Drilling for oil is expensive – and only too often unsuccessful: in 80 to 90 per cent of all attempts the drill head ends up in worthless sediment rather than hitting the black jackpot as intended. In this way, with every unsuccessful drilling, companies squander several million euros. Yet there is an alternative: the use of tiny fossilised single-celled organisms can reveal to the expert where prospecting for oil is worth while, a dying art at which only a few specialists worldwide still remain proficient. A micro-palaeontologist at the University of Bonn is now training specialists in this discipline in conjunction with the firm RWE/DEA.
Some of them look like two-euro pieces made of limestone. For oil companies they can be worth their weight in gold, these unicellular organisms from the foraminifer group. In the sediments of the oceans there are sometimes veritable mass graves of these ancient fossils, which are shaped like round, flat discs or small bulbous lenses, some of them smooth, some provided with bizarre protuberances. What they all have in common is the porous limestone shell with which they are surrounded – and which makes them so important in the search for black gold. The reason for this is that sediments with a high proportion of foraminifers can absorb oil and gas in the porous limestone mantles like an enormous sponge – ideal conditions for the existence of a large deposit.
“Oil is formed when organic material is subjected to pressure and high temperatures, usually at a depth of several kilometres beneath the surface of the land or the ocean bed,” Professor Martin Langer of the Bonn Institute of Palaeontology explains. From there the oil passes through the strata of rock above as if through blotting paper, until it is prevented from rising further, for example by a layer of clay, which acts as a kind of lid. Whether the deposit is likely to yield a lot of oil basically depends – apart from the shape of the “lid” – on the storage capacity of the rock strata involved.
Professor Martin Langer | alfa
Quick, Precise, but not Cold
17.05.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
A laser for divers
03.05.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
Computer scientists use wave packet theory to develop realistic, detailed water wave simulations in real time. Their results will be presented at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference.
Think about the last time you were at a lake, river, or the ocean. Remember the ripples of the water, the waves crashing against the rocks, the wake following...
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...
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...
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...
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...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
29.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.06.2017 | Life Sciences
29.06.2017 | Health and Medicine