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Shallow and Deep-Water Carbonates

The research within the CSL is starting to move into a new direction. Several projects

in shallow-water tropical carbonates of the Bahamian archipelago and the unconventionals

in the Neuquén Basin are winding down. The focus shifts to other exciting areas and topics.

In collaboration with OceanX, three research cruises to the rift basins in the Red Sea and

the Gulf of Aqaba have collected a trove of data for the investigation of many processes in

active rift basin. For example, the mixed depositional rift settings allow us to examine

the climatic feedbacks that link terrigenous and marine processes. Likewise, the deep-sea

microbialites from the Gulf of Aqaba expand our understanding of microbial processes.

With the help of ENI we are securing the cores from a lowstand fringing reef offshore

Mozambique that grew during the last glacial maximum. These reefs drowned during

deglaciation and were never subaerially exposed, giving us the opportunity to study

unaltered marine cementation in a reefal systems. In addition, the diverse reef

community is intimately covered with microbial crusts which again adds a new aspect to

our microbialite theme. This core data will be a major focus in our shallow-water

carbonate theme. In addition, two projects concentrate on Joulter Cays, Bahamas, the

classic area of modern ooid formation. A third project assesses the reservoir properties of

middle to late Eocene carbonates of the Apulia Carbonate Platform.

Our research effort in carbonate contourite depositional systems continues with

maintaining and updating the carbonate contourite data base and with a project that

investigates the geometry, unconformities, and thickness variation of the sediment drifts along the

Campeche Bank and Florida Straits.

Current Projects

Mozambique Shelf Cores – Research Initiative


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Investigators: Gregor P. Eberli, Ricardo Argiolis, Iva Tomchovska, Ralf J. Weger, James Klaus, Peter K. Swart, Amanda Oehlert, and others

Project Objectives

  • To decipher the initiation, growth and drowning of the fringing reef during the last glacial maximum.
  • To assess the composition of the reef and the contribution of microbial crusts in stabilizing the reef.
  • To thoroughly analyze the diagenetic alteration in this reef that was never exposed to fresh water.
  • To produce a comprehensive petrophysical data set of the core material that includes porosity, acoustic velocity, and resistivity.



Overfilling of Accommodation in a Modern Ooid Sand Body A Record of Climate (Storm Frequency) Change


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Investigators: Paul (Mitch) Harris, Juan Carlos Laya, and Pete van Hengstum

Project Objectives

  • Forward the hypothesis that the geomorphology of South Joulter Cay results from punctuated intervals of local hurricane activity impacting hydrodynamic and depositional conditions.
  • Suggest a correspondence between island growth stages and periods of elevated storm activity documented from Millennial-scale Atlantic paleo hurricane compilations.
  • Given the absence of a local paleo hurricane reconstruction from Northern Andros, the Joulters geomorphology may be informing local activity.


50 years of Research on the Joulters Ooid Shoal: Impact on Carbonate Sedimentology and Diagenesis and Lessons Learned from an Invaluable Analog


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Investigators: Paul (Mitch) Harris

Project Objectives:

  • The Joulters sand body is a vast expanse of muddy ooid sands (packstones) rimmed by clean ooid sands (grainstones), which would produce a thin (average thickness 4 m) reservoir layer of significant extent (~400 km2).

  • It’s importance as a subsurface analog is considered in this comprehensive review as it illustrates the strike elongated nature of carbonate sand reservoirs relative to the platform margin, lateral heterogeneity that is inherent in such depositional systems and reservoirs due to sand flats and tidal channels, and complexity that is added due to beach/island complexes and their associated diagenesis.
  • An understanding of the development of depositional and diagenetic patterns in the Joulters example provides valuable insight to our interpretation of ancient accumulations.


Reservoir Properties of the Apulia Carbonate Platform (Gargano Promontory, Italy)


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Investigators: Claudia Morabito, Michele Morsilli, Ralf J. Weger, and Gregor P. Eberli

Project Objectives:

  • Analyze the middle to late Eocene carbonate system of the Apulia Carbonate Platform.

  • Conduct Acoustic velocity, Resistivity and Digital image analysis for a reservoir characterization.
  • Identify the mineralogy to better understand variations in the petrophysical properties of the measured samples.



Decoding the Evolution of the Loop Current - Gulf Stream from Sediment Drifts


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Investigators: Sara Bashah and Gregor P. Eberli

Project Objectives:

  • Sediment drifts along the Campeche Bank and the Florida Straits reflect changes in the Loop Current-Gulf Stream circulation patterns through the Neogene.

  • Geometry, unconformities, and thickness variation of the sediment drifts archive the current strength, width, and direction along the Campeche Bank and Florida Straits.
  • Changes in past climate affected sediment distribution in Campeche Bank and Florida Straits, which is crucial for understanding global teleconnections, feedback thresholds, and forcing mechanisms.




Rift Carbonates, Brine Pools, and Deep Sea Microbialites in The Red Sea – Part III


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Investigators: Morgan Chakraborty, Amanda Oehlert, Peter K. Swart, and Sam J. Purkis

Project Objectives:

  • To characterize rift basin carbonates in an active maritime rift setting.

  • To analyze a new dataset acquired in 2023 from the NEOM Brine Pool (Gulf of Aqaba) to evaluate the genomics and geochemistry of deep-sea extremophile microbial mat-forming communities.




Climate Modulation of Siliciclastic Input into the Red Sea Rift


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Investigators: Sam J. Purkis, Bolton J. Howes, Jake M. Longenecker, Morgan I. Chakraborty, and Akos Kalman

Project Objectives:

  • To examine the climatic feedbacks that link terrigenous and marine processes in mixed depositional rift settings.


Arsenic as a Chemical Biosignature in Microbialites: Does Accretion Mechanism Matter?


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Investigators: Clément G. L. Pollier, Brooke E. Vitek, R. Pamela Reid, Erica P. Suosaari, and Amanda M. Oehlert

Project Objectives:

  • Identify the mechanisms of arsenic incorporation in microbialites formed by a range of accretion modes within Hamelin Pool, Western Australia.




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