The State of Minnesota is encouraging the growth of economically significant and environmentally responsible resource industries in the State. The Minnesota Minerals Coordinating Committee therefore is promoting awareness of the potential for natural gas production from the Midcontinent Rift in Minnesota. Recent world-class natural gas discoveries in Siberia have demonstrated the potential in a similar setting.

Presented at Midcontinent Rift States AAPG
April 2006, Houston, Texas






grass picture
ore boat at duluth


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Highlights: Precambrian Midcontinent Rift Play (Palacas, 1995)

Geology: Volcanic horsts flanked by sedimentary basins up to 30,000 feet thick, sedimentary basins up to 6,500 feet thick atop the horsts

Reservoirs: Sandstones, conglomerates, fractured shales; porosities up to 18%; probable shale and fault gouge seals

Source rocks: Nonesuch Formation shale, up to 700 feet thick, up to 3% total organic carbon (TOC), type II & I kerogens, mature to overmature, known oil seeps in Michigan

Traps: Fault related structures, large anticlinal features, drag folds, stratigraphic traps likely

Exploration status: Five wells drilled from Kansas to Michigan; seismic refraction data available for parts of the rift; increasing awareness of source rock potential and oil seeps, improved knowledge of large reserves in other rifts and Precambrian terranes

Resource potential: A high-risk play with few wells drilled and mature to overmature source rocks; source rocks may have favorable thermal maturity along basin flanks

Sponsored by: Minnesota Minerals Coordinating Committee


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Minnesota Department of Natural
Resources, Division of Lands and Minerals
500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4045 USA;

Steve Hauck
Natural Resources Research Institute
5013 Miller Trunk Highway
Duluth, MN 55811 USA;
Harvey Thorleifson
Minnesota Geological Survey
2642 University Ave. W.
St. Paul, MN 55114-1057 USA;
Telephone 612-627-4780 ext. 224;
Fax 612-627-4778

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Location of Minnesota and the MidContinent Rift

General Map of Minnesota

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Links to Sites about Oil and Gas and the MidContinent Rift:

MGS_MCC Gas Brochure PDF
U.S. Geological Survey Oil and Gas Exploration
U.S. Geological Survey Superior Basin
U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin
Iowa Geological Survey Bureau
MidContinent Rift System PDF (W.R. Van Schmus and W.J. Hinze)


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