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Oil: Classroom Activities

United States Oil and Gas Resources


Goal

investigate the locations of oil and gas reserves in the United States.

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Background Information

Sedimentary basins tend to curved downwards in shape (like a contact lens) while they fill with sediments over tens of thousands of years. Following the formation of sedimentary rocks they continue to be called basins, even if little of the original structure is evident. The oil bearing regions of the United States are the most explored and exploited of the country. Some people estimate that less than 35 percent of its reserves remain. The top ten oil fields contain for about 33 percent of the remaining oil.

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Activity Overview

Students examine a map of the United States that shows the locations of major petroleum basins.

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Materials and Equipment

Map "Oil and Gas Production" (below)

Table of oil production
Source: USGS website

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Activity

Table of oil production
Source: USGS website

 

  1. Provide copies of the Oil and Gas Production map to students. Alternatively, project the map for the whole class. You may also access similar information at the following USGS website.
  2. Have students examine the map and answer the following:
    1. Describe the regional distribution of oil and gas in the United States.
      Oil and gas production is concentrated in the central part of the country from the Gulf States through the Midwest to Canada. Oil is also found in Appalachia and Lakes Erie and Ontario. California also contains both resources.
    2. What geologic patterns do you see in regions that contain oil and gas?
      Oil and gas tends to be concentrated in belts which suggest some kind of layering in sedimentary rocks.
    3. Are oil and gas always found in the same region? Provide examples.
      No, California, Alaska, and the upper Midwest indicate that oil and gas do not always occur together.
    4. Which states have no oil and gas production?
      Several states have no production. These include, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana, Wisconsin, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.
    5. How far from your school is the nearest oil field?
      Answers will vary depending on location.
    6. How far from your school is the nearest gas field?
      Answers will vary depending on location.
    7. How far from your school is the nearest refinery?
      Answers will vary depending on location.
    8. Find out which states have the most and expensive and the least expensive gasoline. Explain why these differences occur.
      Answers will vary. State-based resources, the distance from refineries and levels of state gas taxes are important factors.

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