Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Committee Member

Andrew D. Hanson

Second Committee Member

Wanda J. Taylor

Third Committee Member

Ganqing Jiang

Fourth Committee Member

Sean Clark

Number of Pages



The presence of oil outside of Railroad Valley, northern Nye County has sparked the interest of exploration companies in Nevada. The geology in this region is very complex and the level of petroleum exploration is low. In order to understand the distribution of oil, a complete petroleum systems analysis is required. Previous studies confirmed that the Mississippian Chainman Shale and Cretaceous to Paleocene Sheep Pass Formation, Member B are source rocks. However, a number of other possible source rocks exist in northern Nye County, but they are not confirmed because of incomplete datasets. The goal of this thesis project is to determine if effective source rocks other than the Chainman Shale and Sheep Pass Formation exist in northern Nye County. I obtained samples from outcrops and used organic geochemistry to test the hypothesis that different strata, including Paleozoic Vinini, Pogonip, Woodruff, Guilmette Formations, Pilot Shale, Ely Limestone, and Cretaceous Newark Canyon Formation have the necessary qualities to be petroleum source rocks.

This evaluation revealed source rock potential for Woodruff Formation, but none of the other analyzed candidate units met the requirements for organic matter quantity, quality, and thermal maturity in order to be called source rocks. The Devonian Woodruff Formation displayed excellent organic matter quantity, and oil-prone kerogen type, however samples appeared to be thermally immature. Additional oil - source rock correlation suggested genetic relationship between the Woodruff Formation and Chainman-derived oils from Railroad Valley. This knowledge will help to estimate the petroleum potential of northern Nye County for future exploration and development in Nevada.


Geology; Stratigraphic; Nevada – Railroad Valley; Oil-shales; Organic geochemistry; Petroleum – Prospecting; Shale


Geochemistry | Geology | Stratigraphy

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit