April 2017 
Innovative Solutions from StratoChem Services 
To remain on the cusp of technology and science, StratoChem Services is consistently adding new innovative solutions to its service list. Our water lab is now equipped with an inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), a spectrophotometer, a pH meter, and a Conductivity Salinity Resistivity TDS meter, allowing us to provide companies with water solutions such as identifying sample provenance, determining water quality, and characterization according to chemical composition. Our geochemists understand that water analysis plays a major role in oil and gas production and transportation, industrial plants, and agriculture, and so StratoChem has committed to providing inventive solutions to your team's most pressing requests.



Furthermore, we have added a new pyrolysis method known as the Modified Shale Play Method for Rock-Eval 6. The difference between our modified method and the original Shale Play method--first introduced by Romero-Sarmiento et al. 2016--is the use of three heating ramps punctuated by two three-minute hold times. The peak values produced by our modified method holds values different from those produced by the reservoir and source rock method in that each peak refers to a portion of oil components Sh0, Sh1, and Sh2, respectively. 

At StratoChem Services, we understand the convenience of having all analyses conducted under one roof. For this reason, we are building a rock properties lab alongside our rock organic geochemical services. The addition of the Immersed Bulk Volume instrument allows us to measure the bulk volume of core samples before measuring the grain volume of tested cores using our Helium Porosimeter. Together, these two instruments measure the effective porosity of cylinder-shaped cores, oriented cores, sidewall cores, and cuttings.



Finally, we have our recently-introduced software suite, Resolution, created by our programmers and top geochemists to aid and enable geoscientists to better interpret and analyze large sets of data with user-friendly software. Resolution consists of seven different individual modules all designed to generate visual deliverables quickly and accurately for applications such as kinetics, reservoir geochemistry, Gas Chromatography/Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry data visualization and processing, data mapping, data plotting, and geochemical logging.

Our flagship kinetics software, ORFA, was developed in collaboration with Dr. Douglas Waples to provide accurate fits to pyrolysis curves, allow variation in spacing of activation energy values, predict gas-oil ratios, and more. Our reservoir geochemistry software, Resolve, was built to analyze and assess reservoir production efficiency, reservoir compartmentalization/communication, production allocation for up to 8 zones, and comparison between oil samples to better pinpoint oil families.

OilPrints and OilView together visualize, process, and perform quality control on gas chromatograms to identify and describe characteristic peaks from any type of GC and GCMS instrument. Once the peaks have been generated and checked, our plotting software HORUS can be used to better interpret results with its 70+ built-in plots. In conjunction with HORUS, our mapping software, Sweet Spot, provides users with the freedom to map plot ratios, sample parameters, and wells on a global scale.

The last Resolution module is Payzone, a module built to seamlessly display well logs with different depths and various lithological patterns. Payzone also incorporates RockWash images with corresponding depths, imports .LAS files and generates geochemical logs effectively.


Whether your needs are analytical or investigative, StratoChem works to provide the most innovative and accurate solutions for its clients, always striving to support and encourage the scientific and technological advances that push our industry's frontiers.


Assail Energy to buy Shell's Gabon onshore interests for $587 million

THE PLEISTOCENE: THE GREAT ICE AGE

The dawn of humanity and the population of the continents; the end of the mammoths and saber-toothed cats; the time when the continents took on their present shape. . .popularly called "the Ice Age," the Pleistocene saw the birth of the world as we know it, laying the groundwork for agriculture, human civilization, and all that followed.  In this Kobry, we will examine this critical epoch in earth's history and all the changes it brought.

The word "Pleistocene" is derived from Greek, meaning "most new," and was coined in 1839 by Charles Lyell, a geologist whose ideas about the age of the earth ultimately influenced Darwin.  The Pleistocene divides the earlier Pliocene from our current Holocene. The first epoch in the Quaternary Period, four stages subdivided the Pleistocene, beginning with the Gelasian and followed by the Calabrian, Ionian and finally the Tarantian. The Pleistocene refers to the series of glacial episodes lasting from about 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago. From its beginning, the Earth's tectonic layout retained its current shape, but extensive ice sheets and glaciers made the landscape of the Pleistocene different from that of today's world.
 
Anatomy of an Ice Age
 
An ice age is a period of lower global temperatures and recurring glacial expansion potentially lasting millions of years. The cold temperatures cause the emergence and expansion of continental and polar ice sheets as well as glaciers. These colder glacial periods are coupled with warmer interglacial periods in which ice sheets nonetheless remain. The world is currently in the midst of an interglacial period: the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are present despite warmer surface temperatures. 


Differences in glaciation between the late Pleistocene and the modern day. 
Glaciation
 
During the coldest parts of the Pleistocene, glaciers covered about 30% of the Earth's land mass and parts of the oceans either froze or were covered by ice sheets. The largest ice sheet was located in North America, the Laurentide Ice Sheet, and extended from the Rocky Mountains in the west to Nova Scotia in the east. Another prominent ice sheet in North America, the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, covered the mountainous region from Western Alaska to northern Washington. The United States West Coast, Mexico, Central America, and Alaska were covered by glaciers and ice caps. At its greatest extent, the Scandinavian Ice Sheet covered Great Britain, Germany, Poland, and even northeast to the Arctic Ocean. In the Alps and the mountainous areas of Europe and Asia, glaciers and ice caps were common. Glaciers also developed in Tasmania and on the high mountains in Africa--even those near the equator.

Map showing the locations of Pleistocene continental glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere

Ice sheets eroded bedrock terrain which resulted in the formation of lakes. The effects of glaciation in mountainous terrain has given us today's most scenic landscapes: glaciers carved towering peaks such as the Matterhorn in the Alps, U-shaped valleys, and high-level lakes and waterfalls. 

Climate and Life during the Pleistocene
 
The overall cooling in global temperatures greatly impacted existing species which could not adapt to the sudden change in environment. Thus the Pleistocene is identified by both a significant change in temperature as well as a change in animal remains, indicating the extinction of some species and the development of a more cold-resistant group of fauna. Lyell himself noticed this change as early as the 1830s, observing that between layers of rock in Sicily, there was a transition in marine mollusk fossils from warm-water to cold-water species.
 
While the Pleistocene was characterized by fluctuating episodes of cooling and warming, the general climate was much colder than that we are accustomed to today. The ice sheets accumulated water reserves as a result of glacial advances, causing a significant drop in sea level.  Bridges formed between landmasses, linking Siberia to Alaska and New Guinea to Australia. Such land bridges allowed migration of many species-including human beings-to previously inaccessible areas. 

The path ancestors of today's Native Americans took across today's Bering Strait.

While many Pleistocene species still exist today, the epoch was also characterized by the presence of distinctive large land animals (megafauna)-most famously the wooly mammoth, which lent its name to the largest contemporary biome on earth: the Mammoth Steppe. Formed during the last glacial maximum, the Mammoth Steppe extended from Spain eastwards across Eurasia to Canada from the Arctic islands southwards to China. The Mammoth Steppe had a cold, dry climate, characterized mainly by grass and shrubs for vegetation. This landscape laid the foundation for an ecosystem that thrived for about 100,000 years before its sudden extinction about 12,000 years ago. 

T he molar of a mammoth from Arizona.
(Source: http://www.t-rat.com/Pages/TheCenozoic.html)

Megafauna dominated the landscape. Some we would recognize: bison, horses, camels, and wolves were common sights in this vast environment.  Others were more exotic.  The aforementioned mammoths coexisted with the majestic Irish elk, the wooly rhinoceros, and the aurochs, ancestor to our modern cattle. Large predators stalked these herbivores. Saber-toothed cats, typified by the fearsome Smilodon fatalis, used their long, blade-like teeth to kill their prey.  The dire wolf, scourge of the American tundra, attained sizes 25% larger than the biggest modern grey wolf.  Giant cave hyenas hunted rhinoceroses, and both Europe and North America played host to massive bears.  The American short-faced bear stood six feet at the shoulder on all-fours, and archaeological excavations indicate that the fearsome Eurasian cave bear attained a place of religious significance to Neanderthal man.  

Two reconstructions of the dire wolf. (Image by Sergiodlarosa, Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Canis_dirus_Sergiodlarosa.jpg)

Nor were megafauna confined to the Mammoth Steppe.  Megatherium, a huge, ground-dwelling sloth, lived in South America alongside camels and mastodons. Australia was distinguished by giant marsupials, including huge, grazing wombats (Diprotodon), a five hundred-pound kangaroo (Procoptodon), and predators such as the lion-like Thylacoleo.  Nor were mammals the only animals on the continent to attain large sizes.  The Bluff Downs python grew to over thirty feet in length, and Quinkana was a twenty-foot crocodile adapted to run and hunt on land.  The monitor lizard Varanus Prisca, one of Australia's most fearsome predators,attained sizes over twice those of the largest Komodo dragon.
 
We still have megafauna today.  The African and Indian elephants, the various big cats and bears, hippopotamuses, and large hoofed mammals like water buffalo and wild boars come to mind.  But the giant sloths and saber-toothed cats have all disappeared.  Mammoths survived on remote Wrangel Island north of Siberia until about the second millennium BCE-the last of them were contemporaries of the Twelfth Dynasty Pharaohs of Egypt and the later Sumerian kings.  What happened?  Scientists have competing theories.
 
Some hypothesize that as Earth moved into the Holocene, the climate became warmer and wetter and in turn resulted in the disappearance of the grasslands of the Steppe and their dependent megafauna.  While this may explain the extinction of the Eurasian species, it fails to account for megafaunal disappearances in Australia and South America.  A more likely explanation is the appearance of a superior predator against which even saber-toothed cats and cave bears could not compete: human beings.

The wooly mammoth with a wooly rhinoceros in the background.

First appearing 100,000 years ago on the savannahs of Africa, by about 13,000 years before the present, anatomically-modern humanity had spread to every continent aside from Antarctica.  That Paleolithic ("Old Stone Age," before the dawn of agriculture) human beings were big game hunters has become clear through archaeological evidence: megafaunal bones, sometimes with embedded arrows and tool cutmarks, and European cave paintings depicting such hunting.  The large and distinctive Clovis points made by the ancestors of today's Native Americans are thought to have been used to hunt mammoths.
 
Today, human beings are one species: Homo sapiens.  But contained within our DNA are traces of other, extinct branches of Pleistocene humanity.  These "archaic" human beings are subspecies that form a small but measurable part of our ancestry, including Russia's Denisovans and, most famously, the Neanderthals. 
 
While Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) separated from our branch of the human family tree at least 270,000 years ago, they were not the ape-like cave men portrayed in movies but effective hunters who made complex stone tools, used fire, and may even have buried their dead and built boats.  While little is known of Neanderthal psychology and language, it has become clear that they were much closer to their H. sapiens cousins than previous reconstructions showed-indeed, it might have been hard to tell the difference between the two.
 
In fact, Neanderthals were so close to our ancestors that they interbred.  While this interbreeding was hypothesized for decades, recent genetic analysis has shown that the average human being of non-Sub-Saharan African descent has from 2-8% Neanderthal ancestry-a living legacy of the Pleistocene built into the very cells of our species.
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