Rob Baskin wins award for best oral presentation (AAPG-RMS)

Rob Baskin was presented the A. I. Levorsen Award at the 2014 Rocky Mountain Section of the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) Annual Meeting.  The award honors the best oral presentation at a given AAPG section meeting (in this case, at the 2013 annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah) with particular emphasis on creative thinking toward new ideas in exploration.  Rob’s presentation was about his PhD dissertation research, which he successfully defended in August.

Microbialite Distribution in a Lacustrine Rift Basin, Great Salt Lake, Utah

Robert L. Baskin (University of Utah, Department of Geography)

Great Salt Lake (GSL) provides an ideal location for examining environmental and chemical influences on the heterogeneity of microbialite distributions in a lacustrine rift basin. A variety of microbialite morphologies have been observed in GSL, including giant, ramified columnar forms (tens of meters in diameter and height) to smaller benthic forms (meters in diameter and height) to widespread biofilms. While the larger columnar forms seem to be limited to a specific area of the lake, the benthic forms are pervasive in the shallower waters and appear to be controlled by depth-related factors. The influence of tectonic controls on microbialite distribution throughout GSL is evidenced by the abrupt occurrence of microbialites in areas of structural microtopographic highs. The relation between these highs and corresponding onlapping sediments trapped in hanging wall lows is repeated in many of the surveyed transects and likely occurs throughout the lake. Some microbialite growth appears very recent, occurring after Pleistocene Lake Bonneville; whereas in other areas, large ramified columnar forms appear long-lived, keeping pace with sediment accumulation. Examination of tectonic and chemical influences on the occurrence and distribution of microbialites in GSL using integrated geophysical data and spatial analysis tools provide insight into understanding fossil distributions and if distributions are related to evolution of the biological components of microbialite formation or variant environmental conditions.