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Dr. Brian Kelley

Assistant Professor

Brian Kelley

Stratigraphy & Sedimentology, Petroleum Geoscience, Paleobiology & Paleoceanography

Office Phone: (307) 766-3385

P.O. Box 3006
Laramie, Wyoming 82071-3006
Office: Geology 309

Research Website

Professional Experience

ExxonMobil Upstream Research and Exploration, 2014-2019
Great Lakes Energy Partners (Range), 2003-2006


PhD, Stanford University, Geological Sciences, 2014
BSc, Kent State University, Geology, 2006

Student Oppportunities

I have opportunities for students in the 2020-2021 academic year. Please read through my research interests and consider applying here. Applications must be received by the department by January 15th, 2020 for full consideration. Interested students can contact me at to discuss potential projects.

Research Statement and Projects

Carbonate depositional systems are exceptional archives of Earth system processes because their development is genetically linked to tectonic, climatic, biologic, and chemical conditions. Carbonate rocks also host substantial ore deposits, water resources, and more than half of the world’s remaining hydrocarbon reserves, helping to meet the natural resource needs of a growing global population. I focus on carbonate systems to better understand fundamental Earth system processes, to improve methods for efficient and sensible utilization of natural resources, and to investigate the evolution of life on Earth. 

How do tectonic, climatic, chemical, and biological systems evolve to influence the architecture and distribution of carbonate depositional systems within sedimentary basins? To improve the understanding of controls on patterns of carbonate sedimentation, I study depositional systems that span intervals of global change. These intervals provide an opportunity to more directly link environmental mechanisms with resulting sedimentary architecture. A current research project is designed to investigate the oceanic controls that influenced the spatial and stratigraphic variability of carbonate platform morphology across the Paleozoic to Mesozoic transition.

How can the distribution and petrophysical properties of carbonate reservoirs be more effectively characterized and predicted? The fundamental properties of carbonate reservoir systems are challenging to predict in the subsurface because limestones exhibit significant facies heterogeneity and they are especially prone to diagenetic alteration. As a result, pore networks in carbonates range from km-scale caves to micron-scale pore throats. Current research projects involve the global and stratigraphic occurrence of carbonate reservoirs, rock-property characterization and prediction, and field development designs that enhance fluid flow rates and recovery factors.

How do patterns of ocean environmental change influence the spatial and temporal distribution of marine biodiversity? The magnitude and rate of environmental change have influenced the creation, retention, and depletion of marine biodiversity throughout the history of life on Earth. Reefs and other tropical benthic communities are among the most complex and diverse ecosystems, and they are the key carbonate sediment producers in marine environments. Although reef-building organisms construct massive frameworks of calcium carbonate and have excellent fossil and stratigraphic records, they also tend to be ecologically fragile and vulnerable to changes in environmental conditions. Consequently, reefs are valuable indicators of global marine ecosystem health on geologic time scales. A current research project is designed to investigate the controls on the absence of diverse reefs for millions of years following the end-Permian extinction, the pattern and timing of their recovery in the early Mesozoic, and the advent of modern-style reef ecosystems and scleractinian corals during the Middle Triassic.

Teaching Statement

I believe that students learn best in a supportive and encouraging environment that combines exposition, experiential practice, peer teaching, and group interaction. For geologists, the rocks themselves are often the best teachers, so I try to learn in the field with students as much as possible. The University of Wyoming is ideally situated to provide students with world-class opportunities in field geology. Earth science is constantly evolving, however, and advances in computational technology, data availability, and laboratory techniques have made programming and analytical skills increasingly important. As a result, I strive to help my students develop and master a broad range of skills that will make them highly competitive in modern job markets.

Recent Publications

Kelley, B.M., Lehrmann, D.J., Yu, M., Lau, K.V., Li, X, Minzoni, M., and Payne, J.L., Causes of along-strike variability in margin architecture on an isolated carbonate platform: The Great Bank of Guizhou, south China, in review.

Kelley, B.M., Lehrmann, D.J., Yu, M., Jost, A.B., Lau, K.V., Meyer, K.M., Altiner, D., Minzoni, M., Schaal, E.K., and Payne, J.L., Controls on carbonate platform architecture and reef recovery across the Paleozoic to Mesozoic transition: A high-resolution analysis of the Great Bank of Guizhou, in revision.                              

Kelley, B.M., Lehrmann, D.J., Yu, M., Minzoni, M., Enos, P., Li, X., Lau, K.V., and Payne, J.L., Field Guide: The Permian to Triassic Great Bank of Guizhou, in revision.

Fullmer, S.M., Moore, P.J., Buono, A.S., Kelley, B.M., and Gao, B. Carbonate pore system influence on hydrocarbon displacement and recovery, in press, SEPM Mountjoy Special Publication.

Lau, K.V., Maher, K., Brown, S.T., Jost, A.B., Altıner, D., DePaolo, D.J., Eisenhauer, A., Kelley, B.M., Lehrmann, D.J., Paytan, A. and Yu, M. (2017) The influence of seawater carbonate chemistry, mineralogy, and diagenesis on calcium isotope variations in Lower-Middle Triassic carbonate rocks. Chemical Geology, v. 471, p. 13-37.

Kelley, B.M., Lehrmann, D.J., Yu, M., Minzoni, M., Enos, P., Li, X., Lau, K.V., and Payne, J.L. (2017) The Late Permian to Late Triassic Great Bank of Guizhou: An isolated carbonate platform in the Nanpanjiang Basin of Guizhou Province, China. AAPG Bulletin, v. 101, p. 553-562.

Lau, K.V., Maher, K., Altiner, D., Kelley, B.M., Lehrmann, D.J., Silva-Tamayo, J.C., Weaver, K.L., Yu, M., & Payne, J.L. (2016) Marine anoxia and delayed Earth system recovery after the end-Permian extinction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, v. 113, p. 2360-2365.

Lehrmann, D.J., Bentz, J.M., Wood, T., Goers, A., Dhillon, R., Akin, S., Li, X., Payne, J.L., Kelley, B.M., Meyer, K.M. and Schaal, E.K. (2015) Environmental controls on the genesis of marine microbialites and dissolution surface associated with the end-Permian mass extinction: new sections and observations from the Nanpanjiang Basin, South China. Palaios, v. 30, p. 529-552.

Lehrmann, D.J., Chaikin, D.H., Enos, P., Minzoni, M., Payne, J.L., Yu, M., Goers, A., Wood, T., Richter, P., Kelley, B.M., Li, X., Qin, Y., Liu, L. and Lu, G. (2015) Patterns of basin fill in Triassic turbidites of the Nanpanjiang basin: implications for regional tectonics and impacts on carbonate platform evolution. Basin Research, v. 27, p. 587-612.

Minzoni, M., Lehrmann, D.J., Payne, J.L., Enos, P., Yu, M., Wei, J., Kelley, B.M., Li, X., Schaal, E. and Meyer, K. (2014) Triassic tank: Platform margin and slope architecture in space and time, Nanpanjiang Basin, south China. In: Deposits, Architecture, and Controls of Carbonate Margin, Slope, and Basinal Settings: SEPM, Special Publication (Eds T. Playton, P. Harris and K. Verwer), v. 105, p. 84-113.

Lehrmann, D.J., Minzoni, M., Li, X., Yu, M., Payne, J.L., Kelley, B.M., Schaal, E.K., and Enos, P. (2012) Lower Triassic oolites of the Nanpanjiang Basin, south China: controls on facies architecture, giant ooids, diagenesis and implications for hydrocarbon reservoirs: AAPG Bulletin, v. 96, p. 1389-1414.

Li, X., Yu, M., Lehrmann, D.J., Payne, J.L., Kelley, B.M., and Minzoni, M. (2012) Factors controlling carbonate platform asymmetry: Preliminary results from the Great Bank of Guizhou, an isolated Permian–Triassic platform in the Nanpanjiang basin, south China: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 315-316, p. 158-171.

Li, X., Yu, M., Payne, J.L, and Kelley, B.M. (2011) Comparison on Lithostratigraphy and Chemostratigraphy of Lower Triassic, the Great Bank of Guizhou, south China: Guizhou Geology, v. 28, p. 161-166.

Meyer, K.M., Yu, M., Jost, A.B., Kelley, B.M., and Payne, J.L. (2011) δ13C evidence that high primary productivity delayed recovery from end-Permian mass extinction: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 302, p. 378-384.

Feldmann, R.M., Schweitzer, C.E., Maxwell, P.A., and Kelley, B.M. (2008) Fossil isopod and decapod crustaceans from the Kowai Formation (Pliocene) near Makikihi, South Canterbury, New Zealand: New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, v. 51, p. 43-58.

Crawford, R.S., Feldmann, R.M., Waugh, D.A., Kelley, B.M., and Allen, J.G. (2006) Decapod crustaceans from the Maastrichtian Fox Hills Formation: Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, v. 47, p. 3-28.


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Department of Geology and Geophysics

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071-2000

Phone: 307-766-3386

Fax: 307-766-6679


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