Ron BroadheadPrincipal Senior Petroleum Geologist
& Adjunct faculty, Earth and Environmental Sciences Department
New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources
New Mexico Tech
801 Leroy Place
Socorro NM 87801-4796
(575) 835-5202 ph
(575) 835-6333 fax
My position at the Bureau involves a mix of applied research, service work and educational activities. The percentage of time spent in each area varies according to demand but research and service constitute the majority of my efforts. The boundaries between research, service and educational activities are indistinct and there is a continuum among all three areas.
My research role has involved investigating various aspects of the petroleum geology of New Mexico with emphasis on basin analysis, petroleum source rocks, reservoir trends (also known as "play analysis") and statewide resource studies. In recent years I have become involved with work on induced seismicity and hydraulic fracturing. I am also involved with related reserach on helium resources and natural accumulations of carbon dioxide, both of which have been produced as economic commodities within New Mexico. Collaborative work has been done in conjunction with Martha Cather, Bob Balch and the late Bill Weiss of the Petroleum Recovery Research Center at NMT, Tom Engler of the NMT Petroleum Engineering Department, and Mark Person, Sue Bilek, and Anton Budding (retired) of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. External collaborators have included geologists (including Shirley Dutton) from the University of Texas and geologists from the state geological surveys of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. I also collaborated with John Lorenz when he was at Sandia National Laboratories. Yet another collaborator was Bill King (retired) of New Mexico State University. Most recently (September 2017), a comprehensive volume covering the petroleum resources of New Mexico has been published as New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Memoir 50A/New Mexico Geological Society Special Publication 13A. Currently I am pursuing an investigation of the oil and natural gas resources of Sandoval County, New Mexico.
Service work most often entails answering queries and interacting with the general public as well as geologists and other professionals from private industry and state and federal agencies. I also supervise the Subsurface, Core and Cuttings Libraries at the Bureau. Inquiries from the general public frequently involve helping individuals develop an understanding of resources that might be present beneath their lands or in the areas in which they live as well as an understanding of what types of activities may be involved with exploration of development of those resources. Research on induced seismicity and hydraulic fracturing began with a service need in mind. Inquiries from geologists and other scientists/engineers usually involve a discussion of the resource geology of the geographic area of interest as well as directing people to publications, reports, databases and other information that may be prove helpful. As such, service activities are often a nontraditional form of education that has involved giving presentations to civic organizations, county commissions, etc. A portion of my service activities has been directed to volunteer efforts with professional scientific societies. Examples of this include being past-president of the New Mexico Geological Society and being past-president of the New Mexico Tech Chapter of Sigma Xi. For the past 5 1/2 years I have been the Editor of Search and Discovery, the online scientific journal of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
Educational activities have included mostly teaching formal courses at New Mexico Tech, supervising graduate student research. From 1982 through 2013 I taught the Petroleum Geology course at NMT on an annual basis and have also taught directed study courses on Petroleum Source Rocks. For the past two years I have been involved with advising and coaching the NMT Imperial Barrel Award team - this competetive challenge activity is described below. I also serve on the research committees of graduate students in the Petroleum Engineering and Earth and Environmental Sciences Departments at Tech. My role on the committees is to provide geological mentorship, especially regarding petroleum geology, stratigraphy, and subsurface geological techniques. In several cases I have acted as the student's research advisor. I also act more informally to mentor NMT geology and engineering students, especially those in the Petroleum Engineering Senior Design course.
- B.S. Geology, New Mexico Tech, 1977
- Duke University Marine Laboratory, Pivers Island, North Carolina, summer 1977
- M.S. Geology, University of Cincinnati, 1979 (studied petroleum geology and petrology of eastern gas shales)
- Petroleum geologist, Cities Service Company, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, 1979-1981 (worked Arkoma Basin, central Oklahoma area, Texas panhandle and southwest Kansas/Oklahoma panhandle area, Ouachita thrustbelt. Developed prospects, sat wells, etc.)
- New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, 1981-present
Awards and Honors
- Career Achievement Award, New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, October 2016
- Distinguished Service Award, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, 2015
- Honorary Member, Roswell Geological Society, 2008.
- Distinguished Service Award, West Texas Geological Society, 2009.
- Long Service Award from the House of Delegates of theAmerican Association of Petroleum Geologists, for 20 years of service representing the New Mexico Geological Society in the House of Delegates, 2004.
- Monroe G. Cheney Science Award, Southwest Section American Association of Petroleum Geologists, June 2002 "for singular contributions and service toward the understanding of petroleum geology in the Southwest Region". Click here to find out about Monroe G Cheney.
- A.I. Levorsen Memorial Award for Best Paper at the 2002 meeting of the Southwest Section American Association of Petroleum Geologists "Geologic structure and petroleum source rocks of the Tucumcari Basin"
- Broadhead, R.F., 2017, Petroleum geology of New Mexico: New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Memoir 50A and New Mexico Geological Society Special publication 13A, 90 p.
- Zhang, Y., Edel, S., Pepin, J., Person, M., Broadhead, R., Stone, W., Bilek, S., Mozley, P., and Evans, J., 2016, Exploring the potential linkages between oil-field brine reinjection, crystalline basement permeability, and triggered seismicity for the Dagger Draw oil field, southeastern New Mexico, USA using hydrologic modeling: Geofluids, v. 16, no. 5, p. 971-987.
- Broadhead, R.F., 2015, The Upper Mancos Shale in the San Juan Basin: Three plays, conventional and unconventional: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Search and Discovery, No. 10791, 39 p.
- Broadhead, R.F., 2015, Petroleum geology of the Las Vegas Basin: an overview, in Lindline, J., Petronis, M., and Zebrowski, J., eds., Geology of the Las Vegas region: New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook 66, p. 253-260.
- Broadhead, R.F., 2012, Hydrocarbon-water and CO2-water systems in the pre-Cretaceous section in the New Mexico part of the Raton Basin: The Mountain Geologist, v. 49, no. 2, p. 55-74.
- Broadhead, R.F., 2010, The Woodford Shale in southeastern New Mexico: distribution and source rock characteristics: New Mexico Geology, v. 32, no. 3, p. 79-90.
- Broadhead, R.F., 2009, Mississippian strata of southeastern New Mexico: distribution, structure, and hydrocarbon plays: New Mexico Geology, v. 31, no. 3, p. 65-76.
- Broadhead, R.F., 2005, Helium in New Mexico - geologic distribution, resource demand, and exploration possibilities: New Mexico Geology, v. 27, no. 4, p. 93-101.
- Helium: Geology of accumulations and relationship to other gases in the reservoir. Presented to New Mexico Landmen's Association, Roswell NM, November 15, 2017 (invited).
- Oil & natural gas activities at New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. Presented to Water and Natural Resources Committee of the New Mexico State Legislature, Socorro NM, October 12, 2017.
- Helium: Geology of accumulations and relationship to other natural gases in the reservoir. Presented to Roswell Geological Society, Roswell NM, March 2017 (invited).
- Helium: Geology of accumulations and relationship to other natural gases in the reservoir. Presented to AAPG Geoscience Technology Workshop, Houston TX, October 2016 (invited).
- Carbon dioxide and helium gases in New Mexico: Distribution and and relation to other gases in the reservoir. Presented at Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver CO, September 2016 (invited).
- Petroleum geology of Mora County. Presented to Mora County Commission, February 23, 2016.
- The Upper Mancos Shale in the San Juan Basin: Three plays, conventional and unconventional. Presented at monthly meeting of Roswell Geologicasl Society, November 2015 (invited).
- Overview of selected shale plays in New Mexico. Presented to City Different Petroleum Club, Santa Fe NM, July 2015.
- What are hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling? Presentation made in conjunction with F. David Martin, New Mexico Secretary of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources at Annual Meeting of New Mexico Rural Water Association, April 2015.
Specialties and Interests
- Petroleum exploration and development geology. I am familiar with the petroleum exploration geology of New Mexico, especially as applied to the frontier basins and the Permian Basin of southeastern New Mexico.
- Petroleum source rocks (for introduction to project report that describes analyzed wells and types of data available--click here). The majority of analyses are available in a digital database on CD-ROM (New Mexico Bureau of geology Database DDS DB2). Please contact our publications office if you wish to get a copy of this publication, visit our publications office or buy online. We continually strive to add more source rock data to our records. Newer data have been made available though Bureau open-file reports on specific stratigraphic units or basins. An updated list of Open-file reports and other publications that contain source rock analyses may be found here.
- Subsurface geology of New Mexico. As part of my duties, I have acquired familiarity with the subsurface geology of large parts of New Mexico, but am especially familiar with Paleozoic basins and strata in the northeast, central, southeast, southwest, and west-central parts of the state.
- Unconventional oil and gas, including shale gas. I did my graduate work on shale gas in the Appalachian Basin long before this was fashionable. At the Bureau, we have several reports and papers directly relevant to shale gas and unconventional shale oil in New Mexico. This (Mancos Shale slide set) is a slideset on the Mancos Shale developed for the San Juan Basin Energy Conference, which was held in farmington in march 2013. A report on the Mancos Shale is in preparation.This is a slideset I developed for a presentation to the Legislature in January 2012 on oil and gas production in New Mexico including some shale gas and unconventional oil possibiliies (Shale gas and unconventional oil). The include my in-depth work on the Upper Mississippian Barnett Shale in southeastern New Mexico (Open file report 502) with aspects summarized in a paper in New Mexico Geology.Also in southeastern New Mexico, my work on the Upper Devonian Woodford Shale and Wristen petroleum system, available as a paper in New Mexico Geology and as Open file report 485 on the Wristen petroleum system is directly pertinent to shale gas. Bill Raatz published very relevant material on source rock attributes and stratigraphy of the Upper Devonian Percha Shale in southwestern and south-central New Mexico in Open file report 484. I examined shale-gas potential in the Raton and Las Vegas Basins in Open file report 510; there is significant and identifiable shale gas potential the Pierre and Niobrara Shale (Upper Cretaceous) of the Raton Basin and in Pennsylvanian shales of the Las Vegas Basin. In addition, we have substantive reports with much data and discussion directly relevant to shale gas in the Tucumcari Basin of east-central New Mexico (and also here), the Pedregosa Basin of southwestern New Mexico, and the Chupadera Mesa region of central New Mexico, as well as the Estancia Basin of central New Mexico. There are numeropus other shale units throughout New Mexico, especially in the San Juan and Permian Basins that we have not yet studied in perpspective of shale-gas resources. In addition, the lower Mississippian limestone of southeastern New Mexico is an unconventional low-permeability carbonate reservoir which has produced natural gas but which is poorly developed and poorly understood, summarized in a paper in New Mexico Geology and also with aspects in earlier Open file report 497.
- Helium-rich gases in New Mexico, their origin, distribution, and exploration potential.. Please see our Open-file report 483 for detailed information on the distribution of helium-rich gases in New Mexico as well as a summary of exploration models and exploration possibilities. The November 2005 issue of New Mexico Geology has a summary of this subject. Helium has many indispensable uses including as a coolant in MRI imaging machines and as an inert atmosphere used in the production of computer chips. Its use as a lifting gas in balloons and blimps is minor. Presently, production of helium has fallen below demand and the shortfall has been made up by withdrawing helium from storage. New sources need to be identified and brought into production if all future needs are to be met.
- Natural occurrences of carbon dioxide in the subsurface. Carbon dioxide is produced from these accumulations primarily for enhanced oil recovery in the Permian Basin but also is used as the gas in soda pop, is made into dry ice for specialized refrigeration purposes, is used in fire extinguishers, and in a myriad of other applications. One of the largest known CO2 accumulations in the world is at Bravo Dome in northeast New Mexico and a new accumulation has recently been discovered in extreme western Catron County, New Mexico and adjacent areas of Arizona. Another new accumulation has been recently discovered at La Veda pass in southeast Colorado. See Open-file report 514 for more information.
NMT University Service
I have been involved in university-wide service at New Mexico Tech. Most recently, I have sat on the following committees.
- NMT Presidential Search Committee, 2015-2016
- NMT Search Committee for Vice President of Academic Affairs, 2016
- I have evaluated and assessed donations of land and mineral rights that have been given to New Mexico Tech by individuals who wish to contribute to Tech's well being.
- In the 2018-2019 academic year I will be co-organizing the Bureau of Geology/Earth and Environmental Sciences Seminar Series along with Dr. Andrew Luhmann of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department of New Mexico Tech.
Bell ringer for Socorro Puerto Segura/Salvation Army fundraising, November-December 2017.
- AAPG Imperial Barrel Award team. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Imperial Barrel Award is the premier worldwide collegiate geoscience competition in the world. Held every spring, teams of 5 master's degree geoscientists from universities around the world compete in a competition to use a realw world dataset to analyze a basin for petroelum prospectivity. This year 127 universities from 38 countries have teams entered in the competition. Winners from 12 regional competitions will face off at the Annual AAPG Meeting (held this year in Houston) to determine the top 3 places. Winning teams are selected on the basis of technical quality, clrity and originality of presentations made at the competetions. In 2016 I acted as co-advisor of the New Mexico Tech team.
- Graduate degree committees. I sit on thesis committees of graduate students in the Earth and Environmental Sciences and Petroleum Engineering Departments at New Mexico Tech. Recent student advisees are Jenna Donatelli who recieved her M.S. in Earth and Environmental Science in 2016 and Kelsey Seals who received her M.S. in Petroleum Engineering in 2017.
- Earth Science 460, Subsurface and Petroleum Geology, I taught this New Mexico Tech class as a volunteer annually from 1982 through 2013 to a class of petroleum engineering, geology, geophysics, and hydrology majors and have just completed my 30th year of instruction. The class contains a mix of graduate and undergraduate students. We emphasize analysis of strata and structures in the subsurface and also study how geology and petrophysics controls the origin and natural accumulation of hydrocarbons in the subsurface, with many examples given. The laboratory emphasizes hands-on activities and methodology such as contouring (both by hand and by computer), correlation of well logs, subsurface field and stratigraphic studies, and reservoir analysis with both drill cuttings and logs. Students analyze and describe well cuttings from productive reservoirs and integrate these analyses with log data. Any of the techniques learned in this class can be readily utilized in groundwater geology or CO2 sequestration. This is an applied academic course that stresses how geology can be applied practically. Emphasizes the importance of integrating geology and engineering for reservoir study and development.