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UL Geology gets Rock Eval Instrument

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CO2 levels now higher than any time in the last 23 million years

One of the most pressing messages that climate scientists attempt to convey to the public is how today’s CO2 levels compare to those of the Geologic past. Such comparisons can provide public context for current CO2 rise, as well as important information on the response of global temperatures to rising CO2. A new study published in Geology suggests that present-day CO2 levels (412 ppmv) are now likely higher than at any time in at least the last 23 million years!

In this newly published study, a team led by Brian Schubert, Associate Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, used the remains of dead plants to produce a new record of atmospheric CO2 that spans 23 million years of uninterrupted Earth history. Their findings relied on the nearly continuous record of terrestrial photosynthesis provided by organic matter accumulated from partially decomposed plants.

“When plants grow, the relative amount of the two stable isotopes of carbon, carbon-12 and carbon-13, changes in response to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere,” says Schubert. “One can therefore measure the relative amount of these two isotopes and calculate the CO2 concentration under which the plants grew.”

The remains of land plants can be used to calculate the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere. Photo credit: A. Hope Jahren

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Two Graduate Students win the GSA Graduate Research Grant

Please join us in congratulating two of our graduate students who recently won a GSA Graduate Research Grant for 202

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The School of Geosciences wins prestigious Field Camp Award

As our 2020 virtual field camp is kicking off today, our School has just been informed that we are this year's recip

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A Rock Eval 6 analyzer, designed for the characterization of petroleum source rocks, was recently installed in the School of Geosciences at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. "This instrument is the industry standard for evaluating rocks for their ability to generate oil and gas." said David Borrok, Director of the School of Geosciences. "This is a big deal for us. This is only the second Rock Eval 6 analyzer to be installed at a University in the United States."

Last year, Dr. Brian Lock, with support from Drs. David Borrok and Brian Schubert, put together a successful enhancement grant proposal to the Louisiana Board of Regents to secure the roughly quarter million dollar instrument. "We shall have the facilities for undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research and hope to get involved in projects where we gain access to study material (conventional cores, primarily) in exchange for providing data." said Dr. Brian Lock, "I hope to see multiple thesis projects emerge."

The instrument is designed with two ovens to perform pyrolysis and oxidation of rock material. The gases generated during this heating are carefully measured. It is these relationships that provide information on hydrocarbon generating capacity. The instrument can also be used for a variety of environmental applications that involve the characterization of hydrocarbons and organic matter.

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