Stratigraphic Renewal Project


Stratigraphic charts form the backbone of geological thought and concepts and underpin our understanding and perception of known and potential resource accumulations, including hydrocarbons.  It is now sixteen years since the last official update to the Trinidad and Tobago stratigraphic charts.  An industry undertaking is proposed with the goal to execute updates to the charts by June 2017, adhering to the North American and International stratigraphic codes.  It is envisioned that this project will be governed by the Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (GSTT). We view this as an opportunity for the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs, the operating companies, and academic institutions to pool their resources to produce a modern stratigraphic chart and stratigraphic template that will incorporate what has been learnt during the last half century about the onshore, shelf and deep water stratigraphy. Support from industry is integral to the success of this undertaking.

Stratigraphic Chart of Trinidad (Saunders et al 1998)strat


Project Name Trinidad & Tobago Basins Stratigraphic Renewal
Project Location Focus on onshore and offshore hydrocarbon basins across Trinidad and Tobago
Project budget USD 1,000,000
Target donor(s) Ministry of Energy & Energy Affairs (MEEA); resource operators (e.g. Water and Sewage Authority, quarry and petroleum operators, geotechnical engineering firms)
Project duration 3 years; with interim deliverables
Management GSTT
Primary stakeholders GSTT, MEEA, University of the West Indies; resource operators
Product copyrights GSTT


Primary Objective

The project seeks to assess the validity of the Trinidad stratigraphic charts in popular usage, implement short term measures geared at addressing uncertainties and execute recommendations adhering to the North American Stratigraphic Code and International Stratigraphic Guide. A primary outcome will be the production of an updated Stratigraphic chart that:

  • Covers all basins across Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Meets or exceeds standards of science and documentation established by the North American Stratigraphic Code.
  • Updates or replaces existing nomenclature based on modern scientific research (biostratigraphy, seismic stratigraphy, lithostratigraphy, magneto-stratigraphy etc.)
  • Incorporates new data


Project Management

The project will be managed by a Stratigraphic Executive Committee (SEC) on behalf of the Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago.  The SEC will comprise:

  • Chairman, nominated by the GSTT executive
  • Four executive members

The Chairperson will be responsible for populating the SEC that will then develop an operating framework, terms of reference, a plan that will include goals and deadlines and a budget, all of which will be approved by the GSTT executive committee. The SEC will hold ultimate responsibility for assessing and updating the Stratigraphic Chart.

The SEC will populate and supervise six Stratigraphic Working Groups (SWG) that will be divided by basins as shown in Annex 1.  The GSTT Secretariat will provide administrative support to the SEC.

The SEC is responsible for:

  • Setting strategic guidelines and deliverables needed for project success
  • Developing project terms of reference
  • Populating and providing direction to the SWGs
  • Soliciting support from stakeholders, including operating companies
  • Providing conflict resolution and manage expectations
  • Fostering collaboration among primary stakeholders

The membership of the SEC will commit to:

• attending scheduled meetings and/or communicate ideas and inputs.

• make timely decisions needed to progress the project.

• communicate with the GSTT executive any matter which may be deemed to affect progress


Members of the SEC will expect:

• that each member will be provided with complete, accurate and meaningful information in a timely manner

• to be given reasonable time to make key decisions

• open and honest discussions


Role of the Stratigraphic Working Groups

There will be six SWGs divided across (1) Carupano Basin/ Patao and Tobago; (2) Northern Range; (3) Central Range, including offshore extension; (4) Southern Basin Neogene, including Columbus Basin shelf and slope, Columbus Channel and southern Gulf of Paria; (5) Southern Basin Cretaceous to Paleogene, including southern Gulf of Paria; (6) and Northern and Caroni basins (see Annex 1).  Each SWG will comprise at least 4 members per team with technical experts to function across the various teams.  The role of the SWGs will be to:

  • Provide expertise, assistance and compilation of geologic information and identification of appropriate reference material.
  • Compile, write, edit and publish technical material when required.
  • Make formal recommendations to the stratigraphic committee.


Annex 1 – Distribution of Stratigraphic Working Groups


Participation in the SEC and SWGs will be on a volunteer basis.  Salary, stipend or consultant fees for specific deliverables or accountabilities must be approved by the GSTT executive.

Project outputs

Some of the primary outputs from this project will be:

  • Collation and publication of type sections, type localities & basin templates
  • Publish a revised geological map
  • Release of a formal stratigraphic column
  • Publish findings in a Treatise format
  • Presentations at local, regional and international conferences
  • The establishment of sites of geological interests that might be protected from development
  • Resource distribution chart


Operating Environment

The updates are being attempted at an opportune time in the resource history of Trinidad and Tobago with several competing variables, individual perceptions and legal requirements to be considered. Some of the key operating concerns will be:

a)      Project objectives will be achieved through volunteer effort.  This approach will require alternative and creative incentives for workers and contributors.

b)      Data security.  Much of the new and relevant data pertinent to this effort is held within the archives of resource operators such as petroleum and utility companies.  Clarity will be needed on the access to this data and returns to contributors, including copyright considerations. The GSTT will hold official copyright of all outputs arising from this effort.

c)      Home base.  An operational base is recommended for meetings, workshops and presentations.



A general approach to attaining project objectives will entail the following technical workflow:

  1. Understanding the current stratigraphic table
    1. Series of workshops (3) and learning sessions to educate volunteers and wider membership on key relationships within the current Table.
    2. Series of field sessions to demonstrate key aspects of the strat table
    3. Finalize objectives and volunteers for the SWGs
  2. Working sessions, including research, field assessments and consultations (3Q 2014 – 1Q 2016)

This stage aims to address specific issues identified within stage 1.  It may include both basin-specific or general objectives with resources as available and allocated by the SEC.

  1. Report writing and documenting (2-4Q 2016).
  2. Publication (1Q 2017)


Underpinning these stages will be the legal and budgetary framework that is coordinated by the SEC.


Stratigraphic Committee Members

Mr. Hasley Vincent

Mr Clement Ramroop

Ms Helena Inniss

Mr Anderson Arjoon

Ms Carol Telemaque

Mr Curtis Archie

Mr Monty Beharry



Expenses will include (but not limited to): fieldwork, expertise and consulting, travelling, storage and analysis lab fees, equipment rental and usage, room rental (for project), scribe fees.

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