Insights into the Burial, Tectonic, and Hydrologic History of the Cenozoic Succession in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica through Analysis of Diagenetic Phases
This project will use sediment cores from the Victoria Land Basin (VLB), Antarctica, to study secondary (diagenetic) carbonate minerals, as indicators of the basin?s fluid-flow history, within the well-constrained tectonic, depositional, and climatic context provided by sediment cores. This study will provide insights into subsurface processes in Victoria Land Basin, Antarctica and their relationships with the region?s climatic, cryospheric, and tectonic history. The work will utilize cores previously recovered by US-sponsored stratigraphic drilling projects (CIROS, CRP, and ANDRILL projects). This work is motivated by the unexpected discovery of dense brine in the subsurface of Southern McMurdo Sound during drilling by the ANDRILL Southern McMurdo Sound project. The presence of the brine is intriguing because it contradicts previous models for the origin of subsurface fluids that called upon large contributions from glacial melt water. Project objectives involve documenting the distribution of the brine (and potentially other fluids) via characterization of diagenetic precipitates. The approach will involve integration of petrographic and geochemical data (including conventional carbon, oxygen, and ?clumped? isotopes) to fully characterize diagenetic phases and allow development of a robust paragenetic history. This work will provide novel insights into the Cenozoic evolution of the VLB and, more broadly, the role of glacial processes in generating subsurface fluids.
Results from this project will help understand the origins of brines, groundwater and hydrocarbon reservoirs in analogous modern and ancient deposits elsewhere, which is of broad interest. This project will support the training of one graduate and one undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) providing learning opportunities in sedimentary geology and diagenesis, fields with wide applicability. This proposal emphasizes rapid dissemination of results to the scientific community via conference presentations and contributions to peer-reviewed publications. The results will be integrated into education activities designed to develop skills in petrography and diagenesis, which are highly sought after in the energy sector. The project will generate a well-constrained dataset that allows direct linkage of diagenetic phases to environmental and tectonic change across a large sedimentary basin which will provide the basis for a comprehensive case study in an upper-level course (Sedimentary Petrography and Diagenesis) at UNL. In addition, online exercises will be developed and submitted to an open-access site (SEPM Stratigraphy Web) dedicated to sedimentary geology.
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