Geosphere: Earth's Natural Resources

Modeling Oil and Gas Reservoirs

This activity will help you to understand some of the factors that petroleum geologists need to consider when deciding where to recommend drilling for oil. Since people use petroleum products for energy and as source materials for petrochemicals, it is important as citizen scientists to understand the science and technology behind the search for oil and natural gas.

Natural Gas Formation

Natural gas, which is mostly methane, is an energy resource used for generating electricity and heating, powering transportation, and manufacturing products. Right now, one-quarter of the world’s energy comes from natural gas. In this investigation, you will make a simple model of how gases can form from decaying material. You will also explore the effects of temperature on gas formation.

Oil Trap Model

Discuss how a 3-D model illustrates the geology of oil deposits. What challenges do you think petroleum geologists must overcome to recover oil?

Painting With Soil

Soils are one of our most important natural resources — just think of where all the food you eat comes from. They also are important for the beauty the many soil colors add to our landscapes.

Most of us overlook this natural beauty because we see it every day. Often these colors blend with vegetation, sky, water, etc. Soil colors serve as pigments in bricks, pottery and artwork.  The color and texture of soil painting is fascinating and a creative opportunity for all ages of students.

Parks Past, Present, and Future

Over Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history, tectonic upheavals and colliding plates formed mountain ranges and carved out basins. Forces of erosion and weathering have been at work to break down these landforms. Records of these processes are imprinted on the land and define distinctive landscapes around the United States and in its national parks.

Particle Size and Oil Production

What factors affect how easily a fluid can move through sediments? How is this flow rate connected to oil production? In this investigation, you will explore the permeabilities of different materials. You will then use your observations to determine what affects permeability and how this might relate to oil production.

Products from Petroleum

Where would we be without petroleum? You can kiss lipstick goodbye!

Not only does petroleum provide fuel to run our vehicles, cook our food, heat our homes, and generate electricity, it is also used in plastics, medicines, food items, and countless other products, from aspirin to umbrellas and, yes — lipstick! We use many oil products as synthetic alternatives to natural materials, including synthetic rubber instead of natural rubber, and detergent instead of soap. Oil also gives us entirely new, unique materials such as nylon.

Products Made from Petroleum

Most people associate petroleum with transportation — but we are surrounded by thousands of other everyday products that come from this vital natural resource. A typical 42- gallon barrel of crude oil yields about 20 gallons of gasoline and 4 gallons of jet fuel. What products come from the other 18 gallons?

Properties of Fluids in Reservoirs

Petroleum geologists play a vital role in locating energy resources. They use a variety of methods to collect the data they need to find reservoirs of oil and natural gas. When they find these reservoirs, petroleum geologists need to calculate their volume. They also need to estimate how much they can recover (remove) from the reservoir. This helps them to determine the possible value of the discovery. By using a model, this investigation will help you to understand the physical relationships between natural gas, oil, and water in a reservoir and how these relationships can affect recovery.

Rock Abrasion

Rocks break down into smaller pieces through weathering. Rocks and sediment grinding against each other wear away surfaces. This type of weathering is called abrasion, and it happens as wind and water rush over rocks. The rocks become smoother as rough and jagged edges break off. In this activity, you will model how abrasion works.

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