Dr. Duncan McIlroy
Canada Research Chair in Petroleum Geoscience/ Geotechnology
Research involves: Developing fuel and energy technology, and carryout out exploration and exploitation of the Earth, fossil fuels, and their derivatives.
Research relevance: The research is leading to a more complete understanding of the role of organisms in controlling the porosity and permeability of sandstone reservoir intervals.
Coming to Canada from: Sedimentology & Internet Solutions, UK
Before the Reservoir
Sediments are deposited in many Earth surface environments. Among these, there are few that are entirely hostile to life. Animals interact with sediments in many different ways, but especially as a source of foodstuffs and for shelter. This burrowing and feeding activity is the normal condition for most sedimentary environments, but especially marine and marginal marine settings.
Most grains of sediment in the marine environment are likely to have passed internally through many organisms such as crabs and worms before eventually coming to be deposited and buried to become a sedimentary rock. In addition, the burrows that modify the sediment’s texture can also be preserved as recognizable "trace fossils" or more diffuse textural changes known as "bioturbation."
Ancient sediments host the majority of the world’s hydrocarbon deposits. Marine rocks are common exploration targets owing to their good reservoir quality. Canada Research Chair Dr. Duncan McIlroy is exploring the impact that biological processes have upon ancient rocks.
The changes that sediments undergo as they are transformed from a loose aggregation of grains into a solid rock are known as diagenesis. The combined effects of bioturbation and diagenesis have profound effects on the hydraulic properties of the rock – porosity and permeability – that are integral to the industrial production of pore-fluid hydrocarbons.
Dr. McIlroy’s research is assessing these important links between animals, minerals, and reservoir quality. He aims to generate improved models for the prediction of reservoir properties through a combination of experimental work with modern animals and study of ancient bioturbated sediments.