Menu Search

Shale Basin Evolution in the Central NWT

Shale Basin Evolution in the Central NWT

Mountainous River


There is potential for the discovery of new shale oil and gas reserves in NWT’s mainland basins because of the known high quality, mature source rocks identified, primarily in the Devonian Canol Formation and Cretaceous Slater River Formation. Existing framework geoscience and datasets established during the Mackenzie Plain Petroleum Project require crucial detailed study to characterize shale reservoir units. New information from the adjacent Peel Plain is needed to expand the knowledge of hydrocarbon resource potential and map organic-rich fairways. Use of this improved geoscience information supports current and future exploration activity, as well as underpins land use and resource management policies and decisions.

Geology Map


The study area lies in the Mackenzie Mountains and Mackenzie Plain, see map to the left.

helicopter on gravel near rock cliff


One goal is to map thermal maturity trends and differentiate oil-prone and gas-prone potential shale reservoir units in both Devonian and Cretaceous rocks.  Oil-stained samples will also be collected and studied to improve knowledge of petroleum systems in the region. 

limestone and shale with rock hammer


Field investigations involve detailed examination of sedimentary features in outcrop sections and spectral gamma ray measurement throughout the thickness of the section.  Rock samples will be collected to evaluate: 1) source and reservoir rock potential (total organic carbon, porosity, permeability), 2) thermal maturity, 3) thermal history, 4) mineralogy, 5) whole rock geochemistry 6) carbon isotopic signatures, 7) fossils, 8) oil stain and seep inventory, 9) sedimentary grain provenance and 10) absolute ages using carbon oxygen isotope dating. 

Satellite image of Mackenzie Mountains


A four-year (2014-2018), field and subsurface based project was initiated in 2014. The project includes two main field seasons in 2014 and 2016.  Field work will involve daily helicopter set-outs of the research team from the community of Norman Wells, NWT. Subsurface work will include well sampling of relevant wells. We are currently waiting on the results of our geochemical data to incorporate into NTGO Open Report documentation.

river with shale bank

Partners and Support

Kathryn Fiess and Jonathan Rocheleau – Northwest Territory Geological Survey
Leanne Pyle – VI Geosciences


RE/TOC, Chemostratigraphy, Devonian shales, Cretaceous shales, Shale gas or oil play, vitrinite reflectance, rock- eval, total organic carbon, Peel Plateau and Plain, Mackenzie Plain, Canol, Bluefish, Slater River, Arctic Red.