Student Presentation Abstracts

Geoscience & Engineering

Muhammad Kettanah, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “Reservoir Quality, Diagenetic History and Provenance of the Late Triassic Sandstones of Wolfville Formation, Cambridge Cove, Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia”

The provenance of Triassic Wolfville Formation sandstones at Cambridge Cove, Bay of Fundy were investigated using petrography, heavy minerals, and microprobe analysis of tourmalines and garnets as provenance indicators. The study included grain size analysis, diagenesis, porosity, heavy mineral analysis and possible reservoir characteristics dependent on these properties. These fluvial sandstones are calcite cement-supported feldspathic litharenites to lithic felsarenites. The sandstones have a recycled orogenic provenance derived from metasedimentary and granitic rocks postdating collision and from the early stages of rifting. The Meguma, Horton and Windsor Groups, and the South Mountain Batholith, which were and still are, the dominant rock units in the area, are the main provenance of Wolfville Formation sediments. Minor contribution from Appalachian exposures north of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, cannot be excluded. However, the absence of volcanics in the studied sediments minimizes that possibility. The Wolfville Formation, which is overlain by the Blomidon Formation, has a limited exposure area relative to its wide subsurface extension beneath the Bay of Fundy. In this area, it is underlain by the Horton Bluff Formation in the Minas Basin area, and by the Meguma and/or Avalon Terranes in the southwestern parts of the region. Wolfville sandstones have porosities ranging from 2.6 to 16.6% (averaging 6%) and could act beneath the Bay of Fundy as moderately good reservoir rocks. Hydrocarbon charge could occur where these sandstones overlie possible potential source rocks; e.g., the Carboniferous organic-rich lacustrine shales of Horton Bluff Formation, or other shales within the Mesozoic succession itself.

Nick Nickerson and David Risk, Saint Francis Xavier University

Presentation Abstract: “Carbon Capture and Storage Monitoring Technology Development at StFX”

This poster describes two ongoing technology R&D projects related to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), with applications in continuous surface CO2 Measurement, Monitoring and storage Verification (MMV). These technologies would represent a critical subcomponent of a larger CCS technology package, to verify storage integrity and mitigate serious potential health and safety concerns.  The International Energy Agency categorizes monitoring as one of the highest priority R&D areas for CCS.  NRCan also recognizes improvements in monitoring as one of the key strategies to “accelerate the realization of near-term opportunities for CCS”, to improve practices and ensure safety and storage integrity.  Nova Scotia is in the beginning of its first CCS feasibility study, and given the harshness of our climate and inevitable challenges for existing monitoring instruments, innovative monitoring technologies will likely play a key role in MMV locally, helping to make CCS feasible and safe.  Our first technology consists of a probe used to determine soil CO2 emission rates. It is suitable for unattended deployments where it monitors CO2 emissions continuously, and with high reliability.  A second technology under development relates to isotopic tracing, a technique by which injected CO2 is “fingerprinted” and can be chemically distinguished from background soil/atmospheric CO2 at the surface.  Our work is helping to determine sources of “noise” in this chemical signal that could otherwise impair application of this tracer technique.

Leslie Eliuk, Dalhousie University Earth Sciences

Presentation Abstract: “Carbonate and Siliciclastic Sequence Stratigraphy- examples from the Late Jurassic Abenaki limestone and West Venture deltaic beds, offshore Nova Scotia, Canada”

Relative to their occurrence in thick siliciclastic sections, thin carbonates show utility as sensitive indicators of the surrounding sand and shale sedimentation. When composed of in situ framebuilders (microbial and skeletal) as demonstrated by inter-growth position, associated submarine cements and marine geopetals, the carbonates are particularly helpful for environmental inferences. Within the Sable Island paleodelta, cores in Penobscot L-30 and West Venture C-62 show both dark colors and limited biotic diversity with microbial textures.  The C-62 cores are particularly interesting because they give an independent check on the shelf margin delta model and sequence stratigraphic scenario presented for the Venture gas field by Cummings and Arnott (2005).  Limestone changes from a biotically depauperate marl up into a microbial mud mound then an argillaceous sponge reef mound with some stromatoporoids and possible red algae in less than 7 meters reflect a forced regression and falling sea level.  This closely supports the published deltaic sequence stratigraphy as long as it is appreciated that their “condensed limestone facies” is actually a distal composite recording of changes in sea levels, nutrient supply and ultimately sediment type that replaces the carbonate as the delta progrades.  As well, the maximum flooding surface is during the microbial mound stage below the abrupt lithologic change across a pyritized hardground upward into laminated black shale.  This placement reflects problematic differences in sequence stratigraphic concepts as applied to carbonates versus siliciclastics. Relative to understanding the Abenaki platform, C-62 core gives insights into the relationships seen only in cuttings and sidewall cores in Queensland M-88 which drilled the slope and basin immediately in front of the Abenaki Deep Panuke gas field.  M-88 and C-62 also hold some promise to be potential links for correlating and dating the massive carbonates and the deltaic siliciclastics.

Shawn Goss, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “Sequence stratigraphic evolution of the Demerara Rise, Suriname, South America- transition from a rifted to passive margin, analogue to the Scotian slope?”

The Demerara Rise is part of the continental margin north of Suriname and French Guyana and conjugate to the Guinea Plateau of West Africa. Late-stage Atlantic rifting began in the Mid to Late Cretaceous in this area, resulting in opening of a gateway between the North and South Atlantic Oceans. This setting is a possible analog to the Jurassic-Cretaceous Scotian margin, but unaffected by Tertiary and Quaternary canyon cutting events that disrupt the stratigraphy along the Scotian margin. Understanding sealevel forcing functions, sediment pathways and depositional patterns are expected to provide exploration models in passive margin shelf to slope delivery regions.  2D and recently acquired 3D seismic reflection data allow for development of a Cenozoic sequence stratigraphic framework of the outer portion of the shelf and uppermost slope along this part of the Suriname margin.  Following initial synrift sedimentation, mid to late Cretaceous black shale deposition dominates.  This unit is followed by Paleocene and Eocene chalk and Neogene to Recent continental margin clastics.  Cenozoic continental shelf progradation along the Suriname margin was largely forced by sea level fluctuation and gradual margin subsidence.  Despite this passive margin setting with rare modern seismicity, shallow faulting and mass-transport deposition appear common and even dominate the upper slope sedimentary section.  This observation is analogous to the Scotian margin, demonstrating that sediment mass transport processes are fundamental sediment delivery mechanisms along passive continental margins.

Virginia Brake, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “Oligocene canyon and fan development on the eastern Scotian Slope”

The eastern Scotian margin is broadly characterised by Cenozoic progradation, although the modern seafloor is heavily incised by canyons, valleys and gullies. These canyons provide conduits for offshelf sediment transport, slope by-pass and deposition on the continental rise and abyssal plain during periods of low relative sea level.  Investigation of the Stonehouse 3D seismic cube, spanning modern outer shelf and upper slope terrain on the eastern Scotian Slope, affords an opportunity to study modern and buried seafloor morphologies and stratigraphy.  Sequence stratigraphic concepts were applied to the Neogene section, of the depth-migrated 3D data set where the distribution and character of seismic sequences and their bounding unconformities are highly variable.  Several widespread erosive surfaces were mapped and compared to canyons on the present-day seafloor.  There appears to be episodic canyon incision throughout the Cenozoic.  As with the modern surface, these canyons likely are fundamental to slope sedimentary processes and sediment delivery mechanisms.  Canyon systems evolved through the Neogene to Present by multiple phase of cut-and-fill; new systems often re-occupying old.  Canyon formation requires significant removal of slope material to the deep ocean floor, following which these canyons act as sediment pathways.  A particularly widespread surface with extensive canyon morphology that is presumably Oligocene in age, exhibits morphology potentially analogous with the modern Sable Gully canyon system.   In this case, the Gully “drains” much of the central and eastern Scotian Shelf through a system of feeder channels and valleys, particularly at low-stands.  The implications of repeated canyon formation on the Scotian Slope imply that the residence period of sediments on the slope is geologically short; erosion and slope by-pass deliver sediment to the continental rise and abyssal plain.

Christopher Phillips and Duncan McIlroy, Memorial University

Presentation Abstract: “Ichnofossils within deep-water environments and their significance for petroleum exploration”

The deep-marine, comprising approximately 40% of the Earth’s surface, is perhaps the single most widespread depositional environment. This vast area is represented by a single ichnofacies, the Nereites ichnofacies, one of Seilacher’s depth-dependent ichnofacies, and the one responsible for most of the character of deep-marine sediments.

Cored material from the Scotian Margin includes deep-water palaeoenvironments rich in ichnological assemblages. These largely quiescent environments of fine-grained sediments are grazed by mobile deposit feeders producing shallow tier ichnofossils. Punctuating the finer-grained material are episodic, high-energy event beds. Deposited material is coarser and can produce a variety of facies architectural elements. Such events change the hydrodynamic regime and depositional environment of the sea floor, bringing within them oxygenated sediments. This also provides the opportunity for a radically different assemblage of benthic organisms, as evinced by the ichnological assemblage and ichnofabrics seen. Post-turbidite assemblages of ichnofossils commonly include vertically-orientated dwelling and feeding burrows comprising the Skolithos ichnofacies. This differs dramatically from the pre-turbidite Nereites ichnofacies.

Ichnofossils and their resultant ichnofabrics have many applications. Ichnofossils document the response of benthic organisms to prevailing environmental and depositional conditions. To this end they are constructive to petroleum geologists in: 1) the identification of key stratal surfaces, usually omission surfaces; 2) identification of stressed conditions on the sea floor and 3) interpreting palaeoenvironments both in outcrop and in core.
The importance of deep-water and turbidite ichnology in the palaeoenvironmental analysis of the deep-marine realm is being increasingly recognised. This is especially evident among petroleum geologists who are using ichnology in a key role to understand the textural change that bioturbation (on all scales) brings to the sedimentary fabric and how this affects reservoir properties. Any physical modification of the sediment made during an animal’s life (and any chemical modification made during or after the animal’s life due to diagenesis) can have profound effects on the flow of hydrocarbons through the reservoir. Turbidites drilled from offshore Nova Scotia provide an opportunity to study the effects of bioturbation on reservoir quality and to case-study the utility and application of ichnofossils in core data.

Funding for this project is provided from NSERC/ PRAC/ PPSC/CRD.

Omid Aghaei, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “AVO attribute calculation and comparison with real seismic data in the Scotian margin”

In order to improve the success rate of future exploration on the Scotian slope, it is important to investigate if seismic reflection data can be used in this region to determine rock properties and select productive drill targets. Our approach is to re-analyze seismic data at existing borehole locations, using well logs for ground truth of the seismic results. In this poster, we will present preliminary results for the Torbrook C-15 well, drilled by EnCana Corp. adjacent to the Mohican Channel in a water depth of 1675 m and logged over the interval 2657-3600 m. The drilling target was a strong seismic bright spot that was imaged on a 3-D seismic data cube at a target depth of ~3.5 s two-way traveltime in Tertiary sediment. Siltstone layers with velocities reduced by ~100-200 m/s were encountered within the uniform shale over depths of 2865-2895 m, which correspond to the high amplitude reflection horizon; but no significant fluid or gas was found.

Using available long offset (9 km) GXT NovaSpan Line5300 2D seismic data and EnCana_C15 well logs, we calculate AVO (amplitude variation with offset) response of the seismic data at the well location to investigate the observed anomaly in detail. The calculated attributes consist of AVO gradient and intercept followed by cross plotting and estimating fluid factor attributes. Reflection seismic data was processed in an amplitude preserving mode prior to the AVO analysis. These processes include amplitude recovery, surface consistent deconvolution and normal moveout correction of common midpoint gathers. Using the calculated attributes we aim to identify AVO signature characteristic of sediment formations in the Nova Scotia region. We also plan to estimate the probability for the measured AVO responses in terms of the presence (or absence) of different fluids.

Eric Negulic, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “Thermal Modelling of the Central Scotian Slope: The Effects of Salt Diapirs on Heat-flow”

The Scotian Slope has undergone significant deformation due to differential loading above the thick (~2 km) Early Jurassic Argo salt. This deformation has resulted in the growth of numerous large salt diapirs and canopies. Salt has a thermal conductivity up to three times that of most sedimentary rocks and thus salt diapirs act as low resistance thermal conduits transporting heat upwards, resulting in dramatic surface heat-flow variations. Unlike the Scotian shelf, whose heat flow is well sampled by boreholes, only a few older and relatively poorly-constrained heat-flow measurements have been taken on the Scotian slope. Understanding the salt distribution and associated heat-flow variations is important as local heat-flow anomalies can have implications for hydrocarbon maturation. Our goal was three fold:

  • Interpret the locations and extent of salt diapirs in the central Scotian Slope from available seismic data;
  • Model the heat-flow in the study area bounded by four seismic lines;
  • Select regions for future heat-flow measurements to be taken in July, 2008.

Three 2D seismic lines from the GXT NovaSpan survey and one 2D Lithoprobe line were interpreted including picks of stratigraphic boundaries and outlines of all salt bodies. A 4D thermal model was created based on the seismic interpretations using PetroMod software to predict the regional heat-flow trends and the local effects of salt diapirs on heat-flow in the study area. From this model locations for future heat-flow measurements were selected to be taken on a field program in July 2008.

Cody MacDonald, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “Salt tectonics 4D analogue modelling of the north-central Scotia margin”

The post-rift evolution of the Sable, Abenaki and Laurentian sub-basins and their deepwater extensions at the north-central Scotian Margin was primarily controlled by the salt-basin geometries, original salt thicknesses, salt tectonics and sediment progradation during the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous. Understanding the role these laterally variable basin geometries and depositional systems had on salt mobilization and tectonics is critical for unraveling the complex deepwater stratigraphic framework of the Scotian deepwater slope and basin.

The Salt Dynamics Group integrates seismic interpretation with innovative analogue experiments to gain insight into the mechanics of thin-skinned salt tectonics and stratigraphy of the north-central Scotian basin. Seismic reflection and well data are comprised of the GXT NovaSPAN lines and public domain data. These data constrain the experiment setup, e.g. salt basin morphology, initial salt thickness, and sedimentation rates and patterns. Interpretation of seismic reflection data reveals that the salt basin morphology varies considerably along the margin. The Laurentian salt basin was formed by a set of asymmetric syn-rift half-grabens. The central Abenaki salt basin consists of a confined proximal rift graben separated from the wide and considerably deeper Sable riftbasin by a basement horst block. Southwest of Sable Island the basement high is absent and the salt basin is characterized by a small proximal half graben landward of the Sable sub-basin which was formed by a wide asymmetric rift graben. Variable salt thickness due to the complex rift morphology combined with asymmetric sediment input from the early Jurassic Laurentian fan and Cretaceous Sable delta has resulted in distinct structural salt domains and salt-controlled depocenters. The location and timing of major salt structures and allochthoneous salt nappe/canopy systems were controlled by salt basin morphology and sediment progradation. Major sediment influx triggered initial salt mobilization in the Laurentian area during the early Jurassic followed by salt nappe extrusion in late Jurassic. Southward and basinward directed sediment progradation and salt mobilization together with the formation of the Sable delta in the Early Cretaceous caused a diachronous and southward younging of salt-sediment systems and extrusion of allochthoneous salt nappes and canopies in the deepwater basin.

Using experimentally constrained salt tectonics concepts to improve seismic interpretation and to understand the uniqueness of the Scotian margin salt tectonics will positively impact hydrocarbon exploration that targets salt-controlled depocenters and basins formed by very high sedimentation rates, and thus potentially sand-prone zones and structures.

Zaman Shamsuzzaman, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “Optimization, Economic and Risk Analysis of Geologic CO2 sequestration – a Case Study”

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is considered one of the major factors of global climate change. Due to drastic increase in use of energy made an unbalance in atmospheric carbon reserve that is otherwise necessary for the very existence of life. Geological sequestration is a viable option to mitigate atmospheric CO2 and depleted petroleum reservoirs are natural candidates for the same. In this study, feasibility, optimization of operation, economic and risk analysis of CO2 sequestration is proposed for an off-shore NS gas field. Monitoring of CO2 movement is critical and measures are proposed. Commercial software is used and customized for this study.

Elsadig Abdallah, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “Strategy for the Management and Removal of Nanoparticles from Drilling Waste”

Over the years, there has been an increasing challenges associated with crude oil extraction process, including drilling waste handling. One approach to improve oil recovery is to utilize superior drilling fluids. Drilling fluids help to prevent blowouts and wellbore cavings by creating hydrostatic pressure that limits formation fluids from entering well prematurely. The early drilling fluids were mainly water based and oil based emulsions with additives that increase density, enhance dispersion and modify viscosity, and minimize corrosion.  Moreover, these fluids must also withstand the functional drilling requirements of heat transfer at high pressures and temperatures, provide appropriate fluid-flow characteristics and are environmentally benign. In pursuit of such unique demands, nanoparticles have recently been employed as additives to enhance physical and thermal properties of drilling fluids (nanofluids). Nanofluids also improve electrical, magnetic, optical, rheological and tribological properties. Overall, these new generations of nanofluids are considered to enhance transport phenomena during petroleum drilling processes. However, petroleum drilling operations generate huge amounts of waste such as mud and wastewater. While the fate of nanoparticles in the waste is uncertain, therefore, this research aims to develop a strategy for the management and treatment of nanoparticles in drilling waste in order to minimize its impact on the environment.

Renewable Energy

Justine McMillan and Richard Karsten, Acadia University

Presentation Abstract: “Tidal Power in Minas Passage”

Large tidal currents exist in the Minas Passage, which connects the Minas Basin to the Bay of Fundy off the north-western coast of Nova Scotia. The strong currents through this deep, narrow channel make it a promising location for the generation of electrical power using in-stream turbines. A finite-volume numerical model was used to accurately simulate the high tidal amplitudes throughout the Bay of Fundy. The bottom friction in the Minas Passage was then increased to simulate the presence of turbines and estimates of the extractable power were made. The simulations suggest that up to 6.9 GW of power can be extracted; however, as a result, the system is pushed closer to resonance which causes an increase in tidal amplitude of over 15% along the coast of Maine. The tides in the Minas Basin would also experience a decrease of 30% in amplitude if the maximum power is extracted. Such large changes could have harmful environmental impacts, however, the simulations also indicate that up to 2.5 GW of power can be extracted with less than a 6% change in the tides throughout the region. According to Nova Scotia Energy, 2.5 GW could power over 800,000 homes.

Krista Kavanaugh, Saint Francis Xavier University

Presentation Abstract: “Renewable Energy Research at ESRC”

A long-term development capacity study for geothermal and wind energy in Atlantic Canada is currently underway at the ESRC. In both cases, this will examine the long-term potential of these energy sources.

Long-term studies of geothermal energy are rare and in some of the few cases where post-development impacts have been examined, significant losses of efficiency and widespread subsurface impacts have been documented.  This has shown that there is a need for a better understanding of subsurface heat transport and site investigations.  In the current study, this issue will be dealt with through the creation of a database of geothermal parameters for Atlantic Canada and site investigations at strategic locations.   In carrying this out, this research project will determine not only the amount of energy available to be accessed, but the optimal level of development that preserves environmental quality.

The evaluation of wind energy capacity will be established through the analysis of wind probability distributions using current and recent data. This work will also utilize downscaled global climate model outputs to assist with the assessment of current and possible future wind field potential. Local, regional and synoptic weather relationships to the regional wind field will be examined, identified and incorporated into the future climate scenarios assessments.   This work will assist in strategic development of wind energy resources in Atlantic Canada in today’s changing climate.


Lydia North, Acadia University

Presentation Abstract: “Dispersion of antifouling biocides from marine energy structures and potential effects on local ecosystems”

Energy generation and transmission structures are progressively being installed in offshore environments. Due to constant exposure to seawater, the surfaces of these structures must be protected against the buildup of fouling organisms. Paints containing tributyltin (TBT) compounds were frequently used as antifouling products until a ban was placed on them in 2002 due to their high toxicity to non-target marine organisms, especially shellfish. Many newer antifouling paints contain cuprous oxide (or a similar copper compound) and a “booster biocide” such as Irgarol 1051, Diuron, zinc pyrithione, or Sea-nine 211. Recent studies have demonstrated the presence of these biocides in coastal waters in such diverse regions as the United States, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Bermuda, and France. This research work will focus on laboratory and field scale studies to examine the environmental fate, behavior and risk assessment of new antifouling biocides on marine organisms. In the near future, the findings from this study will be utilized to assess the status and recommend better strategies to manage the levels of these biocides in marine environments.

Alternative Energy

Mausam Verma, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “Economic and Environmental Sustainability of the Dairy Industry Through Conversion of Waste to Bioenergy and Other Value Added Products”

Modern civilization and its economy have become dependent upon a prodigious consumption of energy derived from the burning of fossil fuels. These traditional sources of energy, which we rely on for 80 percent of our needs, are rapidly depleting. Our population is growing and the demand for energy is increasing rapidly. Energy price and security of supply and their effects on the production cost have been of increasing concern to Canadian farmers. The amount of energy related costs as a proportion of the total operating costs can be as high as 29 % in areas where field crop production predominates. Thus, the increase in the real cost of energy related inputs has been one of the major factors impacting the cost of the agricultural production.

However, agriculture has the potential for replacing some of the purchased energy in the form of fossil fuels, commercial fertilizer and field produced animal feed with bioenergy, organic fertilizer and animal feed from on-site renewable biomass in order to economically and environmentally sustain itself. Such biomass sources could be the manures from livestock and poultry operations. Fuels from these biomass materials could be used for space and water heating of farm houses and animal shelters, grain drying and as fuels for heating greenhouses, with their high energy demands in cold weather. The latter is particularly important if Canada is to reduce its imports of horticultural off-season crops. Recovery of organic fertilizers and animal feeds will not only reduce the operating costs of agricultural operations but also will help sustain the environment in which it operates and relies upon. Through the presentation of a case study in Nova Scotia, the application of integrated biosystems (IBS) and environmental biotechnology, environmental and economic sustainability of dairy operations will be highlighted.

Mausam Verma, Dalhousie University

Presentation Abstract: “Improved Bioethanol Production From Cheese Whey Using Candida Pseudotropicalis Under Batch Condition With Addition of Nutrient Supplement”

Candida Pseudotropicalis ATCC 8619 was selected among nine strains of lactose fermenting yeast for the production of ethanol from cheese whey. The effects of three nutrients (ammonium sulphate (NH4)2SO4, dipotassium hydrogen phosphate K2HPO4, yeast extract and a combination of them) on the ethanol yield from cheese whey were investigated. The results indicated that no addition of nutrients supplement is necessary to achieve complete lactose utilization during cheese whey ethanol fermentation. However, addition of a small concentration (0.005 % wt/vol) of these supplements reduced the lag period and the total fermentation time and increased the specific growth rate of the yeast. Higher concentrations (0.01 and 0.015 % wt/vol) of ammonium sulphate and dipotassium hydrogen phosphate inhibited the cell growth and reduced lactose consumption. The highest ethanol (21.17 g/L) was achieved using yeast extract at concentration of 0.01% wt/v, given a conversion efficiency of 98.3%. No indication of alcohol inhibition was observed in this study.