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OSTIblog Articles in the Eocene Topic

Out of the past and into the future

If you look closely, you can find fossilized material on the banks of the Norris Lake shoreline in Anderson County, Tennessee when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) lowers the water level.  If you are really lucky, you will find traces of sea creatures or beautiful flora or fauna impressions encased between the freshly exposed layers of rock. These are ancient treasures from our country’s rich geological history.

A paleogeography reconstruction of the Earth took place some 56 to 34 million years ago during the Eocene geologic period of time .  At the beginning of the Eocene, high temperatures and warm oceans created a hothouse world.  Continents drifted toward their present positions. As Australia split from the southern continent, a cold water channel developed between the two continents and a global cooling trend began.  In western North America, mountain building started and huge lakes formed.  Oil shale was formed by deposition of silt and organic debris on lake beds and on the ocean floor.

Many of the oil shale deposits and fossil zones around the world were formed during this period of time.  The Green River Formation in the United States records 6 million years of Eocene sedimentation in a group of mountain lakes in the three basins of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 1.5 trillion barrels of shale oil are contained within Green River Formation’s oil shale. This formation is the richest and largest known oil shale resource in North America.

DOE researchers are making progress on the long road to...

Related Topics: Eocene, extraction, geological, Green River Formation, Oil Shale, paleogeography, SciTech Connect, water