Tous les articles par Alain Préat

Full-time professor at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium • Department of Earth Sciences and Environment Res. Grp. - Biogeochemistry & Modeling of the Earth System Sedimentology & Basin Analysis • Alumnus, Collège des Alumni, Académie Royale de Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux Arts de Belgique (mars 2013). • Prof. Invited, Université de Mons-Hainaut (2010-present-day) • Prof. Coordinator and invited to the Royal Academy of Sciences of Belgium (Belgian College) (2009- present day) • Prof. partim to the DEA (third cycle) led by the University of Lille (9 universities from 1999 to 2004) - Prof. partim at the University of Paris-Sud/Orsay, European-Socrates Agreement (1995-1998) • Prof. partim at the University of Louvain, Convention ULB-UCL (1993-2000) • Since 2015 : Member of Comité éditorial de la Revue Géologie de la France • Since 2014 : Regular author of texts for ‘la Revue Science et Pseudosciences’ • Many field works (several weeks to 2 months) (Meso- and Paleozoic carbonates, Paleo- to Neoproterozoic carbonates) in Europe, USA (Nevada), Papouasia (Holocene), North Africa (Algeria, Morrocco, Tunisia), West Africa (Gabon, DRC, Congo-Brazzaville, South Africa, Angola), Iraq... Recently : field works (3 to 5 weeks) Congo- Brazzaville 2012, 2015, 2016 (carbonate Neoproterozoic). Degree in geological sciences at the Free University of Brussels (ULB) in 1974, I went to Algeria for two years teaching mining geology at the University of Constantine. Back in Belgium I worked for two years as an expert for the EEC (European Commission), first on the prospecting of Pb and Zn in carbonate environments, then the uranium exploration in Belgium. Then Assistant at ULB, Department of Geology I got the degree of Doctor of Sciences (Geology) in 1985. My thesis, devoted to the study of the Devonian carbonate sedimentology of northern France and southern Belgium, comprised a significant portion of field work whose interpretation and synthesis conducted to the establishment of model of carbonate platforms and ramps with reefal constructions. I then worked for Petrofina SA and shared a little more than two years in Angola as Director of the Research Laboratory of this oil company. The lab included 22 people (micropaleontology, sedimentology, petrophysics). My main activity was to interpret facies reservoirs from drillings in the Cretaceous, sometimes in the Tertiary. I carried out many studies for oil companies operating in this country. I returned to the ULB in 1988 as First Assistant and was appointed Professor in 1990. I carried out various missions for mining companies in Belgium and oil companies abroad and continued research, particularly through projects of the Scientific Research National Funds (FNRS). My research still concerns sedimentology, geochemistry and diagenesis of carbonate rocks which leads me to travel many countries in Europe or outside Europe, North Africa, Papua New Guinea and the USA, to conduct field missions. Since the late 90's, I expanded my field of research in addressing the problem of mass extinctions of organisms from the Upper Devonian series across Euramerica (from North America to Poland) and I also specialized in microbiological and geochemical analyses of ancient carbonate series developing a sustained collaboration with biologists of my university. We are at the origin of a paleoecological model based on the presence of iron-bacterial microfossils, which led me to travel many countries in Europe and North Africa. This model accounts for the red pigmentation of many marble and ornamental stones used in the world. This research also has implications on the emergence of Life from the earliest stages of formation of Earth, as well as in the field of exobiology or extraterrestrial life ... More recently I invested in the study from the Precambrian series of Gabon and Congo. These works with colleagues from BRGM (Orléans) are as much about the academic side (consequences of the appearance of oxygen in the Paleoproterozoic and study of Neoproterozoic glaciations) that the potential applications in reservoir rocks and source rocks of oil (in collaboration with oil companies). Finally I recently established a close collaboration with the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences of Belgium to study the susceptibility magnetic signal from various European Paleozoic series. All these works allowed me to gain a thorough understanding of carbonate rocks (petrology, micropaleontology, geobiology, geochemistry, sequence stratigraphy, diagenesis) as well in Precambrian (2.2 Ga and 0.6 Ga), Paleozoic (from Silurian to Carboniferous) and Mesozoic (Jurassic and Cretaceous) rocks. Recently (2010) I have established a collaboration with Iraqi Kurdistan as part of a government program to boost scientific research in this country. My research led me to publish about 180 papers in international and national journals and presented more than 170 conference papers. I am a holder of eight courses at the ULB (5 mandatory and 3 optional), excursions and field stages, I taught at the third cycle in several French universities and led or co-managed a score of 20 Doctoral (PhD) and Post-doctoral theses and has been the promotor of more than 50 Masters theses.

Constraining climate sensitivity and continental versus seafloor weathering using an inverse geological carbon cycle model

by J. Krissansen-Totton and D.C. Catling, May 22,  2017, in Nature

The relative influences of tectonics, continental weathering and seafloor weathering in controlling the geological carbon cycle are unknown. Here we develop a new carbon cycle model that explicitly captures the kinetics of seafloor weathering to investigate carbon fluxes and the evolution of atmospheric CO2 and ocean pH since 100 Myr ago.



by CNN Money, May 21, 2017 in GWPF

The fuel-hungry country has been pursuing the energy source, located at the bottom of oceans and in polar regions, for nearly two decades. China’s minister of land and resources, Jiang Daming, said Thursday that the successful collection of the frozen fuel was “a major breakthrough that may lead to a global energy revolution,” according to state media.

Experts agree that flammable ice could be a game changer for the energy industry, similar to the U.S. shale boom. But they caution that big barriers — both technological and environmental — need to be cleared to build an industry around the frozen fuel, which is also known as gas hydrate.


Claim: Dams are major driver of global environmental change

by University of Waterloo, May 17, 2017

Water reservoirs created by damming rivers could have significant impacts on the world’s carbon cycle and climate system that aren’t being accounted for, a new study concludes.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Waterloo and the Université libre de Bruxelles, appears in Nature Communications. It found that man-made dam reservoirs trap nearly one-fifth of the organic carbon moving from land to ocean via the world’s rivers.


Everything You Think You Know About Coal in China Is Wrong

by Melanie Hart et al., May 15, 2017

The United States has a broader array of energy options than China does. However, China is innovating and investing heavily in what it has, and some of the transformations it is achieving already are truly impressive.

China’s leaders have made a strategic choice about the direction of the country: They are aiming to shift from an economy based on heavy, polluting industries to one driven by technology and innovation. The political will for this upgrade has roots in both international geostrategic ambitions and domestic popular grievances about lagging standards of living—and it is beginning to bear fruit. In the process, however, vested interests and technical stumbling blocks have wasted resources and acted as a ballast against Chinese progress. China has the potential to do much more, and the international community should push it to achieve that potential.


Porewater salinity reveals past lake-level changes in Lake Van, the Earth’s largest soda lake

by Yama Tomonaga et al., March 22, 2017, Nature

In closed-basin lakes, sediment porewater salinity can potentially be used as a conservative tracer to reconstruct past fluctuations in lake level. However, until now, porewater salinity profiles did not allow quantitative estimates of past lake-level changes because, in contrast to the oceans, significant salinity changes (e.g., local concentration minima and maxima) had never been observed in lacustrine sediments. Here we show that the salinity measured in the sediment pore water of Lake Van (Turkey) allows straightforward reconstruction of two major transgressions and a major regression that occurred during the last 250 ka.