Training videos

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Content of these free training videos ranges over a selection of evaporite-related topics designed to give a feel for the content level in our various in-house SaltWork courses and workshops. Workshop catalogues can be downloaded using the links on this page, and you can contact us for more information.

Introduction to Evaporites

The video covers the initial 40 minutes of the" Introduction to Evaporites" workshop. 

Evaporites: Brine layering Part 1 - Brine persistence & heliothermy

The video discusses the causes and occurrences of layered brines as an introduction to the significance of brine hydrology as the central control on primary or depositional textures in an evaporite bed.
More information on brine layering and heliothermy

The video focuses on a conceptual understanding of the nature and causes of layered brines and how a dense brine mass tends to persist in the sumps of many modern evaporite depositional settings. For a broader discussion and the detail of the literature base used in the construction of this video, you should download the accompanying Salty Matters article (April 30, 2020).

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Evaporites: Brine layering Part 2 - Primary subaqueous textures

The video discusses why primary evaporite textures reflect the brine hydrology's layered state at the time various salts were precipitating. It defines primary textures in a subaqueous evaporite bed and how they are responses to brine layering, especially holomictic versus meromictic hydrologies. It documents the how and where of deepwater evaporite textures and how to distinguish this type of salt fabric from the more widely documented shallow to ephemeral water primary evaporite textures.
More information on controls on primary evaporite textures
The video focuses on a conceptual understanding of the nature and causes primary evaporite layering. For a broader discussion and the detail of the literature base used in the construction of this video, you should download the relevant Salty Matters article (April 30, 2020)
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Evaporites: Reflections of deep time through ocean chemistry - Precambrian

Atmospheric conditions in the Early Precambrian were reducing and much hotter than today, so seawater was anoxic, more saline and warmer, with much higher levels of dissolved calcium and bicarbonate compared to Phanerozoic seawater. Gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O), which requires free sulphate, was a rare precipitate during concentration of Archean marine brine. Changing atmospheric proportions of CO2, CH4 and O2 meant sodium carbonate salts were significant lower-salinity early Archean marine-brine precipitates, in association with halite at higher salinities. Yet today, sodium carbonate salts, such as trona (NaHCO3.Na2CO3), nahcolite (NaHCO3) and shortite (2CaCO3.Na2CO3) cannot precipitate from brine with the ionic proportions of modern seawater. As the early Proterozoic atmosphere became increasing oxygenated, due to the spread of photosynthetic cyanobacteria, sulphate not sulphide, became the dominant form of sulphur in oceanic brines. By 2.4 Ga, gypsum followed by halite became the dominant marine evaporite salts formed in a concentrating seawater brine, as they do today. Today sodium bicarbonate salts only characterise nonmarine Type 1 brines and never precipitate as primary marine brine salts.
Additional information on Precambrian evaporites and oceanic chemistry
The video focuses on the relationship between atmospheric evolution and marine brine chemistry. For a related discussion and detail  covering some of the literature base used in the construction of this video, you should download the relevant Salty Matters article (August 28,  2016)
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Evaporites: Reflections of deep time and the evolution of ocean chemistry - Potash across the Phanerozoic

The mineralogy of potash ore salts (sylvite, carnallite, kainitite) and the ease of processing and recovery are related in part to the time and climatic setting when the various potash salts were first precipitated from an evaporating seawater brine. The ionic proportions of magnesium, calcium and sulphate in seawater oscillate across deep time, from the Cambrian until the present day, as do the relative latitudinal and longitudinal positions of the world’s major tectonic plates and the continental masses they carry about. These interactions control world climate and the ionic composition of seawater, which in turn controls the mineralogy of the major potash evaporites that precipitated at a particular time in the world’s geological past.

Additional information

More information on controls on potash ore mineralogy across deep time you can download a number of relevant Salty Matter articles

Evaporites: What hydrology creates a sabkha?

To clarify the geological usage of the term sabkha so it can be more easily applied to a particular vertical sequence in ancient evaporitic sediments, I define a sabkha as "...a saline groundwater-driven sedimentary system indicated by syndepositional intrasediment capillary evaporites, which can precipitate in both marine and continental saline mudflats.". The hydrology of precipitation, via capillary evaporation, is the same in both marine and continental settings.

Modern sabkhas in the Arabian Gulf are occasionally covered by ephemeral marine and continental floodwaters that, until recently, were thought to be the major suppliers of ions to underlying salts growing displacively in the sabkha matrix (per descendum - ions come from above). We know now that this is not the case. Rather, deeply circulated resurging continental groundwater moving into the strandzone is the major supplier (per ascendum - ions come from below) of salts to most sabkhas and many saline pans. The mudflat surface is dry and subaerial for most of the time. It is held in place by capillary moisture, fed from a shallow saline watertable lying a few centimetres to a metre or two below the sediment surface.

Additional information

Organic Matter in Saline Geosystems - 1. The flamingo connection

One of the most visually impressive indications of periodic but very high levels of organic productivity, in a well-adapted biota, in a salinity-stressed layered water body, resides in the "flamingo connection." The bright-pink lesser flamingo (Aves, Phoenicopteridae) flourishes in the alkaline lakes of the African Rift Valley and represents an ancient lineage of long-legged, microphagous, colonial wading birds.

Although often misperceived as tropical species, flamingo distribution is more closely tied to arid zones of the world and hypersaline lake sites, than it is to humid equatorial regions.

Flamingoes are filter feeders that thrive on the dense halotolerant cyanobacterial blooms (particularly of Arthrospira fusifomis) in the mesohaline shallows of saline lakes around the world. This creates a connection between flamingoes, mesohaline planktonic blooms, density-stratified waters and pulses of organic matter settling into a perennial anoxic layer at the base of the brine column.

Additional information

More information on Feast or Famine …...
More information on the Flamingo connection …...

Organic Matter in Saline Geosystems - 2. The Halobiota (I of II): What lives in salty water? - Primary producers

This video focuses on the halobiota and what produces high volumes of organic matter in saline waters - The Primary Producers, especially in the mesohaline salinity range. For many geologists, saline environments are seen as biotal deserts, mostly devoid of biological activity and little source rock potential. But at the microbial and phytoplankton level in the saline ecosystem, we now know that this is not the case. Instead, many modern saline water bodies are sites of periodic but intense organic activity. Numerous highly specialised algal, bacterial and archaeal species infrequently flourish and dieback (cycles of feast or famine). Occasionally, haloadaptive photosynthesisers can leave behind substantial volumes of oil-prone organic residues in laminated bottom sediments, especially in mesohaline carbonates, which on burial can evolve into prolific source rocks.

Additional information

More information on Life in Salty Waters ....,.

Organic Matter in Saline Geosystems - 2. The Halobiota (II of II): What lives in salty water? - The consumers

This video focuses on the halobiota and what consumes and degrades the high volumes of organic matter periodically produced in saline waters - The consumers. They thrive in salinities ranging from brackish to halite-saturated. For many geologists, saline environments are seen as biotal deserts, mostly devoid of biological activity and little source rock potential. But at the microbial level in the saline ecosystem, we now know that this is not the case. Instead, many modern saline water bodies are sites of periodic but intense microbial activity ranging across the bacteria and the archaea, fungi and protists. When salinities are appropriate numerous highly specialised algal, bacterial and archaeal species can flourish (followed by dieback in cycles of feast or famine). This periodic enlargement of the halobital biomass is also seen in some multicellular eukaryotic species such as particularly well-adapted species of brine shrimp, ostracods, gastropods, molluscs and fish, as well as vast flocks of birds visiting saline settings when the plankton are blooming across the upper freshened water mass in a density-stratified brine column.

Additional information

More information on Life in Salty Waters ....,.

Organic Matter in Saline Geosystems - 3. Mesohaline source rock maturation

This video, the tenth in our series of free training videos, discusses the mechanics of maturation of mesohaline source rocks and the various techniques and approaches needed to quantify the different maturation stages. A hydrocarbon source rock is generally considered a fine-grained rock that generates and releases enough fluids to form commercial accumulations of oil or gas during its burial and heating. m

Mesohaline source rocks are typified by:
• Dominantly halotolerant phytoplanktonic organics that were deposited at the base of a density-stratified brine column in a hypersaline anoxic lower water mass
• The organics tend to be Type 1 or Type 1-2 source rocks (alginites and liptinites) with only minor input from higher plant material -hence lesser Type 3 inputs and only minor vitrinite
• Accordingly, mesohaline source rock maturation is early, and generation indications are likely to reflect vitrinite suppression
• Nearby evaporites make excellent seals, and if the salt seal is halokinetic, it can create stacked high-efficiency structural traps (as discussed in the salt tectonics modules)
• The widespread influence of dissolving salt edges drives "salting-out" in the carrier fluids, enhancing hydrocarbon volumes in many evaporite-related accumulations.

Additional information

More information on source rock maturation ....,.

Organic Matter in Saline Geosystems - 4. Biomarkers and their significance in saline geosystems

At its simplest, much of the utility of biomarkers in saline environments comes from salinity-related differences in contributions to organic matter of the general categories of primary producers (autotrophs), namely prokaryotes (cyanobacteria and bacteria) and eukaryotes (higher plants, algae) and archaea. Most triterpanes are associated with prokaryotic sources, whereas steranes tend to be produced by eukaryotes. Thus, the triterpane/sterane ratio can be a rough measure of the prokaryote/eukaryote contribution to the organic material. As salinity increases, the less salinity-tolerant eukaryotic organisms (mostly green algae) give way to more halotolerant bacteria and cyanobacteria (tricyclic and hopane producers) with a corresponding increase in the triterpane/sterane ratio. Thus high alkalinity/salinity settings are characterised by tricyclics (C20-C24;m/z 191), β-carotene (C40H56 compound; m/z 125) and gammacerane (C30 triterpane; m/z 191), all with prokaryote sources. Hence, high levels of gammacerane and β-carotene in ancient organic signatures are typically associated with highly saline and density-stratified, often lacustrine environments.

Additional information

More information on source rock maturation ....,.

Source rocks in Saline Geosystems  - 5. Enrichment Present and Past: Part 1 of 2

This training video (1 of 2) on the worlds mesohaline source rocks focuses on hypersaline settings where organic enrichment occurs today in modern and ancient saline lacustrine and supra-salt allochthon brine sump (DHAL) settings. It emphasises the various physical and biological properties and associations that facilitate the organic enrichment and deposition of source rocks. Much of the organic matter preserved in evaporitic carbonates, and the resulting source rocks, originated as planktonic blooms (pelagic “rain from heaven”) or from the benthic biomass (“in situ” accumulations). Such organics typically settled out as seriate pulses of organic matter (often pelleted) that sank to the bottom of a layered brine column. Each pulse was tied to a short period when surface brines were diluted and halotolerant producers (mostly cyanobacteria and algae) flourished in the freshened lit zone. That is to say, the laminated mesohaline mudstones that constitute evaporitic source rocks reflect biological responses to conditions of “feast or famine” in variably layered bodies of brine. 

Additional information

More information on source rock maturation ....,.

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