Franek Hasiuk, Department of Geological and Atm Sciences

Franek Hasiuk Research Themes

Academically Interesting, Industry Relevent!


Carbonate Geochemistry

    Mg/Ca Paleothermometry in Foraminifera. Over the past decade, the Mg/Ca ratio of foraminifera has become an increasingly popular method of calculating paleotemperatures and, when coupled with δ18O measurements, to estimate the history of continental ice volume. However, this methodhas not been rigorously defined to account for coupled variation in seawater temperature and Mg/Ca. For this a “Foram Farm” is needed where foraminifera could be grown under controlled conditions that would yield the calibrations necessary for more accurate deep-time paleotemperature trends, which could then be widely used by the scientific community. With this calibration and published foraminiferal Mg/Ca data, it would be possible to calculate a continuous paleotemperature trend from the Cretaceous greenhouse to the Cenozoic icehouse to better understand the timing and thresholds of climate change. The Mg/Ca paleothermometer could also be calibrated in other organisms for use in rocks that were deposited prior to the evolution of calcifying foraminifera in the Jurassic. Clumped isotopes, a novel paleotemperature method that does not require knowledge of seawater chemistry, could also be tested against farm-raised (possibly corn-fed) forams.

    Secular Variation in Seawater Chemistry. The primary mineralogy of marine carbonates has varied through the Phanerozoic between times of aragonite and magnesium-rich calcite production (“aragonite seas”) and times of magnesium-poor calcite production (“calcite seas”). It is very important to understand the history of this variation in order to prospect for hydrocarbons in carbonate rocks because the relative abundance of these minerals at deposition is a primary control on evolution of the porosity and permeability after deposition. This mineralogical variation is generally thought to be controlled by seawater Mg/Ca, which is often thought to be a function of seafloor spreading rate. I want to test this hypothesis by producing high-resolution records of ocean Mg/Ca at transitions between calcite and aragonite seas (such as during the Pennsylvanian or the Paleogene) to ascertain whether the duration and character of these transitions could be driven by changing sea-floor spreading rates. Such high-resolution records of oceanic Mg/Ca from marine calcite would also test the recent hypothesis that the residence time of Mg and Ca in the ocean is much shorter than the often-cited 106-107 years. Also, despite the modern ocean being labeled an aragonite sea, not all of its volume is conducive to aragonite precipitation. I plan to map the extent of the modern aragonite sea based on physicochemical controls on aragonite precipitation and diagenesis. This would increase our ability to predict aragonitic and calcitic sediment accumulation globally through geologic time with implications for carbon and trace element cycling in the oceans and for the susceptibility of carbonates to diagenesis.

Carbonate Reservoirs

    Fine-Grained Carbonate Reservoirs.To effectively develop new hydrocarbon accumulations and to squeeze every possible molecule out of more mature fields, it has become increasingly important to accurately understand fine-grained carbonate reservoir rocks. Micrite, short for microcrystalline calcite, is a major component of these rocks. I want to better understand how micrites vary in the geologic record and how its precipitation and diagenesis have been affected by changing seawater chemistry. I also want to characterize how the pore systems in micrites vary with respect to coarser carbonate pore systems and how this might affect the flow of fluids like water and oil. In addition, with the current surge in shale gas and tight oil exploration (e.g. Mississippi Lime, Eagle Ford, etc), increasing our understanding of the complex deposition and diagenesis of carbonate-rich mudrocks could provide significant uplift to industry activities. These activities would be pursued in concert with industry partners who might be working “microporous” plays.

    Bituminous Reservoir Cements.The distribution of bituminous cement in hydrocarbon reservoirs can be a major impediment to reservoir flow and can affect resource assessments and field development plans. While the mechanisms by which it forms are generally known, how it accumulates within the pore system of a reservoir remains poorly understood. Do different bitumen generating processes result in different types of bituminous cements or different distributions? How are these expressed in wireline logs? What are the diagenetic environments in which bitumen can be modified? I want to test these ideas through outcrop work (in Midcontinent US and elsewhere) in both limestones and sandstones and apply what we know of the physics of bitumen flow and accumulation (perhaps through collaboration with the asphalt industry). I would like to test these concepts with an industry partner who is actively working a bituminous reservoir.


    It is becoming increasingly difficult for the student (or even the seasoned researcher) to keep up with the vast volumes of new primary literature being generated each year. I want to revolutionize this process for carbonate geologists (at least at first) by building an expert database and research tool for exploring carbonate imagery (photomicrographs, SEM imagery, maps) as well as carbonate petrophysical and geochemical data collected from the most relevant scholarly literature.

    CO3DB would not only allow the researcher to instantly identify all the articles including, for example, SEM images from Triassic dolomites, but with more advanced programming could rescale photomicrographs to uniform scale, plot them on the same screen side by side, and allow for morphometric analysis. It could also convert geochemical data published in different units on the fly to a uniform scale of the researcher’s choosing. The final key to this project would be a functionality for producing publication-ready figures so researchers could, with confidence and accuracy, compare their data or images against the full body of the “literature” and reduce the time to produce manuscripts.An expert database and research tool to digitally explore and analyze petrographic, petrophysical, and geochemical data from carbonate rocks and materials.

Rock Literacy

    One of the biggest hurdles for new geoscientists is the process of learning how to describe and interpret rocks. Working with departmental expertise in geoscience education, I want to collaborate with educators who specialize in literacy and numeracy to test different ways to teach rock literacy among various populations (students, stone masons, engineers, etc) and in various environments (classroom, field, jobsites, etc). Because so little rock is usually recovered from the subsurface during development of aquifers and hydrocarbon reservoirs, it is also very important to find the best ways for students to learn how to accurately integrate geochemical, geophysical, and petrophysical data with traditional rock descriptions and interpretations.

    During this survey on how people think and learn about rocks, I also want to study the assumptions and biases humans impart during the collection and analysis of geological data; how we estimate geological quantities; and how these biases have changed over time and with developments in technology. This is important because these types of human factors can weigh greatly on the economic calculations carried out in industry, like risking an exploration prospect or assessing the in-place volumes of hydrocarbons in a reservoir.