RI36 History of Oil and Gas Exploration in the Mid-Atlantic Region and Delaware's Involvement in the Federal OCS Leasing Program
There has been sporadic exploration for oil and gas in the Mid-Atlantic region for over 50 years. Non-commercial deposits of oil and gas have recently been discovered in the sedimentary rock section of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) 80 miles off the New Jersey-Delaware coast. The oil and gas occurs within entrapment structures in ancient rocks deposited and buried in a deep basin called the Baltimore Canyon trough. This trough forms part of the Coastal Plain and continental shelf geologic provinces on the Atlantic Coast.
It is now possible to evaluate some of the earlier assessments and offer tentative conclusions about the hydrocarbon resource potential of the Baltimore Canyon trough, a major northeast-southwest trending sedimentary basin off the Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. For this purpose the Delaware Geological Survey has examined more than 2,500 miles (4,022 km) of seismic reflection profiles, the results of some offshore magnetic and gravity surveys, the results of the COST B-2 well, and the nonproprietary results through 1978 of exploratory drilling by the petroleum industry on federal leases.
The need for locating additional sources of ground water for the Delaware Atlantic seashore, a predominantly recreation-oriented area, is indicated by an expanding population in the belt between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., combined with increasing leisure time. Present water use in the shore area is approximately 4 million gallons per day and will reach 9.3 million gallons per day by the year 2000. A new geologic interpretation of the occurrence of deep aquifers in the Delaware Atlantic seashore area is presented. Recent data from deep wells has enabled the construction of a more accurate geologic framework upon which the hydrologic data are superimposed. Correlation of Miocene sands concludes that the Manokin aquifer lies at greater depths in southeastern Delaware than previously thought.
The location of the fresh-salt-water-boundary in the deeper aquifers of Delaware is related mainly to head values. Near coastal areas, dynamic conditions may prevail that affect the interface position within shallow aquifers open to the sea. Holocene and Columbia sands which form Delaware's shallow water-table aquifers contain brackish water in scattered coastal areas while brackish water in the artesian aquifers is found at various depths. Water from Chesapeake Group sediments (Miocene) is fresh in Kent County but is salty in poorly defined areas of Sussex County. The interface in the Piney Point Formation (Eocene) lies just north of Milford and extends in a northeast-southwesterly direction across the State. Brackish water exists in the Magothy and Potomac formations of Cretaceous age a few miles south of Middletown. Heavy pumping near sources of brackish water should be avoided for the present. Proper location of monitoring wells is necessary for detection of future chloride movement.
The core of much DGS work culminates in the release of data and findings in official DGS publications, including Open File Reports, Reports of Investigations, Geologic Maps, Hydrologic Maps, and Bulletins.