The COST No. B-3 well is the first deep stratigraphic test to be drilled on the Continental Slope off the Eastern United States. The well was drilled in 2,686 ft (819 m) of water in the Baltimore Canyon trough area to a total depth of 15,820 ft (4,844 m) below the drill platform. It penetrated a section composed of mudstones, calcareous mudstones, and limestones of generally deep water origin to a depth of about 8.200 ft (2,500 m) below the drill floor. Light-colored, medium- to coarse-grained sandstones with intercalated gray and brown shales, micritic limestones, and minor coal and dolomite predominate from about 8,200 to 12,300 ft (2,500 to 3,750 m). From about 12,300 ft (3,750 m) to the bottom, the section consists of limestones (including oolitic and intraclastic grainstones) with interbedded fine-to medium-grained sandstones, dark-colored fissile shales, and numerous coal seams.
Biostratigraphic examination has shown that the section down to approximately 6,000 ft (1,830 m) is Tertiary. The boundary between the Lower and Upper Cretaceous sections is placed between 8,600 and 9,200 ft (2,620 and 2,800 m) by various workers. Placement of the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary shows an even greater range based on different organisms; it is placed variously between 12,250 and 13,450 ft (3,730 and 5,000 m). The oldest unit penetrated in the well is considered to be Upper Jurassic (Kimmeridgian) by some workers and Middle Jurassic (Callovian) by others. The Lower Cretaceous and Jurassic parts of the section represent nonmarine to shallow-marine shelf sedimentation. Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary units reflect generally deeper water conditions at the B-3 well site and show a general transition from deposition at shelf to slope water depths.
Examination of cores, well cuttings, and electric logs indicates that potential hydrocarbon-reservoir units are present throughout the Jurassic and Cretaceous section. Porous and moderately permeable limestones and sandstones have been found in the Jurassic section, and significant thicknesses of sandstone with porosities as high as 30 percent and permeabilities in excess of 100 md have been encountered in the Cretaceous interval from about 7,000 to 12,000 ft (2,130 to 3,650 m).
Studies of organic geochemistry, vitrinite reflectance, and color alteration of visible organic matter indicate that the Tertiary section, especially in its upper part, contains organic-carbon-rich sediments that are good potential oil source rocks. However, this part of the section is thermally immature and is unlikely to have acted as a source rock anywhere in the area of the B-3 well. The Cretaceous section is generally lean in organic carbon, the organic matter which is present is generally gas-prone, and the interval is thermally immature (although the lowest part of this section is approaching thermal maturity). The deepest part of the well, the Jurassic section, shows the onset of thermal maturity. The lower half of the Jurassic rocks has high organic-carbon contents with generally gas-prone organic matter. This interval is therefore considered to be an excellent possible gas source; it has a very high methane content.
The combination of gas-prone source rocks, thermal maturity, significant gas shows in the well at 15,750 ft (4,801 m) and porous reservoir rocks in the deepest parts of the well indicate a considerable potential for gas production from the Jurassic section in the area of the COST No. B-3 well. Wells drilled farther downslope from the B03 site may encounter more fully marine or deeper marine sections that may have a greater potential for oil (rather than gas) generation.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geological studies of the COST No. B-3 Well, United States Mid-Atlantic continental slope area