Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tracking sand grains across super-continents narrows search for oil and gas off the west coast of Ireland

29.11.2007
Using laser analysis techniques never previously applied to sandstone, researchers at University College Dublin have discovered that sand grains in drill cores from the Corrib gas field off the west coast of Ireland originated from Greenland and Canada, not from Ireland as previously thought.

According to the findings published in Geology, a leading scientific journal published by the Geological Society of America, the sand grains were transported there by ancient rivers, up to 1,000 km long, which drained a now-vanished super-continent some 230 million years ago.

“With this new geological discovery, we can highlight other areas off the western Irish seaboard where similar sandstones to those from the Corrib gas field are likely to have been laid down by these newly-discovered ancient rivers,” says Dr Shane Tyrrell from the UCD School of Geological Sciences who led the research. “And because these sandstones are proven to act as good reservoirs for hydrocarbons, this will help narrow the search for potential oil and gas accumulations off the west coast of Ireland.”

Sandstones are made up of many individual grains of different minerals, and oil or gas can be stored in the spaces between these grains. Its potential to store oil and gas is related to the area from which the individual sand grains originated.

The new technique applied by the UCD geologists involves sampling individual grains using a laser. The laser drills a small hole into the sand grains and a stream of gas carries particles into a mass spectrometer which is used to measure the different isotopes of lead (Pb). “By sampling with a laser we were able to measure Pb isotopes in individual grains of the mineral K-feldspar, a common component in sandstones” explains Dr Tyrrell.

“Pb isotopes in K-feldspar grains have a very distinct fingerprint which they carry with them as they are released from rocks by erosion and are transported to where they form the sandstone under investigation. By linking the sand grains to their source, it is possible to track ancient rivers and the pre-historic pattern of uplands and basins”

“Rocks from different regions on Earth can have distinct abundances of Pb isotopes so we could tell that K-feldspar sand grains from the Corrib gas field could only have originated from Greenland and Canada” says Dr Tyrrell. “Greenland and North America were, of course, much closer to Ireland 230 million years ago, as the Atlantic Ocean had not yet formed.”

“Beneath the seas surrounding our island, there are deep sedimentary basins which have been developing for the last 250 million years,” says Dr Tyrrell. “These sedimentary basins have been the focus of much research at the UCD School of Geological Sciences, as they are current targets for oil and gas exploration.” This particular study, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, is currently being expanded to investigate other sandstones in basins along the NE Atlantic margins.

Dominic Martella | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ucd.ie

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Heavy nitrogen molecules reveal planetary-scale tug-of-war
20.11.2017 | Rice University

nachricht Colorado River's connection with the ocean was a punctuated affair
16.11.2017 | University of Oregon

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

Less is more to produce top-notch 2D materials

20.11.2017 | Materials Sciences

Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>