John D. Bloch
Consultant, Adjunct Faculty
Earth & Planetary Sciences Department
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Education: Ph D., University of Calgary, 1989; MA - Washington University in St. Louis, 1985; BA - New York University, 1972
"My research interests include the geochemistry and mineralogy of clastic sedimentary rocks and the origin and composition of sediments (petrology). Fine-grained clastic rocks (mudstones and shales) make up the majority of sedimentary rocks on the Earth and are the source for oil and gas on many continents. These rocks are composed of very small particles; the finest sand, silt and clay. The clay-sized particles are so small that they cannot be seen even with the most powerful light microscopes. To observe them, clay scientists use an electron microscope. Therefore, studying these rocks is challenging work.
"Shales and mudstones are also aquitards; that is, fluids cannot flow through them easily, so they control the flow of water, oil and gas in the subsurface. This is very important for the exploration and production of oil and gas and in understanding our supply of fresh water that comes from underground.
"Clay minerals are also important industrial materials that are utilized in everything from building roads and environmentally safe garbage dumps to making paper, medicine and cosmetics. They are used to clean up oil spills and enhance chemical reactions. Every day, most people come in contact with a clay mineral in some form or other.