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Paul C. Hackley, Ph.D.

Paul Hackley is a Research Geologist with the USGS Geology, Energy & Minerals (GEM) Science Center in Reston, VA.

As project chief of the Thermal Indices project I pursue research on thermal maturity, chemical composition and physical state of sedimentary organic matter. The Thermal Indices project is part of the Geology, Energy & Minerals (GEM) Science Center and is funded by the Energy Resources Program (ERP). The Thermal Indices project team develops and applies petrographic methods for the reliable identification of different types of sedimentary organic matter, and measures and interprets the response of organic matter to thermal stress in natural environments and in laboratory-based heating experiments. Improved understanding of the thermal evolution of sedimentary organic matter enables more accurate assessment of petroleum source rock maturation, thereby decreasing uncertainty in the determination of thermal histories, the timing of petroleum generation and the placement of resource assessment spatial boundaries. This leads to the overall goal of improving estimates of undiscovered petroleum resources, which is a central mission of the ERP. 

My work focuses on four integrated research task areas which have petrographic approaches to thermal indices as their common denominator: 1) standardization and reproducibility of measurement, 2) utilization of hydrous pyrolysis for (artificial) thermal conversion of sedimentary organic matter, 3) petrographic innovation areas for thermal indices and organic evolution, and 4) petrographic laboratory support. 

Thermal indices research is accomplished from the Organic Petrology and Hydrous Pyrolysis laboratories in Reston. The laboratories include facilities for sample preparation, hydrous pyrolysis, optical and fluorescence microscopy, and infrared spectroscopy. The Thermal Indices project team works with external collaborators from global academic, government and industry groups. All thermal indices research efforts reach toward the goal of improving fossil fuel resource assessments by generating new understanding of the processes occurring during thermal evolution of sedimentary organic matter and its conversion to petroleum.

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government