Project 632 - Continental Crises of the Jurassic
This IGCP project will more specifically focus on the Jurassic Period, starting with the mass extinction event that occurred 202 million years ago just prior to the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, through the Toarican anoxic event 183 million year ago and finally covering the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary at 145 million years ago where major lake systems expanded over continents. The Jurassic and Cretaceous constitute the ‘age of the dinosaurs’, a time interval with green house conditions when perennially warm vegetation types extended into the high-latitudes of Scandinavia, Greenland, China and in fact to the poles. The research focuses on major events and their relation to climatic and environmental changes within these ancient lacustrine ecosystems, and the correlation with the marine realm. Additionally, our project has a strong component of applied Earth sciences because these sediments host significant fossil fuel resources, including coal, gas and petroleum that are stored in the sub-surface.
Organic-rich shales and limestones are a prominent feature of most of our target areas. Particularly high total organic carbon content values are found in the paleo-tropics and high latitudes areas such as Eastern North America, Greenland, Scandinavia, Australia, and China. They have long been recognized as source rocks for coal, natural gas and oil, and have more recently been recognized as significant, unconventional resources that can be accessed through technological innovations, including horizontal drilling. Although future development of prosperous societies rely on access to energy resources, the negative effects of burning fossil fuels needs to be mitigated. One method successfully employed and developed, partly by the Swedish Geological Survey is CO2 sequestration where carbon dioxide is removed from flue gases at point sources such as power stations, before being stored in underground reservoirs. Another CO2 sequestration system that lends itself to a specific aspect of the geology of the Jurassic, the extremely widespread presence of flood basalts in both Northern and Southern hemispheres, is mafic rock carbonation in which CO2 reacts with rock in the reservoir to produce limestone. The feasibility to implement these methods will be investigated through sedimentological and geochemical studies in the outlined study areas.