for lease sale number 56. This area includes the U.S. eastern continental margin from the North Carolina-Virginia border south to approximately Cape Canaveral, Florida and from three miles from shore, seaward to include the upper Continental Slope and inner Blake Plateau. The area for possible sales is shown in figure 1; major physiographic features of the region are shown in figure 2.

No wells have been drilled for petroleum within this proposed lease area and no significant commercial production has been obtained onshore in the Southeast Georgia Embayment. The COST GE-1 stratigraphic test well, drilled on the Continental Shelf off Jacksonville, Fla. (fig- 1), reached basement at 3,300 m. The bottom third of the section consists of dominantly continental rocks that are typically poor sources of petroleum (Scholle, 1979) and the rocks that contain organic carbon adequate for generation of petroleum at the well are seen in seismic profiles always at shallow subbottom depths, so they probably have not reached thermal maturity. However, seismic profiles indicate that the sedimentary deposits thicken markedly in a seaward direction where more of the section was deposited under marine conditions; therefore, commercial accumulations of petroleum offshore are more likely.

Several potential sources of environmental hazard exist. Among the most important are hurricanes, the Gulf Stream, and earthquakes. The potential danger from high wind, waves, storm surges, and storm-driven currents associated with hurricanes is obvious. Evidence for significant bottom scour by the Gulf Stream is abundant; such scour is a threat to the stability of bottom-mounted structures. The fast-flowing water also will hamper floating drill rigs and control of drill strings. A major earthquake of about magnitude 6.8 struck Charleston in 1886; it may have been associated with a zone of active seismicity that crosses South Carolina. The likelihood of a repetition of the 1886 event is presently not predictable but a seismic hazard must be assumed to exist.

Publication Year 1980
Title Summary of regional geology, petroleum potential, resource assessment and environmental considerations for oil and gas lease sale area #56
DOI 10.3133/ofr82398
Authors William P. Dillon, Kim D. Klitgord, Charles K. Paull, John A. Grow, Mahlon M. Ball, Gordon Dolton, Richard B. Powers, Abdul S. Khan, Peter Popenoe, James M. Robb
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 82-398
Index ID ofr82398
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse