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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

Geomicrobiology of Holocene Freshwater Microbial Mud in the Florida Everglades


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Investigators: Chelsea L. Pederson, James S. Klaus, Donald F. McNeill, and Peter K. Swart

Project Description:

  • Link depositional and diagenetic signatures to microbial communities and metabolic processes (sulfate reduction, denitrification, etc.) using high throughput DNA sequencing of in-situ sediment samples.
  • Characterize the textural evolution of modern and recently buried freshwater carbonate mud in south Florida.
  • Evaluate the primary depositional signature and early diagenetic changes using geochemical analyses of sediments, organics, and pore waters.



Using Clumped Isotopes to Constrain Diagenetic Temperatures in Oceanic and Periplatform Carbonates


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Investigators: Philip T. Staudigel and Peter K. Swart

Project Description:

  • Use of the clumped isotope proxy as a method to constrain rates of diagenesis in oceanic sediments.

  • Calibrate existing diagenetic models based on geochemical and physical data.


Effects of Seawater Mg2+ and Ca2+ Concentrations on Sr, Mg, and S Elemental Partitioning in Scleractinian Corals


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Investigators: Sharmila J. Giri and Peter K. Swart

Project Objectives:

  • To further our knowledge of the partitioning of trace and minor (B, S, Sr, Mg, and Ba) elements into coral carbonates in relation to the Mg2+/Ca2+ ratio of seawater.
  • To investigate the influence that the Mg2+/Ca2+ ratio of seawater has upon growth rate.


Boron and Sulfur Isotopes: Original Signals or Diagenetic Indicators?


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Investigators: Sean Murray, Amanda M. Oehlert, Ali Pourmand, and Peter K. Swart

Project Objectives:

  • To understand changes in the B and S isotopic composition of carbonates subjected to well-constrained diagenetic conditions.
  • Apply B and S isotopic systematics to ancient sediments for the purposes of constraining the paleoenvironment and paragenesis.




Clumped Isotopes: The Future


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Investigators: Peter K. Swart

Project Objectives:

  • Acquisition of the next generation of clumped isotope instrumentation.
  • Automation of procedure.
  • Understanding of artifacts associated with the procedure.






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