Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Utah’s redrock may have changed global climate

04.12.2003


The Navajo Sandstone -- one of the brightly colored rock formations that comprise southern Utah’s famous redrock -- is exposed in the cliffs at Zion National Park, the Petrified Dunes at Arches National Park and in many parts of Capitol Reef National Park.

Now, a new study from the University of Utah concludes that bleaching patterns in the Navajo Sandstone suggest the rock formation once may have harbored vast amounts of hydrocarbons, likely natural gas (methane). And when the once-buried sandstone was exposed and started eroding roughly 6 million years ago, the gas would have been released to the atmosphere. Because methane is a so-called "greenhouse gas," the release of large quantities to the atmosphere may have warmed Earth’s ancient climate.

The study was published in the December 2003 issue of the journal Geology by Brenda Beitler, a University of Utah doctoral student in geology. A summary of that study is reproduced below. It was part of a news release issued by the Geological Society of America outlining contents of the December issue of Geology.




Bleaching of Jurassic Navajo Sandstone on Colorado Plateau Laramide highs: Evidence of exhumed hydrocarbon supergiants? Brenda Beitler, University of Utah, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0111, U.S.A.; et al. Pages 1041-1044.
Spectacular color variations in the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone in southern Utah have long attracted the attention of geologists and laypersons alike. In this paper, we explain the cause of the color variations and discuss the implications. The Navajo Sandstone is perhaps the largest eolian (sand dune) complex on Earth, past or present. Abrupt red-white color transitions are believed to be the result of reducing fluids, likely gas hydrocarbons, flowing through the sandstone pores and removing the red pigment.

Field mapping and analysis of satellite imagery indicate both stratigraphic and structural control on where fluids have left the sandstone "bleached." The most extensive regional bleaching occurs on eroded crests of broad asymmetrical uplifts produced during Laramide deformation (Cretaceous-Tertiary age). Alteration patterns suggest that the faults that core these uplifts were carriers for hydrocarbons and brought the buoyant bleaching fluids to the crests of the anticlines where they bleached the sandstone in both structural and stratigraphic traps.

The extent of bleaching indicates that the Navajo Sandstone may have been one of the largest hydrocarbon reservoirs known. These ancient hydrocarbon traps have been extensively eroded, potentially releasing the bleaching gas into the atmosphere. The magnitude of the reservoir suggests that hydrocarbon escape could be significant in global carbon fluxes and possibly influence climate.

Lee Siegel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utah.edu/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

nachricht How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>