A $137,000 award will help researchers understand how carbonate rocks, which are reservoirs for oil, are deposited.
Researchers at the Kansas Geological Survey and Kansas University have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study how rocks are deposited in shallow seas.
Evan Carl Franseen, associate scientist at the geological survey, and Robert H. Goldstein, associate professor of geology, are recipients of the $137,000 grant.
"By developing a better understanding of how certain rock layers are deposited, we hope to develop models that will ultimately aid in the production of oil and gas," Franseen said.
The geologists are focusing on limestone or dolomite rocks, collectively known as carbonates. Carbonate rocks are the reservoirs for much of the oil and natural gas production in Kansas. Researchers are interested in the factors that determine how these rocks are deposited in shallow seas.
"Deposition of these rocks is influenced by many factors -- the slope of the sea floor, wind and waves, climate, movements of the earth's crustal plates, global sea-level fluctuations," Franseen said. "Once we understand the importance of each of these variables, we will have a better understanding of the geologic record."
The researchers plan to focus their field work around the Mediterranean Sea on rocks deposited during the Miocene Period of geologic history, which began about 20 million years ago and ended about 5 million years ago.
"Miocene rocks in the Mediterranean area are some of the most exceptional exposures of carbonates in the world," Franseen said. "The area is a natural outdoor laboratory ideally suited to the study of these types of rocks.
"By understanding the different factors that control the deposition of these rocks, we should be able to better isolate the factors that influenced deposition of carbonate rocks in other places. This gives us valuable information about the importance different factors, such as ancient climates and variations in sea-level positions, had in forming carbonate rocks."