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Geobiology, Geochemistry and Diagenesis of Carbonates

Diagenesis continuously alters carbonate rocks and consequently their petrophysical properties. Our research projects have thus a double focus; one to understand the diagenetic processes, and two, to relate the diagenetic alterations to the resulting rock properties. 
Modern sediments on Great Bahama Bank and elsewhere provide baseline information about the geochemical signature of “unaltered” carbonate platform sediments. Cores from the shallow subsurface along the western margin of Great Bahama Bank and in Florida document the effects of early diagenesis on porosity, velocity, and permeability in platform carbonates and grainstone shoal complexes in particular. The geochemical studies of the dolomites and limestones from deeper cores on Great Bahama Bank and the Marion Plateau are ideal to examine the influence of burial diagenesis on the petrophysical properties and to assess the fluid flow in isolated carbonate platforms. Deeply buried rocks that were later uplifted such as the Mississippian Madison Formation underwent several episodes of diagenesis from shallow to deep burial. Our current geochemical projects in this formation try to unravel these different episodes and to document the importance of each event on the reservoir quality of the formation. In addition, we test the applicability of geochemical tracers, in particular δ13C for the stratigraphic correlation of the widely spaced section in Wyoming and Idaho and to other sections around the world.

Current Projects

Global Synchronous Changes in the carbon isotopic composition of platform-derived sediments


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File Size:237KB


Investigators: Peter K. Swart and Amanda M. Oehlert

Project Description:

  • To correlate the carbon isotopic composition of periplatform sediments from globally disparate locations.

  • To ascertain the veracity of carbon isotopic archives in the ancient record using Modern and Neogene strata.




The Influence of Diagenesis on the C, B, and S Isotopic Composition of Carbonate Sediments


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Investigators: Evan Moore, Sean T. Murray, Amanda M. Oehlert, Ali Pourmand, Hilary Close, and Peter K. Swart

Project Description:

  • To rigorously calibrate the stable isotopes of B, C, and S so that these chemical proxies can be used to study both the paleoenvironment and the diagenesis of carbonates in older time periods.

  • To use compound specific C isotopic analysis to confirm interpretations made using bulk organic 13C values during freshwater diagenesis.

  • To investigate the behavior of B and S stable isotopes during meteoric and marine diagenesis.



The Behavior of Isotopes During the Dissolution of Carbonates by Phosphoric Acid


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Investigators: Peter K. Swart, Philip T. Staudigel and Sean T. Murray

Project Objectives:

  • To understand the behavior of the clumped isotope proxy (Δ47 values) during the dissolution of carbonates by phosphoric acid and consequently improve the understanding of the application of the clumped isotope proxy.



Towards an understanding of the use of Clumped Isotopes to study diagenesis


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File Size:540KB


Investigators: Megan Smith, Philip T. Staudigel, Florian Smit, David Hodell, Tony Dickson, and Peter K. Swart

Project Objectives:

  • To understand the behavior of the clumped isotope proxy (Δ47 values) during meteoric and early marine burial diagenesis.
  • To examine the calibration between the Δ47 value of aragonite and temperature.



The Formation and Dissolution of Celestine: A Possible Mechanism For Creating Secondary Porosity in Platform-Derived Sediments


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Investigators: Peter K. Swart, Greta J. Mackenzie, Emma Giddens, Jiaxin Yan and Gregor P. Eberli

Project Objectives:

  • To understand the importance of celestine formation on the occlusion and preservation of porosity.

  • To understand the influence of celestine upon the pore water geochemistry during and subsequent to its formation.




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