Mineral Rights Glossary: Plat Maps, General Maps, and More

When exploring the subsurface of the earth, oil, and natural gas surveyors are to be very specific. Specifically about exactly where the operations are happening. But there is more to the simple basic geographical features of any mineral operating site. It is also important to consider the land’s history and potential for production. This relates to the remaining resources below the earth. This informative article will outline the definitions for general maps, plat maps, and other considerations. This includes locating mineral rights holdings and operations.

What are Plat Maps?

Plat maps are specific, cadastral maps that outline the definite borders of a property area. Always under drawing to scale, plat maps are used all over the United States. This is to help define residential areas, corners, borders, vegetation areas, and private property jurisdictions. How is it useful in mineral rights? Plat maps are typically only helpful if the property owner controls both the surface area and subsurface rights. The scope is the specific physical space.

How do I get a copy of my local plat map?

Do you want to receive a copy of your property’s plat map? You must contact the local county office or operator of the most recent land survey. Oftentimes, a plat map can be provided by a county recorder. It may require a small fee for materials and labor too. Plat maps may be provided at the time of sale, alongside the property deed.

Is a plat map the same as a survey?

Plat map can be both the product of and an integral part of a broad land survey. However, they are technically not the same thing. Plat maps tend to cover a lot of ground. They are generally useable to showcase divisions and help settle property disputes. On the other hand, surveys are typically useable to explore and display more complex information. Basically, more than simple property boundaries.

What are General Maps?

General maps can refer to a wide range of photographs and visualizations. This helps provides information about a mineral rights location. There are many different types of documents that fall under the general map category. This includes interpreted seismic maps, oil and gas basin or field maps. Moreover, aerial photos are shot from above the land, well logs, and any other helpful information. The United States Energy Information Administration hosts many public resources.  Basically for viewing various oil, gas, and other mineral maps across the United States.

What are Interpreted Seismic Maps?

A seismic map with full interpretation is a type of hazard map. This is often under review before exploring a new or old mineral exploration area. Seismic maps are a necessary part of any mineral investigation, so as to review past, present, and future seismic considerations. In general, most interspersed seismic maps include information about previous local faults and earthquakes as they relate to immediate and adjacent land areas.

Oil Formation Structure and Thickness (isopach) Maps

In large oil basins below the surface of the earth, multiple maps are a requirement. This is to help outline natural resource reserves’ complete characteristics. For instance, Page 4 of the Marcellus Shale Play survey showcases a structure map, with a thickness map providing more information on the same area on the following page.

Here, the structure map shows the oil well distribution of the site. A display alongside general elevation lines below a large area. This covers multiple states in the American northeast. Once they identify the areas in the structure map, the calculation of the approximate reserves is under process using the information on the thickness map.

Together, the two maps are able to provide oil and gas operators with the information necessary to determine the most strategic and profitable points of resource extraction. Once the specific site has been determined, oftentimes a complete geological cross-section map is added to the portfolio to showcase the drilling from another angle.

What is a well log?

In oil and gas exploration, a well log is not a piece of a tree that has fallen down a water hole. Instead, a well log is the detailed record of drilling and exploration at any particular mineral well. Well logging is also known as borehole logging is very important to the ongoing efficiency, success, and safety of any mineral operation.

Well logs are not technically a map in the traditional sense. Long and historic “wirelines” often illustrate the information on display like a graph, rather than a simple list of what has happened.

Final Thoughts

While many of us will never have the full comprehension to explore mineral maps beyond simple plat maps and aerial photographs, there are many different data visualization methods that are critical to the oil and gas industry overall.

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