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Inside DrilIinginfo’s Map Drawers #2: Niobrara Formation


The first installment of Inside Drillinginfo’s Map Drawers was a big hit, so here is a second. I asked Senior GIS Technician III-Team Lead Lindsey Venable a few questions about this map of the Niobrara Formation. This is a gorgeous map that brings a lot of clarity to activity in the Niobrara Play.

Title: Niobrara Formation

Who asked for the map, and what did they ask for?

Dale Emrich, the Director of GIS, requested that we create this map for internal display at DI’s Austin headquarters. If you are ever at our office, keep an eye out for the framed version!

Which DI Cartography Group Made it?

GIS Department

Completion Date / Date of Production?

February 2013

Medium: Web / Print / Digital? (if web, WMS? WFS?)


Type or Style of Map (Projections?) (GCS? PCS?)

It is displayed in Transverse_Mercator UTM Zone 13N- NAD27. We wanted to preserve the overall shape of the states, so we chose the Transverse Mercator projection. UTM Zone 13N is the zone in which Wyoming and Colorado are best displayed. NAD27 is a common datum used at DI, so we went with that.

Sources of Data and How Processed?

Niobrara Formation references 2 of DI’s major datasets, Landtracs and Rigs. The Landtracs layer has been queried so that only leases expiring in 2013 and forward remain, removing expired acreage from the map. These Landtracs have then been symbolized by the top 11 grantees in unique colors, with the rest of the leases in gray. It also includes the play outline layer, produced here at DI. The elevation data comes from straight from ESRI.

Choice of Scale / Direction and why?

This map is set at 1:1,000,000. We chose this to get a sense of the whole play and overall elevation change.

Choice of Color Palette and Font(s) and why? Transparencies?

Outline_Gradient_Niobrara_FormationWe chose earth tones for elevation with white representing the highest areas. The play outline has a cool gradient effect created in a unique way. A multi ring buffer was created from the play outline. Negative values were added to create buffer polygons on the inside of the outline. Another field is added and each polygon receives a higher and higher values moving inward. The symbology is set to reference this field in relation to the transparency . The outermost polygons have a low transparency while the innermost polygons are completely transparent. Overall it gives a nice fade, allowing the center to be visible. Here is a close up of the effect.

Copperplate Gothic Bold is the font of choice and is just a classy way to make our map look professional.

Legends / Insets / Annotations / Other elements and why?

Our legend shows the top 11 leaseholders symbolized in a complementary color pattern. The leases stand out against the high elevation of the basin.
We chose our traditional symbol for the Rigs. Our inset map on the bottom left adds to the overall style of the map giving you a literal frame of reference for the location of the Niobrara formation.

Why we love it?

We love this map because it gives a good bird’s eye view of the major players in the Niobrara. It also highlights what one of our newest datasets, DI Rigs, while highlighting the extreme elevations in the Niobrara play. It also incorporates some interesting cartographic tricks. Overall, it does a good job of showing core DrillingInfo datasets while being aesthetically pleasing, which was its original purpose.

Your Turn

What do you think? What else would you like to know about this map? Leave a comment below.

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Eric Roach

Eric Roach is the editor of Drillinginfo's blog, which was selected as the Top Oil & Gas Industry Blog based on visibility, engagement and relevance. He also prepares a weekly newsletter of top industry news for blog subscribers, and would be grateful if you would subscribe and tell your friends. (There's a box on the upper right of the page where you can subscribe).