Senior Petrologist




(801) 585-3540


Mineralogy, geochemistry, radiochemistry and evaluation and interpretation of complex mineralogical and geochemical datasets across a variety of geological settings using multiple, integrated techniques in order to solve complex geological problems.

Key recent achievements:

  • Evaluation and interpretation of multiple technique databases, including 39Ar/40Ar (total fusion and step-heated analyses), stable isotope (including δ18O), XRF, ICP-MS, ICP-AES and mineralogical data (QEMSCAN, SEM, SEM-FIB, TEM).
  • Collection and interpretation of mineralogical and mineral chemistry techniques across a variety of geological settings (including microprobe data).
  • Compilation, evaluation and interpretation of complex, multiple technique databases in New Zealand (in relation to Ph.D. research), South Africa (in relation to postdoctoral research) and Namibia (in relation to professional work).
  • Generated the largest data set of groundmass minerals ever produced for a kimberlite (Voorspoed) in the Kroonstad cluster and for many kimberlites in southern Africa (DeBeers company report, 2011).
  • Interpretation of large datasets, comprising soil, rock, drilling, geological and geochemical data for the Kaokoland region of Namibia. Including the geochemical characterization of the Okohongo deposit, Namibia.

2010 Ph.D. in Geology, University of London, Royal Holloway College (United Kingdom)

2005 B.Sc. (Honors) in Geology, Durham University (United Kingdom)

Ph.D. under the NERC (National Environmental Research Council, UK Government)

Blue Skies research program (NER/S/A/2005/13452) 2005-2010.


Levinthal, J. D., Richards, B., Snow, M. S., Watrous, M. G., McDonald, L. 2016. Correlating NORM with the mineralogical composition of shale at the microstructural and bulk scale. Applied Geochemistry 76, DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2016.11.004.

Olsen, A., Schwerdt, I., Jolley, A., Halverson, H., Richards, B., McDonald, L. 2019. A response surface model of morphological changes in UO2 and U3O8 following high temperature aging. Radiochimica Acta, DOI: 10.1515/ract-2018-3040.

Olsen, A., Schwerdt, I., Richards, B., McDonald, L. 2018. Quantification of high temperature oxidation of U3O8 and UO2. Journal of Nuclear Materials 508, DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2018.06.025.

Olsen, A., Richards, B., Schwerdt, I., Lusk, R., Smith, B., Jurrus, E., Ruggiero, C.E., McDonald, L. 2017 Quantifying Morphological Features of a-U3O8with Image Analysis for Nuclear Forensics. Analytical Chemistry 89 (5), DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.6b05020.

Rosen, A. Morris, G. Payne, B. Keach, I. Harvey, B. Richards-McClung, J. McLennan, R. Polson, R. Levey, T. Ring, E. Jurrus, and G.M. Jones. 2015.Klareco: An Indexing-based Architecture for Interactive Visualization of Heterogeneous Data Sources, In the 1st Workshop on Data Systems for Interactive Analysis (DSIA), Oct 2015.

Richards, B., Taylor, L., Levey, R., Mulligan, P. 2018. New Insights into the Exploration Prospects of the Central and Northern Karoo Basin, South Africa. American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), ACE Global Unconventional Systems II (EMD/SEPM).

Shu Jiang, Hongliu Zeng, Jinchuan Zhang, Neil Fishman, Baojun Bai, Xianming Xiao, Tongwei Zhang, Geoffrey Ellis, Xinjing Li, Bryony Richards-McClung, Dongsheng Cai, and Yongsheng Ma. Introduction to special section: China shale gas and shale oil plays. Interpretation, May 2015, v. 3:SJi-SJii, doi:10.1190/INT2015-0317-SPSEINTRO.1



Evaluation of the Porosity Distribution, Characteristics, and Sequence Stratigraphy and Depositional Facies of the Samples of the Astrakhan Region, Russia. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication I 01299_4, 2019.

Nanoscale-Resolution Large-Area SEM Imaging and Characterization of Unconventional Reservoir Rocks, Western Sedimentary Basin, Canada. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication RS00004, 2016.

Nanoscale-Resolution Large-Area SEM Imaging and Characterization of Unconventional Reservoir Rocks: Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (EDS) Analysis of SEM Images. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication RS00005, 2019.

Advanced Petrological Evaluation of the Astrakhan Field, Russia. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication I 01299_2, 2018.

Petrological Evaluation of the Astrakhan Field, Russia. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication I 01299, 2016.

EGI Research Services Folio: Diagenetic Discussion of Key Samples of the Astrakhan Region, Russia. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication I 01299_3, 2017.

Reservoir Characterization of the Karoo Basin, South Africa – Regional Geological Characterization and Unconventional Reservoir Evaluation. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication I 01242, 2017.

Magnetics and Gravity interpretation: Leads of the Karoo Basin, South Africa. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication I 01209, 2018.

Integrated Assessment of Prospects, Northern Karoo Basin, South Africa – Phase 2: Gravity and Magnetic Assessment of Rhino Resources Technical Cooperation Permit Areas. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication I 01298_5, 2017.

Petrological Summary for Newfield Exploration Duchesne County, Utah. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication RS00002_2, 2018.

Gronant Core Reservoir Characterization. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication I 01320, 2017.

Characterization of Karoo Basin Acreage TCP23 and TCP24. Principal Investigator. EGI Publication I 01165, 2017.

China Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays. Phase 2: Integrated Shale Reservoir Characterization in Primary Basins. Senior Petrologist; EGI Publication I00980_2, 2014.

Indian Subcontinent Shale Resource Plays. Phase 1: Regional Characteristics and Play Modeling. Senior Petrologist; EGI Publication I101028, 2013.

Liquids from Shales. Phase 2: Reservoir Description and Dynamics. Senior Petrologist; EGI Publication I00973_2, 2013.

South America Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays. Phase 1: Regional Geological Characteristics and Play Modeling. Principal Senior Petrologist; EGI Publication I01005, 2013.

Flow in Nanoporous Rocks – Measurement of Relative Permeabilities in Synthetic Nanoporous Materials & Shale Samples. Senior Petrologist; EGI Publication I01209_2, completion date: 2016.

South America Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays. Phase 2: Advancement of Shale Reservoir Characterization of the Phase 1 Basins and Preliminary Shale Reservoir Characterization of Additional South American Basins. Principal Petrological Investigator; EGI Publication I01005_2, completion date: 2016. 

Central Eurasia Potential of Shale Liquids and Gas. Senior Petrologist; EGI. Publication I01021, 2015.

UK Shale Gas. Senior Petrologist; Principal Petrological Investigator; EGI Publication I01023, 2015.



Principal Investigator: MUSE Energy Frontiers Research Center (EFRC)                                                                                2016-Present

Multi-scale Fluid-Solid Interactions in Architected and Natural Materials (MUSE)

The mission of MUSE is to develop a new fundamental understanding and models of the transport and interfacial properties of fluids confined by porous media by integrating multi-scale experimental and theoretical methods including state-of-the-art microscopy imaging, and validated multi-scale, physics-based modeling of hierarchical and natural nanostructured materials of varying levels of physical and chemical heterogeneities.


Principal Investigator: Remote Sensing of Igneous Intrusives                                                                                                  2016-Present

Reservoir Characterization of the Karoo Basin, South Africa: Regional Geological Characterization & Unconventional Reservoir Evaluation

Ongoing research related to the identification of igneous Intrusives using remote sensing data. Areas of research include the Karoo Basin, South Africa where remote sensing, gravity, and magnetics data is used to maps subsurface structures related to oil and gas plays. Integrated results used to define and evaluate the fundamental factors important to shale hydrocarbon potential in the Karoo Basin.


Co-Principal Investigator: Nuclear Forensics: DNO Analyses for Quantitative Mineral Identification.                         2015-2018

Forensic signatures for identifying processing history in nuclear forensics

Research related to the morphological changes that take place during the processing and storage of uranium oxides providing valuable information on the processing history and storage conditions of potentially interdicted samples. Modeling of the crystallographic changes in UO2 and α-U3O8related to varying environmental conditions e.g. elevated temperatures in controlled oxygen environments. Forensics signatures derived from this work are used to identify, compare, and contrast the processing history in relation to other sample signatures e.g. interdicted material.

TENORM elemental assessment of shales related to hydrocarbon production

Assessment of shale formations for TENORMS (Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials) produced via hydraulic fracturing. Research investigates the elemental composition of shale formations at the bulk and microstructural scale to better understand the relationship between major naturally occurring radioactive elements (NORM) and organic phases within shales. Both XRD and QEMSCANÒ were used to identify non-crystalline phases and provide spatial mapping of the minerals through the shale samples. In addition, XRD and QEMSCAN were used to determine the total sulfur and carbonate content as this greatly contributes to the acidity of the shale and subsequently, U and Th migration. Select samples were characterized by scanning electron microscopy – energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX) to reveal the presence of heavy metals (i.e. U, Pb) near hydrocarbon-rich regions of the shale. The NORM content and organic content were also correlated using gamma well logging.


Co-Principal Investigator: A Searchable Index and Analytics Engine for USGS and State Core Databases                   2013-2016

Optimization of oil and gas exploration data using visualization architecture

Development of visualization architecture that foregoes the ETL (exact, transform, load) process allowing quick access to multiple data sources. The architecture uses an indexing engine for accessing data with multiple schema with a series of small data analysis microservices adding intelligence to the architecture. Visualizations are designed to display and explore the data itself, as well as the structure of the data, facilitating discovery. This combination of features enables rapid prototyping of visualizations for a variety of data types, formats, and schema.