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Home | Tag Archives: Department of Geological Sciences

Tag Archives: Department of Geological Sciences

$2.1M Software Donation Furthers NMSU Geoscientists’ Research

A key part of many fields such as oil and gas exploration, mining, gas storage, carbon sequestration and geothermal energy development is being able to predict what is under the Earth’s surface.

New Mexico State University faculty and students will now be able to use cutting-edge techniques to analyze the subsurface structure of the Earth thanks to a donation of software worth more than $2.1 million from Petroleum Experts, Inc.

“We are very excited that our faculty and staff will have access to the Move software package,” said Nancy McMillan, Regents professor and department head of NMSU’s Department of Geological Sciences. “We appreciate the donation from Petroleum Experts, Inc. This will allow us to apply state-of-the-art methods of structural analysis for teaching and research.”

Reed Burgette, assistant professor of geological sciences, initiated the request for the software, and is coordinating the use of the Move software suite following the donation from Petroleum Experts, Inc.

“This software gives NMSU students the opportunity to learn skills relevant to employment in a variety of sectors,” said Burgette. “It allows users to construct 2D cross-sections as well as 3D models using available surface and subsurface geologic observations.”

A geometric model of the deformed crust can be restored to an un-deformed state to test for compatibility of the model with principles of structural geology and to understand the history of deformation through time. Additional modules of the program permit analysis of the relationships between faults and fractures and stress and strain in the deformed crust.

NMSU geological sciences faculty and students conducting research on tectonics – large-scale processes affecting the structure of the Earth’s crust – will use the software to understand the history of active and past deformation in diverse settings, including the Rio Grande rift of southern New Mexico, the Transverse Ranges of southern California and the Tien Shan Mountains of Central Asia.

“The Move software will enable faculty and students to pursue new directions in research at NMSU,” said Burgette. “This will be a great opportunity for our students to work with the kinds of 3D modeling tools they will be expected to master once they graduate and are in the workforce.”

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

UTEP Geological Sciences Team Joins US-UK Effort to Study Receding Antarctic Glacier

Researchers from The University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Geological Sciences are part of an international team participating in a multimillion-dollar, joint research program between the United States and the United Kingdom that seeks to understand how quickly a massive Antarctic glacier could collapse.

Marianne Karplus, Ph.D., Steven Harder, Ph.D., and Galen Kaip will participate in the Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME) project. They will use precision seismic, GPS and radar instrumentation to collect new data on the current behavior and future evolution of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica.

These new data will help improve computer models used to predict the future contribution of the West Antarctic ice sheet to global sea level changes. The five-year project will begin in October 2018.

“Understanding the structure and dynamics of the shear margins of Thwaites Glacier will allow us to better understand how rapidly ice flows from the Antarctic ice sheet into the ocean,” Karplus said. “Through this international research effort, we will collect new data that will improve predictions of future sea level changes. I am excited to investigate these important scientific questions with this group of highly skilled interdisciplinary scientists in one of the most remote locations on Earth.”

Thwaites Glacier has been called the “weak underbelly” of the West Antarctic ice sheet because of its potential to abruptly increase the amount of ice flowing into the ocean, significantly affecting global sea levels.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) are launching the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration (ITGC), a $25 million initiative supporting the efforts of about 100 scientists working on eight different research projects to help predict the future evolution of Thwaites Glacier and assess the sensitivity of the Antarctic ice sheet to changes in climate. The TIME project is one of those eight research projects.

Harder and Kaip have supported seismic imaging projects around the globe, including in Antarctica, Greenland and Alaska. Karplus has led seismic imaging projects on a temperate glacier in Alaska and at remote field sites in the Himalayas and Tibet, but this will be her first time working in Antarctica.

The UTEP team will contribute to high- resolution seismic imaging intended to identify sediments, fluids and other geologic structures that influence glacial dynamics. This information can then be used in numerical modeling to forecast movement with time.

 

While researchers on the ice will rely on aircraft support from U.K. and U.S. research stations, oceanographers and geophysicists will approach the glacier from the sea in U.K. and U.S. research icebreakers.

“For more than a decade, satellites have identified this area as a region of massive ice loss and rapid change. But there are still many aspects of the ice and ocean that cannot be determined from space,” said Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the lead U.S. scientific coordinator of ITGC. “We need to go there, with a robust scientific plan of activity, and learn more about how this area is changing in detail, so we can reduce the uncertainty of what might happen in the future.”

The TIME project has received $3.4 million in funding, including $2.4 million from NSF for the U.S. investigators and $1 million from NERC for the U.K. investigators. The TIME project is co-led by Slawek Tulaczyk, Ph.D, professor of physical and biological sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Poul Christoffersen, Ph.D., senior lecturer at the University of Cambridge Centre for Climate Science.

The project also includes six other researchers from the University of Oklahoma, Stanford University, the University of Leeds and the University of Cambridge.

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