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Calibrating geothermometers: integrating field, laboratory and well data for appraising thermal maturation of organic matter - NERC


Project Description

Technology development and R&D within the petroleum sector has often been a result of response to demands and competition, tailored to specific needs without wider implications. Of prime importance is the ability to integrate data and methodologies from several sources to provide an holistic view of challenges and opportunities, particularly with respect to the thermal alteration of organic matter and thus potential reserves. With a significant shift towards unconventional resources (coal-bed methane, rifted volcanic basins) and the extension of mature basins, there is a need to develop and calibrate new laboratory and field assessment approaches. This project focusses on both field and lab-based techniques that have the capability to provide an updated framework for understanding the relationships between unconventional hydrocarbons, their thermal evolution and potential reserves.

Metamorphic aureoles around intrusions can be considered excellent natural laboratories for studying thermal alteration of organic matter, alongside carbonate and clay minerals in sedimentary rocks. Metamorphic index minerals, fluid inclusion analyses of silicate/carbonate minerals (δ18O for temperatures) and Raman spectroscopic analyses of carbonaceous materials will be combined to produce geothermometric data surrounding intrusions. These data will be calibrated against magmatic geothermometers (e.g. Al-in-olivine geothermometry) to constrain minimum temperatures of thermal alteration, alongside potential for constraining minimum and maximum cooling rates of emplaced material.

Samples will be collected from localities on the West coast of Scotland for a detailed suite of analyses of intrusions adjacent to organic rich shales (Raman spectroscopy of solid carbon, low grade metamorphic index minerals) and siliciclastics and carbonates (silicates/carbonates/cements, fluid inclusions).

This study will allow for a more complete appraisal of the extent of thermal alteration of sedimentary organic matter with implications for understanding the co-precipitation of organic and inorganic minerals and compounds, downhole logging correlation, basin wide thermal gradients in rifted margin settings and the efficacy of mineralogical geothermometers. Work will build upon research by Muirhead focused on the thermal alteration of organic materials and compliment research by Brasier on carbonate mineralisation and sediment diagenesis.
Understanding the thermal alteration of organic materials and their relationships to inorganic minerals has implications not just for the petroleum sector, but for any sub-surface fluid flow (e.g. aquifers, barriers to fluid flow, carbon capture and storage). The student will receive training in Raman spectroscopy, fluid inclusion microthermometry, scanning electron microscopy, alongside the integration of large datasets into data mining packages such as R. These will give the student a significant advantage when seeking employment or further academic roles, with the potential to generate important publications in these novel approaches. The student will join a large cohort of HC focused PhD students, including PhDs studying contact metamorphism, intrusion related maturation of hydrocarbons, fold-thrust belt thermal alteration of sedimentary organic matter, as well as those utilising Raman spectroscopy and fluid inclusion analyses.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Geology or a relevant subject.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:

• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geology
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘NERC’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

Application closing date is 12:00pm (GMT) on 1 March 2019. Applications received after this time will NOT be considered. Additionally, incomplete applications will NOT be considered.

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• CV
• 2 References (Academic, where possible)

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr D Muirhead () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

The start date of the project is 1 October 2019



Funding Notes

Funding Notes

4 Year fully funded studentship. To check your eligibility please visit View Website. We CANNOT accept applications from International students

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