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North American Helium Conference

Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund Report – Daniel Halford (2019, DPhil Earth Sciences)

What: Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists Helium Conference
When: March 20-24, 2023
Where: Denver, Colorado
Why: Attend a Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists helium conference in Denver to present an updated new helium predictive model based on structural geology and geophysics. I have attached the abstract of the talk below. I also attended talks pertaining to helium and hydrogen exploration and processing.

Thank you for your generosity with the awarding £489 from the Univ Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund. This was used to cover my flights to and from the conference in Denver, Colorado, USA. Because of your generosity, I was able to present in person my latest PhD research, which highlighted a new updated predictive model for helium exploration based on the intersection of several structural features. I received feedback that spurred additional conversations which might lead to future research development. I was able to practice my public speaking skills as well as network with experienced professionals and other graduate students. I was also able to attend several interesting talks that directly relate to my current research and interests pertaining to helium systems and natural hydrogen systems. It was such an amazing opportunity and I would not have been able to experience it fully without your generosity. Thank you!

Additional Information

Probabilistic determination of the role of faults and intrusions in helium-rich gas field formation

Halford, D.T.1, Karolytė, R.1, Andreason, M.W.2, Cathey, B.3, Dellenbach, J.T.4, Cuzella, J.J.4, Sonnenberg, S.A.5, Cheng, A.1, McCaffrey, K.J.W.6, Gluyas, J.G.6, Ballentine, C.J.1

1 University of Oxford, Oxford, Earth Sciences, OX1 3AN, England, UK
2 Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company, St. Michaels, Arizona, 86511, USA
3 Earthfield Technology LLC, Richmond, Texas, 77406, USA
4 Division of Energy and Mineral Development, Lakewood, Colorado, 80401, USA
5Colorado School of Mines, Geology and Geological Engineering, Golden, Colorado, 80401, USA
6Durham University, Earth Sciences, Durham, DH1 3LE, England, UK


Natural gas fields with economic helium (>0.3 He%) require geological periods of quiescence to generate He from the radioactive decay of crustal uranium (U) and thorium (Th) and tectonic and structural regimes favorable to releasing and concentrating He. A key unknown of the He system is determining the role of faults and structural features in focusing deep-seated He sources to shallow accumulations. We test the correlation between high-He wells (n=138) and structural features using a new high-resolution aeromagnetic survey in the Four Corners area, USA. A depth-to-basement map with basement lineaments/faults, an intrusion map, and a flattened basement structural high map, were created using Werner deconvolution algorithms by combining magnetic, gravity, and topography data, with magnetic and gravity depth profiles. We show quantitatively (via ANOVA) that a non-random process controls the relationship between He (>0.3%) and both basement faults and intrusions: 88% of high-He wells occur <1 km of basement faults; and 85% of high-He wells occur <1 km of intrusions. As He% increases, the distance to the structural features decreases. Strong spatial statistical correlations of He wells to both basement faults and intrusions suggest advective transport via faults/intrusions facilitates He migration. The role of gas phase buoyancy and structural trapping is confirmed: 88% of high-He occurs within basement structural highs; and 91% of the remaining wells are <1 km from intrusions (potential local structural high). We present a composite map to illustrate how a probabilistic approach can be used as a predictive model to improve He exploration success by targeting zones of intersection of basement faults and intrusions within basement structural highs.

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Published: 22 August 2023

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