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Photo of Dr Ricardo Ferreira Louro Silva

Dr Ricardo Ferreira Louro Silva

Research Associate


Our knowledge of past, present, and future environments is limited by our partial comprehension regarding the influence of oceans and organic carbon on the Earth system. I am drawn to fundamental research questions meeting at the intersection of sedimentology, geobiology, paleoclimatology and paleoenvironments while also driving our understanding concerning the role of oceans in the current scenario of anthropogenic disruption of climate. My research focuses on the physical, geochemical, and biological controls on the production and preservation of terrestrial and marine organic matter and disruption of biogeochemical cycles at a wide range of time scales and their impacts on climate and environments. I apply a broad array of sedimentological, paleontological, palynological, geochemical, and petrophysical tools to the study of terrestrial to marine depositional systems and paleoenvironments generally characterized by sediments rich in organic matter. 

I am an Earth Scientist with a broad background in sedimentology, stratigraphy, geochemistry, paleontology, and geobiology. I am particularly interested in understanding the complex chain of events, processes, and feedback mechanisms leading to the so-called oceanic anoxic events (OAEs), i.e. brief intervals in the geological history where significant portions of the oceans were deoxygenated (Schlanger and Jenkyns 1976). OAEs in the deep time occur in association with (1) large perturbations of the carbon, sulphur, nitrogen, and water cycles, (2) climatic and environmental extremes, (3) biotic disruptions and mass extinctions, and (4) enhanced sequestration of organic matter in terrestrial and marine environments (Jenkyns, 2010; Silva et al., 2017, in review). I am also interested in other, less severe, carbon cycle perturbation episodes in the Phanerozoic, such as the Sinemurian–Pliensbachian (Silva and Duarte 2015), Bathonian–Callovian (Silva et al. 2020a), or the Lower Cretaceous (Silva et al. 2020b). Contrary to OAEs, these intervals record sub-lethal revolutions in Earth's environments, although associated with major changes in oceanic carbon dynamics. 

Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Early Jurassic Earth System & Timescale (JET) research project, led by the University of Exeter (Camborne School of Mines) and funded by the ICDP and NERC. I am also an Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie University (Canada). Before this, I held the positions of Postdoctoral Fellow at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) and Assistant Professor (sessional) and Postdoctoral Fellow at Dalhousie University (Canada). I graduated in 2013 with a PhD in Geology (stratigraphy and paleontology) from the University of Coimbra (Portugal). I am the recipient of the Merit Bursary from the University of Coimbra and I was awarded an individual PhD fellowship from the Science and Technology Foundation (Portugal).



Rodrigues, B., Silva, R.L., Mendonça Filho, J.G., Reolid, M., Sadki, D., Comas-Rengifo, M.J., Goy, A., Duarte, L.V., The Phytoclast Group as a tracer of palaeoenvironmental changes in the early Toarcian. The Geological Society of London Special Publications


Silva, R.L., Duarte, L.V., Wach, G., Morrison*, N., Campbell*, T., 2020. Oceanic organic carbon as a possible first-order control on the carbon cycle during the Bathonian–Callovian. Global and Planetary Change 184, 103058

Silva, R.L., Wach, G., Hesselbo, S., O’Connor, D., 2020. Total organic carbon and Rock-Eval characterisation of the Lower Cretaceous in Compton Bay and Atherfield Bay, Isle of Wight (England). Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, 131(1), 51-59

Rodrigues, B.*, Silva, R.L., Mendonça Filho, J.G., Driss, S., Mendonça, J.O., Duarte, L.V., 2020. Late Pliensbachian–Early Toarcian palaeoenvironmental dynamics and the Pliensbachian–Toarcian Event in the Middle Atlas Basin (Morocco). International Journal of Coal Geology, 217, 103339

Rodrigues, B.*, Silva, R.L., Mendonça Filho, J.G., Comas-Rengifo, M.J., Goy, A., Duarte, L.V., 2020. Kerogen assemblages and δ13CKerogen of the uppermost Pliensbachian–lower Toarcian succession of the Asturian Basin (northern Spain). International Journal of Coal Geology, 103573

Rodrigues, B.*, Duarte, L.V., Silva, R.L., Mendonça Filho, J.G., Driss, S., Mendonça, J.O., 2020. Sedimentary organic matter and early Toarcian environmental changes in the Lusitanian Basin (Portugal). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 554, 109781


Rodrigues, B.*, Silva, R.L., Reolid, M., Mendonça Filho, J.G., Duarte, L.V., 2019. Sedimentary organic matter and δ13CKerogen variation on the southern Iberian palaeomargin (Betic Cordillera, SE Spain) during the latest Pliensbachian–Early Toarcian. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 534, 109342

Sêco, S.R.L.*, Silva, R.L., Watson, N., Duarte, L.V., Pereira, A.J.S.C., Wach, G., 2019. Application of petrophysical methods to estimate total organic carbon in Lower Jurassic source rocks from the offshore Lusitanian Basin (Portugal). Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 180, 1058-1068


O’Connor, D.*, Silva, R.L., Wach, G., 2018. Earliest sedimentological evidence for marine ingressions in the eastern North American rift system, Central Atlantic Margin. Lithosphere 10(6), 783-791

Sêco*, S.L.R., Duarte L.V., Pereira, A.S.C., Silva, R.L., 2018. Field gamma-ray patterns and stratigraphic reinterpretation of well-log offshore data from Lower Jurassic organic-rich units of the Lusitanian Basin (Portugal). Marine and Petroleum Geology 98, 860-872


Silva, R.L., Carlisle, C.*, Wach, G. 2017. The carbon isotopic record of the Lower Jurassic in the Slyne Basin (Ireland). Marine and Petroleum Geology, 86, 499-511

Di Maggio, R.M., Donnelly, L.J., Al Naimi, K.S., Barone, P.M., Da Silva Salvador, F.A., Dawson, L., Dixon, R., Fitzpatrick, R., Gradusova, O., Nesterina, E., Peleneva, M., Ushacova, O., Gallego, C.M.M., Pirrie, D.l., Ruffell, A.m., McKinley, J., Sagripanti, G., Villalba, D., Schneck, B., Sugita, R., Wach, G., Silva, R., Forbes, S. 2017. Global developments in forensic geology, Episodes, 40(2), 120-131

Duarte, L.V., Silva, R.L., Félix, F., Comas-Rengifo, M.J., Rocha, R.B., Mattioli, E., Paredes, R.*, Mendonça Filho, J.G. 2017. The Jurassic of the Peniche Peninsula (Portugal): from the scientific relevance to the educational and science popularization impact. Rev Soc Geológica de España, 30, 55-70

Duarte L.V., Mattioli, E., Rocha, R.B., Silva, R.L., 2017. The Lower Jurassic at Peniche (Lusitanian Basin): recent advances in Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Geology. Earth Sci Journal 19 (1), 2017, 35-51


Silva, R.L., Duarte, L.V., 2015. Organic matter production and preservation in the Lusitanian Basin and Late Pliensbachian climatic hot snaps. Global and Planetary Change, 131, 24–34

Silva, R.L., Duarte, L.V., Comas-Rengifo, 2015. Chapter 13. Carbon isotope chemostratigraphy of Lower Jurassic carbonate deposits, Lusitanian Basin (Portugal): Implications and limitations to the application in sequence stratigraphic studies. In: Ramkumar, M. (Ed). Chemostratigraphy: concepts, techniques, and applications. Elsevier, pp. 341-371.

Silva, R.L., Wong, C.*, Wach, G., 2015. Source Rocks and Petroleum Systems of the Scotian Basin. CSEG Recorder, 40(8), 22-27

Cabral, M.C., Colin, J-P., Azerêdo, A.C., Silva, R.L., Duarte, L.V., 2015. Brackish and marine ostracode assemblages from the Sinemurian of western Portugal, with description of new species. Micropaleontology, 61, 3-24

Campbell, T.J.*, Richards, F.W., Silva, R.L., Wach, G., Eliuk, L., 2015. Interpretation of the Penobscot 3D Seismic Volume Using Constrained Sparse Spike Inversion, Sable sub-Basin, Offshore Nova Scotia. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 68(A), 73–93


Silva, R.L., Mendonça Filho, J.G., Azerêdo, A.C., Silva, T.F., Duarte, L.V., 2014. Palynofacies and TOC analysis of marine and non-marine sediments across the Middle-Upper Jurassic boundary in the central-northern Lusitanian Basin (Portugal). Facies, 60, 255–276

Duarte, L. V., Comas-Rengifo, M. J., Silva, R.L., Paredes, R.*, Goy, A., 2014. Carbon isotope stratigraphy and ammonite biochronostratigraphy across the Sinemurian-Pliensbachian boundary in the western Iberian margin. Bulletin of Geosciences, 89, 719–736


Silva, R.L., Duarte, L.V., Mendonça Filho, J.G, 2013. Optical and geochemical characterization of Upper Sinemurian (Lower Jurassic) fossil wood from the Lusitanian Basin (Portugal). Geochem J, 47, 489–498.

Poças Ribeiro, N.*, Mendonça Filho, J.G., Duarte, L.V., Silva, R.L., Mendonça, J.O., Silva, T.F., 2013. Palynofacies and Organic Geochemistry of the Sinemurian carbonate deposits in the western Lusitanian Basin (Portugal): Coimbra and Água de Madeiros Formations. International Journal of Coal Geology, 111, 37–52


Silva, R.L., Mendonça Filho, J.G., da Silva, F.S., Duarte, L.V., Silva, T.F., Ferreira, R.*, Azerêdo, A.C. 2012. Can biogeochemistry aid in the palaeoenvironmental/early diagenesis reconstruction of the ~187 Ma (Pliensbachian) organic-rich hemipelagic series of the Lusitanian Basin (Portugal)?. Bulletin of Geosciences, 87, 373–382

Duarte, L.V., Silva, R.L., Mendonça Filho, J.G., Poças Ribeiro, N.*, Chagas, R.B.A.*, 2012. High-resolution stratigraphy, Palynofacies and source rock potential of the Água de Madeiros Formation (Upper Sinemurian) of the Lusitanian Basin, Portugal. Journal of Petroleum Geology, 35 (2), 105–126

Correia, G.G.*, Duarte, L.V., Pereira, A., Silva, R.L., 2012. Outcrop gamma-ray spectrometry: Applications to the Sinemurian–Pliensbachian organic-rich facies of the Lusitanian Basin (Portugal). Journal of Iberian Geology, 38 (2), 373-388


Silva, R.L., Duarte, L.V., Comas-Rengifo, M.J., Mendonça Filho, J.G., Azerêdo, A.C., 2011. Update of the carbon and oxygen isotopic records of the Early–Late Pliensbachian (Early Jurassic, ~187 Ma): Insights from the organic-rich hemipelagic series of the Lusitanian Basin (Portugal). Chemical Geology, 283, 177–184.


Azerêdo, A.C., Silva, R.L., Duarte, L.V., Cabral, M.C., 2010. Subtidal stromatolites from the Sinemurian of the Lusitanian Basin (Portugal). Facies, 56, 211–230

Duarte, L.V., Silva, R.L., Oliveira, L.C.V., Comas-Rengifo, M.J., Silva, F., 2010. Organic-rich facies in the Sinemurian and Pliensbachian of the Lusitanian Basin, Portugal: Total Organic Carbon distribution and relation to transgressive-regressive facies cycles. Geologica Acta, 8 (3), 325-340