Michael D. Vanden Berg

Senior geologist

Utah Geological Survey



Michael Vanden Berg has worked at the Utah Geological Survey for the past 13 years and is currently a senior geologist and the Petroleum Section Manager in the Energy and Minerals Section. Vanden Berg has been actively researching the lacustrine deposits of the Green River Formation for several years, making comparisons to similar deposits in Great Salt Lake.  He has a B.S. degree in geology from Calvin College, an M.S. degree in geology from the University of Utah, and has published more than 20 peer-reviewed papers and over 50 abstracts.


Title: Exploring Utah’s Other Great Lake: What Great Salt Lake Can Tell Us About Ancient Lake Uinta

1:45pm - Wednesday, May 11th

Abstract: Geologists at the Utah Geological Survey are actively researching the many similarities between the modern Great Salt Lake and the ancient (50 million year old) Lake Uinta, recorded in the lacustrine deposits of the Green River Formation in the Uinta Basin.  Characteristics of both lake environments include shallow-water, ramp margins that are susceptible to rapid widespread shoreline changes, as well as comparable water chemistry and temperature that were ideal for microbial growth and formation/deposition of associated carbonate grains.  Thus, microbialites in Great Salt Lake and cores/outcrops from the Green River Formation exhibit similarities in terms of microbial textures and fabrics.  Lacustrine facies and microbialites can also act as excellent hydrocarbon reservoirs.  In fact, the West Willow Creek oil field in the Uinta Basin produces from a Green River Formation microbial buildup/mound.  A better understanding of modern microbialite formation can help petroleum geologists better understand ancient microbial carbonate reservoirs in Utah and worldwide.