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Vaca Muerta Shale: Insights from the Outcrop to the Subsurface

Sponsored by: AAGGP

Thursday, 30 November – Sunday, 3 December 2023, 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.  |  Neuquén, Argentina

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Who Should Attend

Trip Sponsor

The course is designed for exploration, development and production geologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists, geomechanics as well as reservoir, stimulation, production and drilling engineers who wish to broaden and deepen their understanding of shale reservoirs.


  • Recognition and characterization of the Vaca Muerta shale in outcrop scale.
  • Analysis of the vertical and areal variability of the Vaca Muerta Fm in terms of lithologies, thickness, stacking pattern trends, parasequences, interfaces, faults and natural fractures, among others.
  • Characterization of the Vaca Muerta Fm. at different palaeoenvironmental settings of the Neuquen Basin, from Early Tithonian to Early Valanginian.
  • Establish analogies between outcrop and subsurface data.
  • Working scales: outcrop-seismic-log-core.
  • Discussions on the impact of the different elements recognized (lithofacies, biofacies, structures, stratigraphy) on real problems associated with the development of Vaca Muerta´s unconventional resources.

Course Content

This field trip will provide attendees with the overview of the Vaca Muerta Formation geology and development.

Classic outcrops of the Vaca Muerta Fm. in the Neuquen Basin will be explored, visiting areas located nearby Neuquen, Zapala and Chos Malal cities.

Along a 4-day field trip, we will go through all the sequences from the Tithonian to the Valanginian, covering several palaeogeographic settings and discussing the analogies between the geological factors that influence the development of Vaca Muerta and the geological features observed in the outcrops.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with a field guide that combines data sources from different scales of work (outcrop, seismic, log, core, etc).

Discussions about current challenges on the development of the Vaca Muerta Shale will be addressed from geological standpoint, analyzing the impact of the depositional elements recognized in the outcrops on horizontal wells placement, target selection and completion designs.

We will give a complete overview to discover the geological reasons that explains why Vaca Muerta has become a world-class shale reservoir.

Field Trip Leaders

Franco Vittore

Principal Geologist at YPF SA, with +20 years of experience in O&G industry. He joined YPF in 2003 as Development Geologist in different projects in Golfo San Jorge Basin. Since 2012 he has held different technical positions in the Neuquen Basin as part of the Loma Campana (YPF-Chevron) and La Amarga Chica (YPF-Petronas) assets teams. He is a technical referent in Geology of the Unconventional Projects for YPF, teaching several internal courses on Development and Geology of the Vaca Muerta Play. He has more than 50 internal publications and in national and international conferences, memoirs, books, magazines on development of conventional and unconventional reservoirs.

Germán Otharán

Ph.D. Geologist with +9 years of experience conducting applied research on sedimentology and stratigraphy of the Vaca Muerta shale at different scales, integrating outcrop data with subsurface cores recovered from different basin positions. Author of 7 papers, 3 book chapters and +20 conference abstracts. Research interests focus on understanding the key geological attributes that control the productivity of unconventional wells. Actively contributes to the peer-review process of manuscripts submitted to Marine & Petroleum Geology, Basin Research, Energy and Fuels, Engineering, among other journals. Currently works as Development Geologist at YPF in Loma Campana asset team (operated by YPF and Chevron), and as a Professor Assistant in Sedimentology at Universidad Nacional del Sur.

Itinerary Roster

Day 1 (30/11):
Depart from Neuquén City Airport 08:00
Tavel to Yesera del Tromen Outcrop
Night at Chos Malal Hotel
Day 2 (1/12):
Travel to Puerta Curaco Outcrop
Night at Zapala Hotel
Day 3 (2/12):
Tavel to Los Catutos, Cerro Caracoles, Arroyo Covunco and Sierra de la Vaca Muerta Outcrops
Night at Zapala Hotel
Day 4 (3/12):
Visit Picun Leufu Outcrop
Return from Zapala and arrival to Neuquén City Airport 16:30 approx.

Note: Fee does NOT include transportation from Buenos Aires to Neuquén City Airport.


Nonmember Fee
AAGGP Member Fee
Student Fee
Attendee Limit
10 Professionals
2 Students
Fee Includes:
Field Guide
Transport in Neuquén Province
Dinners and Lunchs

Note: All prices are quoted in USD.

Register for this field trip during URTeC registration.

Refunds for short courses can be made no later than 20 October. No refunds can be made after this date. In the event that the minimum number of registered participants is not met, we will issue a full refund to those who have registered.


Vaca Muerta Shale: Insights from the Outcrop to the Subsurface
Juan Domingo Perón International Airport
San Martín 5901
Neuquén, Neuquén Q8300