Coal, lignite near surface (actively mined) and sub-bituminous deeper, exists throughout the fluvial deposits of the Wilcox Group of northern Louisiana. Our first coal investigations were federally funded through the Louisiana Geological Survey (LGS) in 1979 to investigate coal distribution for " deep basin in-situ gasification" during the push to develop alternative fuels of that time. Interest in the deep coals diminished, with a few operators producing coal seam gas and the LGS conducting limited studies, until about 2000 when the industry began some testing programs, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) initiated some cooperative investigations, the LGS became engaged with the USGS in coal studies and we here at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) began a program to characterize the regional distribution of coals in the lower Wilcox Gp. of northern Louisiana.
Since that time, supported by a cooperative agreement with the National Coal Resource Data System (NCRDS) of the USGS and with some industry support, we have completed our regional mapping of lower Wilcox Gp. coals and have also completed several contiguous detailed studies utilizing all available well data to define the distribution of the coals in the parishes of Winn, Grant, LaSalle, Caldwell and Richland where our regional mapping had shown the most prospective coals to exist.
We obtained the upper two seconds of an industry 3D seismic data volume from Devon Energy Corporation and have utilized some special software (from TerraSpark Geosciences) to slice these data along stratal horizons to create seismic geomorphological images. By correlating these images with available well logs we have identified and mapped, fluvial channel deposits, crevasse splay deposits and swamp/coal prone deposits. Because of the ability to recognize seismic geomorphologic features in the stratal slices and to correlate the features to seismic facies patterns in the intersecting vertical slices we now have developed confidence that we can recognize the seismic signature of coal prone facies in standard 2D data, which are much more common and available in areas of interest to coal seam/bed exploration.