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
Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute
Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine