Job Announcement from Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources—Geologist/Editor—ends TODAY (Jan. 31)

The position of Geologist/Editor is available at the Washington State Geological Survey in Olympia.

Here is the job description:

For more information, contact:
Jessica Czajkowski
GIS/Editing Section Manager
Division of Geology and Earth Resources
1111 Washington St. SE, MS47007
Olympia, WA 98501

NPGS Monthly Dinner Meeting—Feb. 2—RSVP by TODAY (Jan. 31):

NPGS logo
Bill Ehni
The Elko Basin in northeastern Nevada in retrospect of the results of Noble Energy’s recent drilling campaign

Nevada Petroleum & Geothermal Society
Monthly Dinner Meeting
Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ramada Reno Hotel
1000 East 6th Street, Reno, NV 89512
Cocktail Reception 6:30, Skyline Bar, 14th Floor
Dinner Served at 7:00 PM
NPGS Members $20, Non-Members $23, Students $10

Speaker: Bill Ehni, Geologist
Topic: The Elko Basin in northeastern Nevada in retrospect of the results of Noble Energy’s recent drilling campaign

Noble Energy drilled 4 wells in the Elko basin between September of 2013 and November of 2014.  Two of the wells were completed as producing oil wells in the lower Tertiary Elko Formation.  The wells are currently shut in after short production testing.  The Humboldt M2C-M2-21B was perforated between 7967’ and 8142’ in the Elko shale and produced a total of 2782 bbls of oil over a period of 145 days.  The Huntington K1L-1V well was tested in 2015 and has produced a total of 3,833 barrels of oil from the Elko shale from an interval between 8924’ and 9290’. The areal extent of the ancestral Lower Tertiary Elko basin is restricted primarily to Elko County, Nevada, and encompasses an area of nearly 8,000 square miles. The Elko oil shale was first recognized by R.M. Catlin in 1875. Ultimately, an oil retort was built and operated from 1917 to 1924 producing approximately 12,000 barrels of oil. Estimates of the in-place shale-oil resources are approximately 600 million barrels in the 7 square mile outcrop area surrounding the Catlin Retort (Moore and others 1983).  The average pyrolitic oil yield of organic rich sections in the Elko shale are 25.4 gallons per ton and leaner shales yield 5 gallons per ton (Moore 1983, Pool and Claypool 1984, Solomon 1992). Serious exploration efforts to develop the Elko shale began in 1974 by Fillon Exploration.  It was compared as an analog to producing oil fields in the Green River Basin of Utah and the Sheep Pass Basin in Nevada. However, this earlier exploration activity focused on conventional traps; whereas, Noble Energy used hydraulic fracturing (HF) to develop the resource.

Speaker’s Bio: After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Humboldt State University in 1975, Bill’s career in geology started in The Geysers, California.   For the next 7 years he worked primarily in the geothermal industry.  In 1982, he moved to Texas and worked for a geophysical company interpreting magnetotelluric surveys on several oil and gas projects in the western United States.  One project involved some work in Railroad Valley, Nevada and he became intrigued with the geology and hydrocarbon potential of Nevada. In 1985, he moved to Carson City, Nevada, bringing with him his future wife (Vicki) who happened to be the data processing manager at the geophysical company where they both worked.  In Carson City, they founded Ehni Enterprises, Inc., a geologic consulting company, in 1985.  Shortly after arriving in Nevada, Bill and a small group of other people working in the oil and gas industry here in Nevada founded the Nevada Petroleum Society in 1986, which ultimately became the NPGS. During his career with Ehni Enterprises, Bill has been directly involved with over 40 oil and gas wells in Nevada, including the 4 wells drilled by Noble Energy in Elko County, Nevada.

Please RSVP for the Dinner Meeting by Jan 31, here.

If you find that you cannot attend, please email Vicki Ehni at or call at 775-720-6387.
NPGS will be charged for all no shows. Thank you for your consideration.

Classified Employee of the Month, January 2017—Alex Nesbitt

A message from Jim Faulds:
Congratulations to Alex Nesbitt for receiving the UNR Classified Employee of the Month award for January 2017!

Alex works very hard at his position, and this award is very well deserved. Faculty, staff, and students at NBMG are grateful for Alex’s expert help and good humor.

New Geologic Maps in Northern Nevada: Mount Rose NW and Herder Creek Quadrangles



Preliminary Geologic Map of the South Half of the Mount Rose NW Quadrangle, Washoe County, Nevada

 Authors: Nicholas H. Hinz and Alan R. Ramelli
Year: 2016
Series: Open-File Report 16-6
Format: plate: 35 x 29 inches, color; text: 3 pages, b/w
Scale: 1:24,000

This quadrangle straddles the north end of the Carson Range directly west-southwest of Reno and abuts the Nevada-California border. The Truckee River and Interstate 80 transect the northwest quarter of this quadrangle. This quadrangle also encompasses part of the rural community along Thomas Creek in the southeast quarter, and segments of the Steamboat irrigation ditch and part of the City of Reno urban area fall within the northeast corner.

The bedrock exposures in the quadrangle consist of Mesozoic granitic basement and Tertiary volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The Tertiary section includes a complex section of lavas, intrusions, and volcanic sedimentary rocks. Many of these volcanic and sedimentary rocks were derived from a ~6-7 Ma ancestral Cascades volcanic center in the Mount Rose quadrangle, directly south of this quadrangle. Plio-Pleistocene basaltic andesite lavas and rhyolite domes locally rest on the late Miocene volcanic rocks in the middle part of the quadrangle. Principal surficial deposits include late Pliocene to modern alluvial fan and fluvial deposits, Quaternary glacial deposits, and late Quaternary mass wasting deposits. Notable deep-seated landslide complexes reside in all major drainages—including Thomas Creek, Hunter Creek, Bronco Creek, and the smaller catchments along the west edge of the quadrangle. Most of the Carson Range is west-tilted with west-dipping Cenozoic strata. However, within the Mount Rose NW quadrangle, the dip domain flips and most all the Cenozoic strata dips east with numerous west-dipping normal faults. These west-dipping normal faults are cut by younger east-dipping normal faults of the Mount Rose fault zone on the east side of the range.  East-facing Quaternary fault scarps were observed on the east side of the range and west-facing Quaternary fault scarps were observed on the west side of the range.

This geologic map was funded in part by the USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program under STATEMAP award number G15AC00240, 2016.


Preliminary Geologic Map of the Herder Creek Quadrangle, Elko County, Nevada
Author: Seth Dee and Michael W. Ressel
Year: 2016
Series: Open-File Report 16-5
Format: plate: 33 x 29 inches, color; text: 5 pages, b/w
Scale: 1:24,000

The map area covers part of Starr Valley, the upper reaches of the Humboldt River, and the northwest part of the East Humboldt Range.

The Ruby Mountains–East Humboldt Range metamorphic core complex is exposed in the high-relief range front in the southeast part of the quadrangle. In this area, the core complex is comprised of intensely metamorphosed and highly attenuated Neoarchean through Mississippian(?) strata, thought to be part of the platform facies of the Proterozoic through Paleozoic passive margin. Contractional structures exposed in the map area are complex and difficult to discern due to overprinted extensional deformation but are likely part of the Winchell Lake nappe (WLN), a kilometer scale, southward-closing recumbent fold-nappe mapped in adjacent quadrangles to the east. Overturned Devonian to Neoproterozoic(?) meta-sedimentary strata exposed at the highest structural levels are interpreted to be in thrust contact with an underlying, upright sequence of Cambrian to Neoproterozoic(?) paragneiss and Paleoproterozoic to Neoarchean(?) orthogneiss in the core of the fold. This structural interpretation matches those from the adjacent Welcome quadrangle (McGrew and Snoke, 2015; NBMG Map 184). Rocks in the upper part of the metamorphic core complex are pervasively overprinted by a WNW-directed mylonitic shear fabric, which records middle to late Cenozoic extensional exhumation from mid-crustal depths. Abundant sills and lenses of less deformed Oligocene to Cretaceous garnet-muscovite leucogranite and biotite monzogranite intrude all metamorphic rocks in the quadrangle.

The west side of the East Humboldt Range is bound by the active, W-dipping Ruby Mountains frontal fault zone, which extends for more than 60 km to the southwest. A west step-over in the Ruby Mountains fault south of the Herder Creek drainage results in a broad, hanging wall uplift underlain by middle-Miocene to Pliocene strata comprised of NE-dipping to flat-lying tuffaceous sandstone, shale, and conglomerate of the Humboldt Formation and younger units. A tephra in the uppermost exposed section yielded a 40Ar/39Ar age on feldspar of 5.15 ± 1.82 Ma.

Repeated late Quaternary surface-rupturing earthquakes along active traces of the frontal fault are recorded by increased uplift and dissection of Quaternary surfaces as a function of relative age. Fault scarps in Holocene deposits have up to 2.5 m of vertical separation while glacial outwash deposits from the two most recent Pleistocene glacial advances have scarp heights ranging from 6 to 32 m. The upper reaches of several drainages have well-preserved glacial moraine deposits that record the Angel Lake and Lamoille glacial advances. Adjacent to the Humboldt River, in the northwest corner of the quadrangle, 3 sets of abandoned terrace surfaces are preserved, including a broad surface comprised of gravel-rich alluvium that was likely deposited during a period of increased discharge during the latest Pleistocene.

This geologic map was funded in part by the USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program under STATEMAP award number G15AC00240, 2016.

Meet the Geothermal Energy Center’s new director: Bridget Ayling took over the director position at the GBCGE last spring


News from Nevada Today
Article by Michael Olinger, Nevada Today, 1/3/2017

“The Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy got a new director last spring, and she travelled a long road to get to her new post.

Bridget Ayling was born in New Zealand. She has worked in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Antarctica.

“I think I’ve been really lucky to travel to some amazing places just through my job, you know, and get to some pretty rugged places to do science,” Ayling said. “Everywhere you go, every country you go to, it’s a new landscape.”Bridget Ayling

The high desert of the Great Basin is the latest landscape to welcome Ayling, who has been interested in geology from a young age. Early fascination with limestone rocks and the fossils contained therein was met with encouragement by her parents, who fostered it with the gift of numerous books.

Ayling has spent over a decade working in the geothermal energy sector, most of that time for the Australian government. After dabbling briefly in the oil and gas industries, she saw the post at the GBCGE as a unique chance to get back into the geothermal work that she loves.

“Nevada is a state that has many geothermal resources,” Ayling said. “We’re really richly endowed with geothermal.”

Since her arrival at the University, Ayling has been hard at work on a number of projects, such as reviving the National Geothermal Academy, which operated on campus from 2011 to 2014 before going dormant for the last two years. The academy is a summer program where students spend time studying drilling and reservoir engineering for geothermal energy. She is also a member of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.

Additionally, Ayling has been working on the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (or FORGE) project, a Department of Energy initiative seeking to develop a field test site for geothermal system technology development and testing. A site in Fallon was one of five potential test sites initially chosen by the DOE, who narrowed their options to two in September, with Fallon being one of those sites. Ayling and the GBCGE are currently waiting to see if their site is the one ultimately chosen by the DOE.

As of the fall semester, Ayling has not taught any classes, but that is set to change in the spring. Ayling’s class, Geology 407/607, will focus on Earth’s energy resources. She describes it as “a pretty ‘big picture’ course.”

She is also working to set up her own independent research that will shape the center.

“It takes time to build a team and have visions for what it can be in the future,” Ayling said. “It’s going to take time to realize that and actually get the funding to support it. It’s fairly small, and my key areas so far have been doing a fair bit of outreach, so doing talks at public forums, like the Geological Society of Nevada. I’ve talked up at the Desert Research Institute. Conference talks, that kind of thing. So, a bit of outreach to raise awareness that we have a center. It exists, and I’m here, and hopefully going to take it to some pretty cool places.”

University research professor Jim Faulds, a colleague of Ayling, is very happy about the work that she has done so far, and the work that lays ahead.

“She has hit the ground running at the University and is already pursuing many new opportunities in geothermal research that will earn enormous rewards for the state and Great Basin region,” Faulds said.

Ayling shares Faulds’ enthusiasm.

“The Great Basin Center is an exciting place to be,” she said. “I think to be here in Reno and to be director of the center is great.”

1997 New Year’s Floods—20th Anniversary


The start of the new year marked the 20th anniversary of the devastating 1997 New Year’s floods of western Nevada, which caused over 450 million dollars in damage and closed downtown businesses in Reno for weeks. This event was caused by a phenomena known as the “Pineapple Express” (more generally known as an “atmospheric river”) in which several warm storms tapped into moisture plumes sourced near the Hawaiian Islands. These storms produced heavy rainfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, saturating the soil and melting existing snow pack resulting in flows around 18,000 cfs in the Truckee River. Footage from that event is shared below from the KTVN Channel 2 News Facebook page:

You can also see the 1997 flood extents for the Carson River, Reno area, and Walker River in NBMG’s MyHazards-Nevada interactive web map:

Click the “Floods and Drought” group (wave icon) then checkmark on the “Historical Floods – NBMG” layer to turn on the 1997 flood layers. Several sublayers available for each flood area, which can be viewed by clicking the gray triangle next to the layer names to expand the layers.

Given that western Nevada has a flood watch in effect for this weekend, it’s worth noting that there are other useful layers available in MyHazards-Nevada, such as live feeds for weather watches and advisories, radar, and current flooding, in addition to layers for other geologic hazards including a live feed for recent earthquakes.

For those interested in learning more about the 1997 New Year’s floods, NBMG Special Publication 23 is a detailed report on that event:
Links to other flood- and weather-related publications are available on this landing page.

AEG Monthly Dinner Meeting—January 19: “Truckee River Flood Project” talk by Jay Aldean



WHEN: Thursday January 19, 2017
SPEAKER: Jay Aldean, Executive Director, Truckee River Flood Management Authority
TOPIC: “Truckee River Flood Project”



COST: Members: $25.00; non-members: $29.00; Student dinners sponsored by Merrily Graham and Gary Luce

THE FLOOD PROJECT PLAN: The Flood Project Plan represents many years of planning and stakeholder coordination. The Plan is designed to provide a variety of public safety, economic, recreational and environmental benefits to the Truckee Meadows region. Its primary goal is to create a more resilient community by reducing flood damages and deaths resulting from a 1997¬type flood event (117-year event). Additionally, the Plan incorporates certain recreational and ecosystem restoration features within the footprint of the flood protection infrastructure.

THE LIVING RIVER PLAN: The Flood Project Plan is based on the “Living River Plan,” originally conceived by the Flood Project Community Coalition. Over a period of six years, our agency organized hundreds of meetings with community stakeholders in order to develop and build consensus for a regional flood management plan. The Living River Plan emphasized the community’s vision of incorporating environmentally-friendly elements into the flood protection infrastructure (“green” infrastructure) in order to reconnect the river to its floodplain, restore habitat for native species, and enhance recreational opportunities along the river. The Living River Plan was eventually presented to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) as the Locally Preferred Plan (LPP) alternative for flood risk management.

DEVELOPING A COST-EFFECTIVE PLAN: Truckee River Flood Management Authority (TRFMA) is committed to building a cost-effective flood project to benefit our community. In response to local concerns regarding the overall cost and scope of the Living River Plan (which was estimated to cost $1.6 billion), TRFMA worked with its consultants and numerous stakeholders to revise the plan, significantly reducing the cost while still providing a 100-year level of flood protection for the Truckee Meadows (thereby maintaining compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program). Through a series of meetings—including an in-depth Value Engineering exercise, the overall cost was reduced to just $446 million. This represents roughly 72% in cost savings to the communities of Reno, Sparks and Washoe County. The current Flood Project Plan retains some of the elements from the original Living River Plan and incorporates results from our updated hydraulic models.

BIOGRAPHY: Jay Aldean, PE, formerly of HDR Engineering, joined the Flood Project as Deputy Director in October 2008. Jay was appointed Executive Director in May 2012. Jay’s career spans numerous and varied assignments in the area water management. In his former position with HDR he led the Water Resources Business Class for Nevada to oversee employees, deliverables on projects dealing with flood control and drainage systems treating both water conveyance, and quality. Prior experience included a mixture of both public and private assignments. He managed the Wastewater Treatment Facilities for the City of San Antonio, Texas and initiated the Stormwater Department for the San Antonio Water System. For Carson City, Nevada he served as the Public Works Department Director. While in private practice he served as the Chief Program Engineer for Coyote Program under the Santa Clara Valley Water District in San Jose, CA. This program consisted of a number of major flood protection projects sponsored by the District and Federal and State Agencies.