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
In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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