From Geology to Machine Reading: New Perspectives on a UK Black Shale Giant

Series Name Doctoral College Week
Speaker Dr Joe Emmings, College of Science and Engineering
Type Lectures & Talks
When 25 Feb 2020, 05:00PM - 07:00PM
Venue Film Theatre, Ground Floor, Attenborough Seminar Block University of Leicester University Road Leicester LE1 7RH
Open To Public
Ticket Price Free
For Bookings Contact Kelly McCormack

We welcome the public audience to join us for our new series of the Doctoral Inaugural Lectures!
About this Event
These Inaugural Lectures are where the very best of our research degree graduates get the chance to return and share their work and their passion for research with the University and the public.

Lecture will run from 17:00-18:00 followed with a reception.

Free entry but booking essential!

See you there :)

Any dietary requirements please email

Dr Joe Emmings, College of Science and Engineering

From Geology to Machine Reading: New Perspectives on a UK Black Shale Giant

Black shale, a type of sedimentary rock, plays a key role in many geological resource systems, including hydrocarbons (oil and gas) and mineral deposits. The Bowland Shale, deposited 330 million years ago during the Carboniferous Period, is a highly metalliferous, organic-rich black shale. It is important primarily because it is a potential unconventional hydrocarbon resource in the UK, and because it could help us to understand mineralisation processes, such as lead-zinc deposits in Ireland.

This lecture will summarise new geological perspectives on the Bowland Shale generated by research at the University of Leicester and the British Geological Survey. The Bowland Shale was deposited in a relatively shallow, epicontinental seaway and a low-oxygen seabed environment. There are no direct modern analogues for this setting. Therefore we will first explore geological observations in order to develop an understanding of sedimentary and geochemical reduction and oxidation (‘redox’) processes through the Bowland Shale. For the first time, we identify ‘redox oscillation’ conditions, defining a sub-class of black shales. This is key to understanding the Bowland Shale as a resource.

We will explore the role of biology, including a rare candidate record of chemosynthetic microbial mats. This type of mat utilises compressed geochemical redox gradients at seabed, and is important in terms of sulphur and carbon cycling. Finally, we will consider the Bowland Shale in a holistic and global perspective, including results from the high-throughput computing GeoDeepDive library and machine reading system, in order to develop a new record of black shales through geological time.

In 2014, Joe secured a NERC-funded PhD studentship hosted by the University of Leicester and British Geological Survey, under the supervision of Prof. Sarah Davies and Prof. Gawen Jenkin. Following completion of his PhD in 2018, Joe is now a post-doctoral research associate in geochemistry and decarbonisation at the British Geological Survey, in the Centre for Environmental Geochemistry. His research continues to apply a broad suite of organic and inorganic geochemical techniques in order to understand the first-order controls on the distribution of resources associated with marine anoxia and black shales. He is also interested in the role of the subsurface in decarbonisation, and the application of big data techniques in the geosciences.

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