Reconstruction of environmental controls on oil shale formation in Jordan: a paired organic and inorganic geochemical approach

Project Leader: Professor Tom Wagner, Dr Martin Jones, Dr Simon Poulton

Project Details

oil shaleOil shale is one of the largest potential energy resources in the world; global oil shale reserves comprise 411 billion tons, equivalent to 2.9 trillion US barrels. This represents 30 times the reserve of conventional crude oil. For example, a conservative estimate of oil shale reserves in Jordan is around 50 billion tons, around 12% of the world reserves.

Two complementary PhD programs are underway to develop a fundamental understanding of the controls on the distribution and quality of sedimentary organic matter of the oil shale in both space and time. The geochemical projects at Newcastle University will build on a wider research network including Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany) and an industrial partner.

The two research projects use core transects through strategic areas of the basin with a focus on sedimentary organic matter concentration and quality and the reconstruction of palaeo-redox conditions.

The analytical work program combines a wide range of analytical techniques, including:

  • bulk organic analyses (EA-IRMS, for biomarker samples) paired with GC, GC-MS, HPLC-MS, bulk isotopic (organic carbon, nitrogen and sulfur) and GC-IRMS biomarkers analyses.
  • ICP-OES and ICP-MS analyses of redox-sensitive and continental-derived elements. On selected cores comparison of ICP data with high resolution FT-NIRS and non-destructive XRF element records followed by statistical (frequency) analyses.
  • sequential extraction of Fe and P and subsequent analyses using Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS) for Fe, chromous chloride gravimetric precipitation for pyrite, and ICP-OES and UV-VIS spectrophotmetry for P.

Academic Staff

PhD students

  • Mr Suha Aqleh
  • Mr Mohammad Alalaween