Tech Briefs

Large Fluvial Fans and Exploration for Hydrocarbons

A report discusses the geological phenomena known, variously, as modern large (or large modern) fluvial fans or large continental fans, from a perspective of exploring for hydrocarbons.

These fans are partial cones of river sediment that spread out to radii of 100 km or more. Heretofore, they have not been much recognized in the geological literature — probably because they are difficult to see from the ground. They can, however, be seen in photographs taken by astronauts and on other remotely sensed imagery. Among the topics discussed in the report is the need for research to understand what seems to be an association among fluvial fans, alluvial fans, and hydrocarbon deposits. Included in the report is an abstract that summarizes the global distribution of large modern fluvial fans and a proposal to use that distribution as a guide to understanding paleo-fluvial reservoir systems where oil and gas have formed. Also included is an abstract that summarizes what a continuing mapping project has thus far revealed about the characteristics of large fans that have been found in a variety of geological environments.

This work was done by Murray Justin Wilkinson of Lockheed Martin Corp. for Johnson Space Center.

This invention is owned by NASA, and a patent application has been filed. Inquiries concerning nonexclusive or exclusive license for its commercial development should be addressed to the Patent Counsel, Johnson Space Center, (281) 483-0837. Refer to MSC-23424.