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Elements of Petroleum Geology, Third Edition

Elements of Petroleum Geology, Third Edition
By Richard C. Selley and Stephen A. Sonnenberg
Elsevier Inc. (2015)
Print Book ISBN: 978-0-1238-6031-6
eBook ISBN: 978-0-1238-6032-3

Reviewed by Boris Segel - May 4, 2015

The third edition of Elements of Petroleum Geology by Richard C. Selley and Stephen A. Sonnenberg is the most up-to-date and essential text on petroleum geology that I've seen. The third edition of this classic text has been fully updated and revised when compared to the second edition, making it an essential textbook and reference guide for both students and professionals in the field. The authors are both eminent petroleum geoscientists and educators. Richard Selley is a Senior Research Fellow and Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Geology at Imperial College, London, and Stephen A. Sonnenberg holds the Charles Boettcher Distinguished Chair in Petroleum Geology at the Colorado School of Mines, where he is also a professor.

The information in this textbook is organized into ten thematic chapters that begin with a general overview of petroleum geology, its history and recent advances in the field. The text then moves onto chapters covering The Physical and Chemical Properties of Petroleum, Methods of Exploration, The Subsurface Environment, Generation and Migration of Petroleum, The Reservoir, Traps and Seals, Sedimentary Basins and Petroleum Systems,, and Nonconventional Petroleum Resources. The book concludes with an overview of how the information presented in this book can be used in the real world environment, and insights into what the future might hold for petroleum geology and exploration. In addition to being well-illustrated with pictures, charts, and figures, each chapter in this book concludes with a list of references related to the specific chapter, and a select bibliography that will prove invaluable to those wishing to pursue the information presented in even greater detail.

By its very nature, this book is highly technical and may not be suitable to those new to the study of geology. However, for those with a sufficient background, this book will to prove to be a boon, both as a textbook and as a general reference. As far as accessibility, advanced upper-level undergraduates studying geology, as well as engineering students who have taken a couple of basic geology courses, should have a sufficient understanding of the basic math, science, and geology necessary to follow this text with ease. This book will also prove accessible to knowledgeable amateurs who have studied-up on petroleum geology, as well as professionals working in the field, no matter what their education background might be.

Although a technical subject, the authors have done an excellent job of clearly conveying the information covered. They have also taken steps to ensure that despite petroleum geology being a field that is growing in leaps and bounds, that this book is as up-to-date and relevant as possible. I also found that the many figures included in the book helped to illuminate and enhance the text. Another aspect of this text that I especially liked is that in addition to explaining how data is obtained, the authors also explain how this data is interpreted, and how to merge data obtained from different sources to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the site or subject you are studying. The authors also provide a world-view to the study of petroleum geology by providing examples from, and analysis of, sites found around the globe.

While definitely not a light read, Elements of Petroleum Geology, Third Edition is essential reading for anyone interested in petroleum geology, from students and motivated amateurs to geologist, engineers, geophysicists, and basically anyone working in the oil industry. It is also, for those so inclined, actually a very exciting book to read. The information is cutting edge and I found it relevant to so much that is happening in the world today, both in terms of its geological importance, and to those living in areas where fracking is becoming prevalent. The book would also serve well as a textbook for introductory courses in petroleum geology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. This is a book to read, and study, and then to keep a copy near at hand to refer to as a refresher or when a ticklish problem pops its head up. It should be on the book shelf of every petroleum geologist and student, and it rightly deserves a place in any library, private or public, frequented by geologist and oil industry employees.


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