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Energy Minerals Division

A Division of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists

About Debra Higley

Debra Higley

Debra Higley, Ph.D., P.G.


Denver, Colorado

Oil (Tar) Sands Committee

Debra K. Higley, Ph.D., serves as the Chair the EMD Oil (Tar) Sands Committee. Her 28 years as a petroleum geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey were preceded by 5 years experience in uranium exploration. Focus areas of her approximately 100 (single and co-authored) publications and 50 abstracts have been on reservoir characterization, 1-D, 2-D, and 3-D petroleum system modeling, and petroleum resource assessment for basins in North and South America. Dr. Higley has co-chaired AAPG sessions on petroleum systems and modeling, and is a reviewer for AAPG Bulletin submittals.

A few of the more significant publications include:

  1. Higley, D. K., 2001, The Putumayo-Oriente-Maranon Province of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru: Mesozoic-Cenozoic and Paleozoic Petroleum Systems: U.S. Geological Survey DDS-063 v 1.00, 1 CD-ROM, 70 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/DDS-63/
  2. Higley, D. K., Cox, D. O., and Weimer, R. J., 2003, Petroleum system and production characteristics of the Muddy (J) Sandstone (Lower Cretaceous) Wattenberg continuous gas field, Denver Basin, Colorado: AAPG Bulletin v. 87, No. 1, p. 15-37.
  3. Higley, Debra K., Lewan, Michael D., Roberts, Laura N.R., and Henry, Mitchell, 2009, Timing and Petroleum Sources for the Lower Cretaceous Mannville Group Oil Sands of Northern Alberta Based on 4-D Modeling: AAPG Bulletin, v 93 no. 2, p. 203-230.

recent U.S.G.S. publications by Dr. Higley

Dr. Higley has served as the SEPM/RMS Treasurer (1991-91), Vice-president (1992-93), President-elect (1993-94); President (1994-95), and Advisor (1995-96). She was the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists Delegate to AAPG (2001-2004), Secretary (1998-1999), 2nd Vice President (2007), and Chairman of the Continuing Education Committee (2006-2008). Debra received the USGS Superior Service Award in 1992 and Distinguished Service to RMAG award in 2009.

She received a bachelor’s degree in 1977 from Mesa State College (Colorado), a Master’s degree in geochemistry in 1983 and Ph.D. in geology in 1994, both from the Colorado School of Mines. Dr. Higley is a member of AAPG-EMD, SEPM/RMS, CSPG, and the Tulsa Geological Society.