Tag Archive for: Great Salt Lake

ENERGY & MINERALS

Microbialites

Microbialites are organic sedimentary lake or marine deposits that can indicate distinctive types of oil potential and reservoirs. Microbialites take several forms: thinly layered (stromatolites), clotted (thrombolites), spherical (oncolites), and precipitated from mineral-rich springs (tufa or travertine). The hypersaline environment of Utah’s Great Salt Lake is ideal for forming microbial mats, stromatolites, thrombolites, and other porous carbonate structures. Core samples from other areas in the state such as the Eocene-age Green River Formation display ancient examples of microbialites




Microbialites in Utah


Great Salt Lake is ideal for stromatolite formation and is home to some of the most extensive reefs of living stromatolites on Earth. The lake’s briny environment precludes organisms that would ordinarily graze or browse on nutritious stromatolites or burrow and bore into them. Additionally, a lack of animals minimizes stirring of sediments from the lake bed that would otherwise blanket stromatolites from sunlight. The absence of plants and scarcity of other algae on the lake floor also reduce competition for nutrients and space. They are most observable when lake level is near average elevation (4,200 feet) or lower and after planktonic algae have been grazed out by brine shrimp, making the water more transparent.

The lacustrine Eocene-age Green River Formation in the Uinta Basin, Utah, contains excellent examples of microbial carbonates—stromatolites, thrombolites, and grainstones—which can serve as analogues for highly productive nonmarine microbial reservoirs worldwide. The West Willow Creek field produces oil from a small microbial mound within the Green River Formation—the only such known field in the Uinta Basin. Microbialite heads often consist of stromatolitic crusts with thrombolitic internal characteristics. Oncolites are another significant component to the microbial system. The entire Skyline 16, Federal No. 15-24B from the West Willow Creek field, and other cores containing microbial carbonates, are available for examination at the Utah Core Research Center.


Antelope Island Flyover


The shallow waters of Bridger Bay, on the northwestern tip of Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, support extensive microbial carbonate formation, especially in the north-northeast portion of the bay near Egg Island. Lake levels in the fall of 2014 were near 60-year lows, giving unprecedented access to the microbial structures. Characterizing the microbialites of Bridger Bay can inform interpretations of similar deposits in the ancient rock record, including potential petroleum reservoirs.


Publications, Abstracts, and Presentations

Microbial Carbonate Reservoirs and Analogs from Utah
Thomas C. Chidsey, Jr, David E. Eby, Michael D. Vanden Berg, and Douglas A. Sprinkel
UGS Special Study 168

PDF Publication

Unexpected abundance and diversity of phototrophs in mats from morphologically variable microbialites in Great Salt Lake, Utah
Mert Kanik, Mason Munro-Ehrlich, Maria Clara Fernandes-Martins, Devon Payne, Kathryn Gianoulias, Lisa Keller, Alexander Kubacki, Melody R. Lindsay, Bonnie K. Baxter, Michael D. Vanden Berg, Daniel R. Colman, Eric S. Boyd

PDF Publication

Domes, Rings, Ridges, and Polygons: Characteristics of Microbialites from Utah’s Great Salt Lake
Michael D. Vanden Berg, The Sedimentary Record, March 2019

PDF Publication

Petrography and characterization of microbial carbonates and associated facies from modern Great Salt Lake and Uinta Basin’s Eocene Green River Formation in Utah, USA 
from Microbial Carbonates in Space and Time: Implications for Global Exploration and Production

Download Abstract

Characterization of Microbialites in Bridger Bay, Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, Utah
Michael D, Vanden Berg, Thomas C. Chidsey, Jr., Davis E. Eby, and Wayne Kelln
Presented at the International Limnogeology Congress 2015, June 15-19, 2015, Reno, NV.

Poster

Marine Microbial Carbonate Facies, Fabrics, and Petroleum Reservoirs in Utah
by David E. Eby, Thomas C. Chidsey, Jr., and Douglas A. Sprinkel
Presented at the Rocky Mountain/Cordilleran Section Meeting of Geological Society of America, May 18-20, 2014, Bozeman, MT.

Poster

Modern and Ancient Microbial Carbonates in Utah, U.S.A.: Examples from Great Salt Lake and the Uinta Basin’s Tertiary (Eocene) Green River Formation

by Thomas C. Chidsey, Jr., David E. Eby, Michael D. Vanden Berg
Presented at The Geological Society (London) Microbial Carbonates in Time and Space: Implications for Global Exploration and Production Symposium, June 19-20, 2013, London, England.

Poster

Microbial Carbonates in Cores from the Tertiary (Eocene) Green River Formation, Uinta Basin, Utah, U.S.A.: Analogues for Non-Marine Microbialite Oil Reservoirs Worldwide
by Michael D. Vanden Berg, David E. Eby, Thomas C. Chidsey, Jr., and Michael D. Laine
Presented at The Geological Society (London) Microbial Carbonates in Time and Space: Implications for Global Exploration and Production Symposium, June 19-20, 2013, London, England.

Poster

Microbial Carbonates from Core and Outcrop, Tertiary (Eocene) Green River Formation, Uinta Basin, Utah
by David E. Eby, Thomas C. Chidsey, Jr., Michael D. Vanden Berg, and Michael D. Laine
Presented at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Convention, April 22-25, 2012, Long Beach, CA.

Poster

Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island, Salt Lake County.
Photo by Adam Hiscock.

Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island, Salt Lake County.

ksl.com

If you ever take the long journey to visit what is arguably Utah’s most famous artwork, there are a few things it might be useful to take along for the ride:

An art historian to explain it.

A couple of city dwellers who have never seen it before.

A college student who heard about it in his humanities class.

And a camera-equipped drone to fly overhead.

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deseretnews.com

SALT LAKE CITY — Nestled amid the rocky shores of the Great Salt Lake’s Rozel Point, the Spiral Jetty is more than simply artwork; it’s a testament to the seemingly infinite wonders of nature.

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ksl.com

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers took note of the desolate beauty that surrounds the Spiral Jetty as they considered designating the artificial formation to be the official state work of art.

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Antelope Island, Salt Lake and Davis Counties
Photographer: Andy Cvar © 2017


Evening skies are reflected in Great Salt Lake south of Antelope Island. Otherworldly scenes of wide mudflats are exposed as lake level nears record low elevation.

In anticipation of tomorrow’s breaching of the railroad causeway which dissects Great Salt Lake, below is a Google Timelapse of the lake.

Great Salt Lake’s south arm elevation is currently at about 4192.4 feet, roughly 1 foot above its historic low of 4191.35 feet. The north arm is currently at about 4189.1. Typically near the beginning of December winter weather starts a rebound in lake levels. However, with tomorrow’s breaching of the causeway the two arms will mix, raising the north arm an estimated 18 inches and lowering the south arm an estimated 1 foot. Will the south arm drop to a new historic low?

fox13now.com

SALT LAKE CITY — The Great Salt Lake has hit yet another record low, according to new data.

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Tag Archive for: Great Salt Lake