A University of Utah researcher hopes her studies of rock outcrops in the Book Cliffs-San Rafael Swell area of east-central Utah will help industry locate new reservoirs of oil and gas.

Marjorie Chan was recently named a faculty fellow and awarded a $5,000 grant by the university's research committee to help her pursue her work examining changes in rock types formed during a period some 80 million years ago.During that period, much of Western North America was covered by shallow seas and temperatures were more uniform, said Chan, an associate professor of geology.

Because of their exposure, certain rock sequences in the San Rafael Swell-Book Cliffs region contain valuable evidence of geological events that occurred on a global scale, she said.

By defining the boundaries where geological changes have occurred as a result of some kind of global event, Chan said she expects to help industry predict the location and boundaries of reservoirs of oil and gas.

She also hopes to gain more understanding of how rocks were formed in areas such as Canyonlands National Park, Book Cliffs and the San Rafael Swell.