Dr Roger Taylor is presenting three economic geology short courses in Melbourne in August. Strongly recommended.
- Field Assessment of Gossans and Leached Cappings, 28th August
- Coping With Skarns and Their Relationship to Carbonate Replacement Deposits, 29th – 30th August
- Ore Textures and Breccias, 31st August
Sonoro Energy acquired promising oil and gas acreage from Stockbridge Group in 2016 and set about drilling what proved to be a discovery. The company commenced drilling the LG-1 Updip appraisal well in October 2017, with site operations lasting 50 days, in part due to difficult drilling conditions and numerous gas shows and kicks.
Sonoro attempted to test the well in an open hole using a formation testing tool. High porosity and weakly consolidated Miocene sands saw considerable sand and fluid ingress into the well and testing was not successful. It was determined that further testing in an uncased well was potentially dangerous and then cased and cemented and suspended the well. This operation was approved by the regulator, SKKMIGAS.
The permit however was at the end of this term and a renewal was required to perforate and test the well with a work-over rig.
However, the Ministry of Energy in Indonesia declined to extend the Budong Budong production-sharing contract. It would appear that Sonoro has undertaken the approved program and made a discovery. The decision to not extend the PSC does not help the international image of the country and the Minister should reconsider.
200 AMU macromolecular organics detected in plumes on Enceladus
Cassini was intentionally crashed into the atmosphere of Saturn late in 2016, to avoid contamination of any of the moons of the planet. While that ended data collection from Saturn and its moons, data analysis continues to produce surprises. Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbours a global ocean beneath an icy crust and above a rocky core.
A surprising discovery in 2005 which initiated widespread debate on the potential of Enceladus to harbour life was the observation of active cryo-volcanic plumes ejecting ice and vapour into space. It was conjectured that hydrothermal activity in the core of the moon was powered by tidal dissipation produced by the strong gravitational field of Saturn. Studies of the plume in a close fly-by by Cassini revealed the present of simple organic molecules mostly below 50 Atomic Mass Units (AMUs). In a new study just published in Nature, Frank Postberg et al report the observation of emitted ice grains containing organic material with molecular mass above 200 AMU, complex macromolecular organic matter.
Plumes From Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Hint That It Could Support Life. Source: CreditNASA/JPL-Caltech, via Space Science Institute
Two mass spectrometers onboard Cassini, the Cosmic Dust Analyser and the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer performed compositional in-situ measurements of material emerging from the surface of Enceladus, both within the plume and Saturn’s E-ring. the E-ring has been formed by ice grains escaping the moon’s gravity.
The organic fragments, of up to 200 units of molecular mass, are created as the ice grains hit the dust-analysing instrument on Cassini at speeds of about 30 000 kilometres per hour, but the researchers believe that, prior to the collision, the grains contain the original, even larger molecules, which could have molecular weights of thousands of atomic mass units.
Scientists calculate molecular mass, or weight, as the sum of weights of individual atoms contained in the molecule. Previously, Cassini had only detected lightweight organic molecules at Enceladus that were much smaller than the most recently found fragments.
Such large molecules can only be created by complex chemical processes – including those related to life. Alternatively, they could come from primordial material as found in some meteorites or, more likely, be generated by hydrothermal activity.
The authors suggest the presence of a refractory organic rich film at the top of the oceanic water table as the most plausible way to generate the observed grains. They suggest that this insoluble organic layer would exist at the top of the water layer likely at the base and within the large cracks evident on the surface of the moon.
This discovery is the first ever detection of complex organics on an extraterrestrial body. In an European space Agency press release, Frank Postberg commented:
“It is the first ever detection of complex organics coming from an extraterrestrial water-world. We found large molecular fragments that show structures typical for very complex organic molecules. These huge molecules contain a complex network often built from hundreds of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and likely nitrogen that form ring-shaped and chain-like substructures.”
“In my opinion the fragments we found are of hydrothermal origin, having been processed inside the hydrothermally active core of Enceladus: in the high pressures and warm temperatures we expect there, it is possible that complex organic molecules can arise,” says Frank.
Be very happy – it happened in your lifetime.
Macromolecular organic compounds from the depths of Enceladus
Frank Postberg, Nozair Khawaja, Bernd Abel, Gael Choblet, Christopher R. Glein, Murthy S. Gudipati, Bryana L. Henderson, Hsiang-Wen Hsu, Sascha Kempf, Fabian Klenner, Georg Moragas-Klostermeyer, Brian Magee, Lenz Nölle, Mark Perry, René Reviol, Jürgen Schmidt, Ralf Srama, Ferdinand Stolz, Gabriel Tobie, Mario Trieloff & J. Hunter Waite
Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbours a global water ocean1, which lies under an ice crust and above a rocky core2. Through warm cracks in the crust3 a cryo-volcanic plume ejects ice grains and vapour into space4,5,6,7 that contain materials originating from the ocean8,9. Hydrothermal activity is suspected to occur deep inside the porous core10,11,12, powered by tidal dissipation13. So far, only simple organic compounds with molecular masses mostly below 50 atomic mass units have been observed in plume material6,14,15. Here we report observations of emitted ice grains containing concentrated and complex macromolecular organic material with molecular masses above 200 atomic mass units. The data constrain the macromolecular structure of organics detected in the ice grains and suggest the presence of a thin organic-rich film on top of the oceanic water table, where organic nucleation cores generated by the bursting of bubbles allow the probing of Enceladus’ organic inventory in enhanced concentrations.
Remarkably the ESA Swarm satellite constellation data has yielded evidence of a very weak but not unsurprising magnetic field generated by the movement of planetary scale oceanic currents. The signal strength is however exceedingly weak and being 20,000 times less than the lithospheric signature took four years of data to elucidate.
When salty ocean water flows through Earth’s magnetic field, an electric current is generated, and this, in turn, induces a magnetic signal. However, the field generated by tides is tiny and extremely difficult to measure – but Swarm has done just this in remarkable detail. (see the above video).
Nils Olsen, from the Technical University of Denmark, said, “We have used Swarm to measure the magnetic signals of tides from the ocean surface to the seabed, which gives us a truly global picture of how the ocean flows at all depths – and this is new.
“Since oceans absorb heat from the air, tracking how this heat is being distributed and stored, particularly at depth, is important for understanding our changing climate.
“In addition, because this tidal magnetic signal also induces a weak magnetic response deep under the seabed, these results will be used to learn more about the electrical properties of Earth’s lithosphere and upper mantle.”
|Olsen, N., D. Ravat, C. C. Finlay, and L. K. Kother
LCS-1: A high-resolution global model of the lithospheric magnetic field derived from CHAMP and Swarm satellite observations, Geophys. J. Int., 211, 1461–1477, doi:10.1093/gji/ggx381 2017
ESA has just released the most detail magnetic data on the lithosphere from its Swarm three satellite constellation. Launched on 22 November 2013, Swarm is the fourth in a series of pioneering Earth Explorer research missions, following on from GOCE, SMOS and CryoSat. Is also ESA’s first constellation of satellites to advance our understanding of how Earth works.
This is the most detailed map ever of the tiny magnetic signals generated by Earth’s lithosphere. The map, a video of which is seen here. The data is being used to understand more about Earth’s geological history, is thanks to four years’ of measurements from ESA’s trio of Swarm satellites, historical data from the German CHAMP satellite and observations from ships and aircraft.
Erwan Thebault from the University of Nantes in France said, “This is the highest resolution model of the lithospheric magnetic field ever produced. “With a scale of 250 km, we can see structures in the crust like never before. And, we have gained even finer detail in some parts of the crust, such as beneath Australia, where measurements from aircraft have mapped at resolution of 50 km.
“This combined use of satellite and near-surface measurements gives us a new understanding of the crust beneath our feet, and will be of enormous value to science.”
Most of Earth’s magnetic field is generated deep within the outer core by an ocean of superheated, swirling liquid iron, but there are also much weaker sources of magnetism. The Swarm constellation has been used to yield some discoveries about these more elusive signals, such as that from Earth’s lithosphere. A small fraction of the magnetic field comes from magnetised rocks in the upper lithosphere, which includes Earth’s rigid crust and upper mantle. This lithospheric magnetic field is very weak and therefore difficult to detect from space. As new oceanic crust is created through volcanic activity, iron-rich minerals in the upwelling magma are oriented to magnetic north at the time and solidified as the magma cools. Since magnetic poles flip back and forth over time, the solidified magma due to mantle upwelling at mid-oceanic ridges forms magnetic ‘stripes’ on the seafloor which provide a record of Earth’s magnetic history. These magnetic imprints on the ocean floor can be used as a sort of time machine, allowing past field changes to be reconstructed and showing the movement of tectonic plates from hundreds of million years ago until the present day.
I am planning a trek up Java’s highest (and active) volcano, Mt Semeru at 3,676m ASL. The trek will start in Jakarta with flights to Malang and then vehicles to the start of the trek. Schedule:
- Arrive Jakarat May 6th
- Depart to Malang May 7th
- Return to Malang and Jakarta May11th.
Cost including all accomodation from 6th through the 11th inclusive, including 2 nights in Jakarta and two dinners which will include presentations from local geologists, transfers, all meals (dedicated camp cook) and personal porter. A data package on the geology and volcanology of East Java will be provided in paper and GIS formats prior to departure. Cost includes . COST: US$1,100
This is a demanding trek, no climbing skills required however. Please message us in the event that you wish to participate. Does not include travel/medical insurance coverage. You will be required to show proof of coverage and execute a waiver before participation.
The recent discovery of two thermogenic oil seeps 70 km apart onshore Jamaica, suggests that a previously unrecognised hydrocarbon system may well be present.
Windsor Gas Seep
A natural gas seep at St Ann, Windsor, in northern Jamaica is a well-known tourist attraction and money earner for locals, offering amongst other things, its healing properties (hey, whatever does it for you man!). These recent discoveries are the first reported oil seeps.
Chris Machette-Downes visited the seep and reported:
The seep is of dry gas and is guarded enthusiastically by a local Rastafarian. My attempts to sample the gas in 2006 were met with some resistance as using a gas syringes in the sacred spring was considered offensive until some Jamaican dollars were presented. The gas proved to be very dry, almost pure Methane, but with an isotopic signature that suggests that it is thermogenic in origin. The origin is unknown, but a Cretaceous or older source is indicated. The St Ann’s Great River Inlier is one of the 26 Cretaceous inliers that occur on the Island in an otherwise Tertiary setting.
Jamaica Oil and Gas Potential
The JEBCO Alliance in 2004 undertook a multiclient study and reported that of the 11 wells drilled in Jamaica, all but one encountered oil and gas shows. They identified three petroleum systems in the data with the most important being a middle Eocene pro-delat source. In the offshore Walton #1 well the middle Eocene occupied a 700 metre interval. JEBCO defined reservoir objectives within the middle Eocene, delta-associated sequence, reef sequences and detrital products. Assuming a 50% fill of the mapped carbonate targets would imply potential for 2.8 BBO or 10.6 Tcf.
The Windsor #1 well was drilled in northern Jamaica near the St Ann gas seep and encountered oils similar to others in the Caribbean Region.
Remarkably, the three broad elements that comprise the essence of the Caribbean plate (the Lower Nicaraguan Rise, or Siuna Terrane; the Upper Nicaraguan Rise, or Chortis; and part of the Great Caribbean Arc or northern periphery of the Caribbean plate or platelets) can also be identified though petroleum geochemistry. Windsor #1 well in the north of the island was drilled in a terrain that has strong affinities with the geology of the Yucatan in Mexico. If one compares the oil fingerprint, using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and stable isotope ratio distributions, there is a near identical match with the Belmopan oil found in Belize, 1,000 km to the west. The match is so close that it is as if the Belmopan field has been cut in two, with one portion perhaps residing on the North Coast of Jamaica in what is called the North Coast Block. Chris Machette-Downes
Seep Sampling Program and Results
CGG GeoConsulting and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) have announced the discovery of two independent live oil seeps from different parts of the island of Jamaica. This significant find marks the first documented occurrence of ‘live’, or flowing, oil from onshore Jamaica and will be of particular interest to oil explorationists focused on Central America and the Caribbean.
The oil seeps were found during fieldwork for a recently completed multi-client Robertson Study (Red Book) of the petroleum potential of on- and offshore Jamaica entitled ‘Petroleum Geological Evaluation of Jamaica’ made jointly by CGG GeoConsulting and PCJ. Subsequent detailed geochemical analyses confirmed the oil seeps originate from two separate Cretaceous source rocks. These results are included within the study, which gives a detailed account of the petroleum geology of this frontier region of the Caribbean. It comprises over 1,300 new geochemical, biostratigraphic and sedimentological analyses of over 800 individual outcrop, well, corehole and seep samples collected from Jamaica.
Jamaica and its offshore basins remain relatively underexplored. Oil or gas shows have been seen in ten of the eleven exploration wells drilled to date. The discovery of these seeps indicates the presence of working petroleum systems on the island that are generating and expelling liquid hydrocarbons to the surface. The Robertson Study offers a valuable tool for oil explorationists to quickly become familiar with the geology of Jamaica and is available for purchase from CGG.
Sophie Zurquiyah, Senior Executive Vice President, Geology, Geophysics & Reservoir, CGG, said: “This exciting discovery of live oil onshore Jamaica, based on our joint study with PCJ, builds a strong case for the island as an attractive region for future oil exploration within the Caribbean. The insights and promising outcome of the study demonstrate the value that CGG’s broad geoscience expertise combined with the integration of field geology, laboratory analyses and seismic interpretation can bring for high-grading frontier regions for future oil exploration.”
Morgan Stanley report today that they expect lithium carbonate prices to drop from the current level of US$ 13,375/t to US$ 7,030/t by 2020. This is far lower than the consensus view after lithium prices surged 100% in the last 2 years.
Substantial supply increases are driving their forecast, with Morgan Stanley reporting that the largest producers in Chile are planning on adding 500,000 tonnes per year in new mine supply by 2025. This supply would swamp the anticipated growth in demand from battery production. Indeed Morgan Stanley predict that the lithium market will go into surplus in 2019… and stay there.
The firm has downgraded two of the largest producers, Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) and Sociedad Quimica y Minera S.A. (SQM: NYSE SQM) which are planning to bring an additional 200,000 tonnes of lithium on stream by 2025. This will cement the position of Chile as the largest global producer with a >30% share.
Most of the lithium hopefuls listed on western stock-exchanges have used lithium carbonate prices in the range of US$11,000 and 13,500/t in economic studies and the majority of these projects would struggle if prices were to tumble. Given the rush to lithium of recent times and the nature of commodity markets we suspect that Morgan Stanley are likely correct. Even a dramatic increase in market penetration for electric cars (which now seems increasingly unlikely given the growing trend away from government subsidies) would do little to change the supply demand dynamic in the coming few years unless the fall in price is sufficiently steep as to stop or delay some of the larger projects now being contemplated. Now that is always a possibility.
An exception may be spodumene producers like Pilbara Minerals Limited (ASX: PLS) which showed a >50% return on investment in a planned expansion at a spodumene price of US$550/t, a 60% discount to the current spot.