Research being taken up by the Kansas Geological Survey under a newly-awarded grant is trying to figure out how old and how warm the sublayers of geology are where oil and gas might be found.
“We’re trying to figure out a way to date carbonates and shales,” said geologist Tandis Bidgoli from the Kansas Geological Survey. “Marine carbonates and shales as geological units, they don’t have a lot of material within them that can be dated. When we’re trying to reconstruct geological histories, we sort of have a gap in information from those types of stratographic intervals.”
The $110,000 grant from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund will attempt to use these microscopic tooth like fossils called conodonts to accurately date the age of Western Kansas rock along with comparison rock in Nevada and Utah.
“That was something kind of like an eel,” said Bidgoli. “These fossils, the wonderful thing about them is they’re very abundant in marine carbonates and shales. When you look in Kansas, for example, we see lots of limestones and shales in our stratographic record and those rocks often contain these particulat types of fossils.”
Knowing the stratographic history of a given place can assist in deciding where to begin exploration for oil and gas.
“if you were working in a basin and you wanted to understand if the rocks in that basin were heated to temperatures high enough, for example, to generate oil and gas, this type of technique could be used to understand and extract that kind of thermal history information,” said Bidgoli. “From a practical standpoint, we can start to say something about maybe where we have rocks that are mature enough to generate oil and gas.”
This can save money for those exploring for those substances as they wouldn’t have to drill where the rocks weren’t of the right age and type. The American Chemical Society, which has 157,000 members, is a nonprofit organization that supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry.