Research project

Project fact sheet

Improving clumped isotopes to decipher the thermal history of carbonate basins

Project researcher(s): 
Qi Adlan
Project supervisor(s): 
Dr C├ędric M. John
January, 2018 - December, 2021

This project, sponsored by the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP Scholarship), is focused on understanding and applying clumped isotope paleothermometry to subsurface carbonate reservoirs.

The project has a number of objectives. First, improvements in lab procedures are needed in order to reliably measure carbonates that come from an active reservoir and are contaminated by oil and gas residue. To that effect, we are testing a method called 'oxygen plasma ashing' to see it's impact on cleaning the sample. In particular, we worry about subtle but measurable isotopic effects: these need to be ruled out before the method can be applied with confidence.

Second, we intend to measure a number of samples to improve our understanding of the effect of heating on carbonates. These will include a mix of laboratory heating experiments, but also natural samples coming from a range of different locations. The goal is to obtain a more accurate idea of what controls the arhenius parameters of natural minerals.

Third, the project will focus on a case study in the subsurface of the Middle East, where we have obtained samples from a Lower Cretaceous reservoir in collaboration with an institute in the region. There, we can use clumped isotopes coupled with existing data to explore how this proxy helps us in deciphering between direct carbonate precipitation and oxygen diffusion processes at high-temperatures.

Overall, this project should add to the growing evidence that clumped isotopes are a very useful tool for diagenetic research, specifically for the thermal history of carbonate-dominated basins. The case study will also provide further insight on the regional subsidence and thermal history of the Middle East.