FALL 2018

August 29, 2018

 “The Need for 3D Geologic Mapping and the Importance and Challenges
of a Multi-Disciplinary Approach: Case History from the Rio Grande
Rift near Taos, NM”

Dr. V.J.S. (Tien) Grauch
U.S. Geological Survey, Golden, CO

The need for 3D geologic mapping, or geologic framework models that extend from surface geologic mapping into the subsurface, is a common staple of the exploration industry, but also has been steadily growing in the government sector. Government organizations from around the world, including U.S. Federal and State geological surveys, are increasingly recognizing the value of 3D geologic maps as the underpinning for making decisions regarding natural resources, natural hazards, infrastructure planning, and environmental stewardship. Multi-disciplinary geophysics, integrated with geologic information from surface mapping and drillholes, is critical for developing the subsurface component of 3D geologic maps. Each geoscientific discipline provides a different perspective on diverse aspects of the subsurface geology that must be integrated to understand the whole picture. This integration can be challenging, requiring reconciliation of apparently conflicting information, questioning of previously established results, and outside-the-box thinking to find models that are supported and/or permitted by all data sets. A case history from Rio Grande Rift near Taos, NM illustrates the value and challenges of integrating diverse geophysical and geologic information in developing a 3D geologic model for understanding the regional groundwater system.

September 5, 2018

“Making Decisions with Imperfect Data: Implications for Research, Gravity and Magnetics,
and Inversion”

Dr. Ed Biegert, Houston, TX

Dr. Biegert recently retired after 40 years with Shell Exploration and Research, where he led the non-seismic research program.  He is a principal technical expert for non-seismic geophysics, including Operations, Surveys, Interpretations, Gravity, Magnetics, EM, MT, Radar, and Remote Sensing.

Before Shell, he crashed the Space Shuttle on purpose and taught the astronauts how to fly it.  Ask him about that experience!

September 12, 2018

“The Oceans: The Last Frontier for Terrestrial Seismology”

Dr. Guust Nolet
Princeton University & Université de la Côte d’Azur

Though more than 11,000 seismic stations report their data to the ISC, less than 500 of them are located in the open ocean.  Given that the oceans cover almost 2/3 of the Earth’s surface, this unequal sensor distribution causes severe problems for seismometry, not in the least for our efforts to image the Earth’s interior and understand the processes operating in the deep mantle.

In this talk I shall review the recent development of floating seismographs (MERMAIDS), show their performance in an experiment aimed at imaging the Galapagos mantle plume, and discuss their potential for the future, not only for geophysics and oceanography, but also for multidisciplinary monitoring efforts in the oceans that may serve biology, meteorology and geochemistry.

September 26, 2018

“Concrete and Concrete-Like Rocks: Engineered by Humans, Inspired by Nature?”

Dr. Tiziana Vanorio
Stanford Rock Physics Laboratory

Ancient concrete would seem to have little to do with volcano geophysics.  This presentation shows that the cementation of the caprock of a caldera in Southern Italy and cores of Roman-era concrete for which the region was known, require a similar set of chemical reactions to provide an intertwined sulfur-rich fibrous matrix being responsible for high ductiIity, strength, and Iow permeabiIity. While abundance in sulfur is expected in a caldera, its presence in both the matrix and lime of Roman concrete raises the question of the source.  By leveraging knowledge across geophysics, engineering and ancient literature we suggest that the lime-producing rock is cal-alkaline volcanic rock from the region rather than a typical carbonate rock.

The scientific relevance of the similarities between these two geomaterials is threefold: first, it helps explain the ability of the caldera to withstand periods of high-rate uplift and relatively low seismic efficiency; second, it unravels a chemical process that the ancient Romans may have unwittingly exploited while inspired by Earth processes from the manufacturing region; third, the use of a sulfurous, calc-alkaline rock resonates with the current knowledge in the Engineering showing that sulfur plays a critical role as a polymer and binding element in geomaterials.

Join us for a reception in the GRL Conference Room immediately following this lecture.

October 10, 2018

“Using Geophysical Tools to Characterize Pore Structure
and Flow Properties in Carbonate Rocks”

Dr. Chi Zhang
University of Kansas

The complex behavior and coupled dynamics of water and energy systems require highly integrated and innovative research strategy (sensing technology, data processing techniques, and new scalable and adaptable model) to enhance the understanding of the tightly coupled physical, chemical, and biological processes that govern the behavior of geologic media and their constituent fluids (water, brine, CO2, and hydrocarbons) from the micro- to macro-scale.  My research jointly utilizes hydrogeological, geophysical, and biogeochemical information, coupling with theoretical and numerical simulations to accurately describe the subsurface and to monitor physical, chemical, and biological processes occurring within it.

In this talk, I will provide an overview of my research on characterizing pore attributes and fluid flow properties in the subsurface and the relevant applications to water, energy, and environment.  I will describe how to estimate porosity, pore size distribution, surface area, and permeability in complex carbonate rocks from electrical geophysical measurements and nuclear magnetic resonance fro pore to field scale.  The laboratory measurements are coupled with μCT imaging and physics-based numerical simulations of pore attributes and geophysical responses to quantify petrophysical properties during various geological processes including physical and biogeochemical alternations.  The ultimate goal of my research is to facilitate the application of geophysical techniques in critical hydrogeological and energy investigations across multiple scales.  For more information, please visit

Join us for a reception in the GRL Annex immediately preceding this lecture.

October 24, 2018

“Planetary Seismology: Prospects for a
New Golden Age on Mars, Icy Ocean Worlds”

Dr. Park Panning
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cal Tech

InSight will be landing on Mars on November 26 this year, and soon after delivering the first new planetary seismic data since Apollo and Viking data from the 1970s.  Meanwhile, proposed missions to Europa and Titan also include seismic instruments.  Planetary seismology is the best way to get precise knowledge of the interior of other planetary bodies, but the challenges of doing seismology on other moons and planets are often very different than for doing seismology on Earth.  Single station techniques are vital for work on Mars, while the types of seismic signals to be found on icy ocean worlds are different than what terrestrial seismologists are used to.  We’ll talk about prospects for future seismology beyond these launched and proposed mission as well.

Join us for a reception in the GRL Annex immediately preceding this lecture.

October 31, 2018

Student Heilands

Starting this fall, the Department faculty will nominate three graduate students to make presentations about their current research, that would be of interest to the Department and to the greater geoscience community.  Those students will give their presentations, followed by a short question-and-answer period.

This series of talks will be followed by a Post-Heiland Reception in the GRL Conference Room, near the Mines Geology Museum.

“Fluid Flow Coupled Inversion of Time-Lapse Gravity Data
for Reservoir Properties”
Joe Capriotti, PhD Candidate

Understanding reservoir properties plays a key role in managing a reservoir’s resources and optimizing production. History matching is an important means to characterizing those properties. We develop a method to invert for the distribution of permeability and porosity directly from time-lapse gravity data. In this process, we use fluid-flow in porous medium coupled with forward modeling of the time-lapse gravity response as the forward operator, and then solve a non-linear inversion to reconstruct the property distributions in the reservoir. The inversion can combine the information from time-lapse gravity and injection-production data sets to determine a static state of the reservoir described by permeability and porosity. The resulting model satisfies all data sets simultaneously while obeying the mechanics of fluid flow through porous medium.

“Reservoir Transport and Poroelastic Properties from
Oscillating Pore Pressure Experiments”
Azar Hasanov, PhD Candidate

Knowledge of hydraulic and poroelastic properties is essential for simulating fluid flow and deformation in porous media.  Accurate simulations are used to estimate production volumes, rates, and economics.  In this study we document the value of the oscillating pore pressure experiment for simultaneously determining hydraulic and poroelastic properties of porous materials.  We completed experiments on four conventional reservoir rock quality samples at a range of oscillation frequencies (0.001 – 1 Hz) and effective stresses (3.5 – 65 MPa).  We document that hydraulically measured storage capacities are overestimated by approximately one order of magnitude when compared to elastically derived ones.  Comparison of the Biot coefficient estimated both from hydraulic and strain data reveals the ambiguity of the storage capacity measurements.  We also introduce a novel method, which allowed us to estimate the permeability from the full range of frequency data using a nonlinear least-squares regression.  Numerical simulations of the oscillatory fluid flow confirms the processes driving the experimental results.

“3D Waveform Inversion of Microseismic Data in VTI Media
Oscar Jarillo Michel, PhD Candidate

Waveform inversion (WI) can be used to solve two of the main problems in microseismic monitoring, event location, and velocity determination.  The advantage of this approach lies in the opportunity to employ the phase and amplitude information contained in the seismograms.  In this talk, I will briefly review a 3D methodology for multiparameter estimation from borehole data in VTI media, and illustrate it with a few synthetic examples.  I will also show preliminary results of applying this 3D methodology to a field data set, including data preparation and gradient calculation using adjoint tomography.

November 7, 2018

“Seismic Full Waveform Inversion for
Fundamental Scientific and Industrial Problems”

Dr. Satish Singh
Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France

Seismic waveform inversion is a powerful method used to quantify the elastic property of the subsurface. Although the development of seismic waveform inversion started in the early 1980s and was applied to solve scientific problems, it became popular in industry only about 15 years ago. One of the key elements in the success of seismic waveform inversion has been the increase of the acquisition of long offset seismic data from 3 km in the early 1990s to more than 15 km today. Not only did long offset data provide refraction arrivals, but it also allowed recording of wide-angle reflections, including critical angles, providing unique information about the subsurface geology.

In this talk, I will elaborate on the early development of the seismic full waveform inversion (FWI) and its application to solve fundamental scientific problems. The first big success of FWI was its application to gas hydrate reflections, also known as bottom simulating reflection (BSR), which showed that the BSRs are mainly due the presence of a small amount of free methane gas, not a large amount of hydrates stored above the BSR, and hence the total amount of methane stored in marine sediments should be much less than previously estimated. A second major success of FWI was its application to quantify the characteristics of the axial melt lens observed beneath ocean spreading centers. The seismic full waveform inversion results show that one can distinguish between pure melt and partially molten mush within a 50 m thick melt lens, allowing to link the melt delivery from the mantle with the hydrothermal circulation on the seafloor. The application of full waveform inversion to spreading center problems has become an important area of research.

Join us for a reception in the GRL Annex immediately preceding this lecture.

November 13, 2018

“An Unconventional View of Geoscience”

David Gray
Senior Geophysical Advisor, CNOOC International
2018-2019 CSEG Distinguished Lecturer

The world needs geoscientists. The American Geoscience Institute predicted a need for about 10% more geoscientists in 2024 relative to 2014, but this was before industry layoffs (Status of the Geoscience Workforce 2016). The number of layoffs and workforce demographics likely means a greater need for geoscientists to do the work that will be required. Resulting jobs will be spread across all industries, including: scientific services, mining, oil and gas, agriculture, education, government, etc.

In the western world, industries that traditionally employ geoscientists are being criticized for their practices. You can address these issues by promoting the value of the geoscience you are learning, especially to friends and family. Think outside the box when presented with opportunities to show what geoscience can do. This lecture shows some examples of how to use this unconventional view of geoscience to benefit society, your employers, and your peers. I will give examples of my successful use of unconventional geoscience, including: protection of the environment; creation of new technologies for prediction of fractures, oil reservoir production, and geomechanics; and, effective use of social media. All these employ knowledge and experience gained from my geoscience education and career. Your geoscience education and experience can also be used in your own unconventional ways to enrich society.

December 5, 2018

“Ground-Penetrating Radar from Archaeological Studies – From the New World to the Old”

Dr. John Bradford
Professor and Head
Colorado School of Mines Department of Geophysics

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a well-established method for archaeological investigation.  In some cases, the impact goes well beyond the historical information or scientific insight that GPR can provide.  I will illustrate this broader impact through two different types of studies.  First, I will describe the mapping of unmarked graves, with a focus on a 19th century Chinese cemetery located in Hailey, Idaho.  Thousands of Chinese immigrants traveled to Idaho during the gold mining boom in the latter half of the 19th century.  In the former mining town of Hailey, a separate section of the cemetery was established to accommodate Chinese laborers.  In the 1930’s, a fire destroyed the wooden grave markers in the Chinese section of the cemetery.  As part of an effort to establish a memorial recognizing the contributions of these workers, a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey was commissioned in 2009 to identify the graves so that permanent markers could be placed.  The GPR survey identified 120 unmarked graves in the Chinese section of the cemetery.  Efforts are underway to place markers on these gravesites and to raise funds for a permanent memorial to the Chinese laborers.  The second study is in support of a traditional archaeological investigation known as the Libarna Urban Landscapes Project (LULP).  LULP is using non-invasive techniques to identify buried structures in the Roman city of Libarna, Piedmont, Italy.  In particular, we are combining GPR and drone photography to map the buried remains of the city.  GPR has imaged numerous structures that are likely of Roman origin and uncovered some mysterious features that have yet to be explained.  These data will be used to develop an excavation plan for future field work.  The nearby Italian village of Arquata Scrivia is hoping that publicity about the site will bring tourists to revive its sagging economy.

SPRING 2018 

January 10, 2018

“Scalable seismic monitoring with fiber optics beneath our feet”

Eileen Martin, Ph.D. Candidate
Geophysics Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Continuously recording, dense seismic arrays could help us better understand earthquake and landslide hazards, permafrost thaw, our hydrological cycle, and near surface changes at energy production sites. But such arrays have typically been expensive to maintain long-term and are logistically difficult to install in populated areas. We combine two methods to make continuous subsurface monitoring significantly cheaper: estimating wave equation Green’s functions from random vibration recordings in the area of interest, and measuring vibrations as meter-scale strain rate profiles along fiber optic cables. In addition, the continuously recorded data from fiber optics can be used to analyze ground motion during earthquakes. 

These methods can make continuous high-resolution subsurface imaging a possibility where it was previously impossible, but there are several challenges I will address: (i) algorithms must be modified for real-time analysis of streaming data from many sensors, (ii) the theory for Green’s function estimation must be altered to account for new sensors measuring tensor strain rates as opposed to particle velocity vectors or pressure scalars, and (iii) existing Green’s function estimation theory assumes independent, uncorrelated vibration sources (which is far from the reality of urban and infrastructure noise sources). These issues will be shown in the context of two data sets: a buried fiber array near a road in Alaska for monitoring permafrost thaw, and a fiber network in existing telecom conduits under the Stanford campus for earthquake hazard analysis. The fundamental issues behind working with noisy, streaming data for weak signal detection, imaging and inverse problems are common to a wide range of Earth science problems.

January 17, 2018

 “Advanced imaging for practitioners”

Dr. William W. Symes
Rice University, Houston, TX

Seismic migration has been a core geophysical technology for more than 50 years and continues to evolve in its capacity to reveal detailed quantitative information about the sedimentary earth. Integration of ever more accurate and complete seismic wave physics, more precise numerical methods, and rapidly improving computer hardware and software environments have made formerly “advanced” methods such as prestack reverse time migration (RTM) relatively routine.

This lecture will discuss two variants of RTM aimed at enhancing the significance of image amplitudes. Both true amplitude migration and least squares migration (LSM) are being actively researched; singly and in combination, they have many applications, some surprising. I will describe a number of these applications and illustrate them using synthetic and field data examples.

January 24, 2018

“Apprenticeship programs to foster student’s professional development”

Dr. Hendratta Ali
Associate Professor of Geosciences (Petroleum Geology)

Geoscience related disciplines serve interests in various applied fields and provide unique opportunities for learning in a variety of settings including; classroom, laboratory, outdoors, and internships. However, challenges persist in our ability to engage incoming students whose first encounter with geosciences and related fields often occur in college. Few students have experience with, or the opportunity to engage with apprenticeships. Unlike other learning opportunities, apprenticeships, take students out of the classroom into a professional environment early in a student’s tenure. Industry supported geosciences apprenticeship programs (GAP) offer the possibility to inspire and foster development early in students.

GAP is highly successful for students, companies/organizations (supervisor/mentor), and academic departments/programs. For a student, GAP enhances the academic experience, promotes retention, and increases degree attainment. Sponsors grow a larger pool of qualified applicants who are ready to fill high-skilled positons. GAP benefits academic departments with information related to local and general industry trends, the needs and expectations of potential employers. GAP aids in curriculum development/enhancement, as students and mentor surveys provide valuable information that can be leveraged to improve curricula and help departments address critical skills needed in the work place. Ultimately, with GAP graduates at all levels are better prepared to meet the demands of industry or further education.

This presentation will describe best practices, stakeholder (faculty, student, professional supervisor/mentor) roles and summarize our experience implementing the apprenticeship program at FHSU. It will end with examples of the benefits of apprenticeships in learning, research and professional development.

January 31, 2018

“New Frontiers of Planetary Seismology”

Dr. Philippe Lognonné
Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris
Université Paris Diderot-Sorbonne Paris Cité, France

About 45 years ago seismology started its escape from Earth, with not only the first successful installation of a seismometer on the Moon by the Apollo missions but also with the first observations of seismic waves in the ionosphere, 250 km or more above Earth surface.  Our journey to today’s research at these frontiers of seismology will start with the Moon and the 40 years old Apollo data and will then move to Mars and finally Venus or Europa, both targets of concept studies for the 2020-2030.  We first present the most recent results obtained in the re-processing of the Apollo data since 2000: re-estimation of the lunar crustal thickness, discovery of the Lunar core reflected seismic waves, characterization of the dynamics of the deep moon quake and impacts.

We then move to Mars, where data will wait for the launch in May 2018 of the NASA InSight mission, which will carry to the Martian surface a 3 axis Very Broad Band and a 3 axis Short Period seismometer. We present the scientific perspectives of the mission and the technical challenges associated to the robotic installation of VBB instruments in an hostile and windy environment.

We then conclude with possible future missions in planetary seismology, which concepts are presently worked by the international Planetary seismology. These might either enable the seismic discovery of new bodies, like Euopa, one of the icy moon of Jupiter with an underground ocean, Venus, with remote sensing perspectives based on airglow observations, asteroides or might lead to the deployment of a new seismic network on the Moon.

February 14, 2018

“What can the data science revolution do for geoscience?”

Dr. Andrew Valentine, Australian National University

The modern world is built on machine learning and data science: an explosion of research activity has resulted in mathematical tools that underpin financial trading, enable self-driving cars, and help you select films on Netflix. Supporting this is a wealth of innovative research within the fields of statistics and computer science. How can these ideas benefit geoscience?

In this talk I will highlight a variety of areas where ideas borrowed from data science have enabled something fundamentally new—from data processing through to earthquake early warning. Geoscience is data-rich, but we often cannot directly observe the systems we care about: we must work with incomplete, sometimes contradictory measurements made at the Earth’s surface and at the present time. The tools of machine learning are designed to help untangle this kind of puzzle, and will allow new insights into the workings of our planet.

February 21, 2018

“Earth’s Rock and Roll: Understanding rotational ground motions”

Dr. Heiner Igel
Professor of Seismology, Department of Earth Sciences
Ludwig-Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany

When the ground shakes from earthquakes, the oceans, or the atmosphere, it not only translates (up-down, sideways), but also undergoes rotational motions. To fully characterize seismic sources and wave fields theoreticians have insisted for decades that these motions should also be measured. However, this was hampered by the substantial technical difficulties in observing rotational motions with the necessary sensitivity. This implies that the observation of the complete ground motion is still an unsolved problem. Based on pilot studies using ring laser technology we built the first-ever large 4-component ring laser system that measures (combined with a broadband seismometer) the complete 6C ground motions. The sensitivity is such that even ocean generated noise and free oscillations can be observed. In addition we initiated the construction of the first 6C portable broadband rotation sensor. We provide answer to the question why it might be very useful to observe the complete motions, what the impact is on seismic inverse problems, why there are interesting applications for ocean bottom seismometry and earthquake engineering.

February 28, 2018

“The 3-D Magnetotelluric Array Revolution – Insights into the role of hydrous and magmatic fluids in continental evolution and natural hazards at convergent margins, along hotspot traces, at the passive margin and in the continental interior”

Dr. Adam Schultz
Professor of Geophysics, Oregon State University & Chief Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Substantial advances in 3-D inversion of electromagnetic induction data over the past decade-and-a-half, coupled with sustained support for large-scale 3-D magnetotelluric (MT) array data acquisition efforts have produced a remarkable legacy of MT data and derived data products, and of an emerging canon of 3-D views of crust and mantle electrical conductivity structure. For the past thirteen years, Oregon State University has been the lead institution for the NSF EarthScope MT Program, responsible for acquiring data from approximately 1000 long-period MT stations covering (to-date) on a 70-km interstation grid spanning more than 60% of the territory of the Conterminous US. Also under NSF EarthScope, MARGINS/GEOPRISMS and US Department of Energy Support, OSU and its collaborators have acquired high-resolution, targeted MT array data along the Cascadia margin (both onshore and offshore), in the southern Washington Cascades volcanic arc, at Yellowstone supervolcano, and a 4-D dataset including MT data from an enhanced geothermal stimulation effort at Newberry volcano in central Oregon. We have also acquired a unique, combined MT-ionospheric data set from more than two months of synchronous observations over a wide area in the interior of Alaska. In today’s Heiland Lecture, key insights into the role of fluids in the evolution of each of these differing tectonic settings will be presented, drawn from 3-D inverse models produced by researchers from various institutions that are involved in each of these projects. The serendipitous discovery that knowledge of the 3-D electrical structure of the crust and mantle plays an important role in assessing the vulnerability of the electric power grid to the effects of space weather and to risks from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) events will also be introduced.

March 7, 2018

“Conservation of Information in Proteins, Software, Music, Texts, the Universe and Chocolate boxes”

Dr. Les Hatton
Emeritus Professor of Forensic Software Engineering at Kingston University

Charles Darwin, jointly with Alfred Russell Wallace, introduced their theory of Natural Selection at the Linnean Society on 1st July 1858.  Today, it defines evolutionary thought through and beyond the discovery of the double helix in 1953 and the development of modern genetics.  However, there are features of life, for example the recently-discovered remarkable constancy of average protein length, the existence of surprisingly long proteins and why protein length distributions are identical to distributions of computer functions, which it does not explain.  Some hints come from the physical sciences, thanks to a remarkable theorem by Emmy Noether in 1918, whereby for the first time we understood that the grand Conservation principles of the universe such as Conservation of Energy, Linear Momentum, Angular Momentum and so on, were actually the result of symmetries.

In this talk, using concepts from Information Theory, Statistical Mechanics and with the singular help of a box of chocolates, we will demonstrate that large assemblies of discrete pieces at any scale, be they proteins (made from amino acids), pieces of software (made from textual symbols), words in books, letters in words, the Bach chorales (made from musical notes) or the distribution of elements in the known universe, have important organising principles in common deriving from a previously unsuspected Conservation principle which controls these phenomena.

In short, all systems built from discrete pieces are guided by the Conservation of Hartley-Shannon Information, and a corresponding symmetry, scale.  Finally, we will speculate on the incidence of post-translational modification of amino acids in proteins and (wildly) speculate on the nature of dark material in the universe before a grand finale where we reveal that Elvis is hiding in a yeast.

March 14, 2018

“The digital model revolution in petroleum geophysics”

Dr. Bill Abriel
Orinda Geophysical, SEG Past President

This presentation is intended to illustrate, by example, how digital earth models have revolutionized the practice of applied geophysics in petroleum management and predicts the road ahead for geophysicists. The talk tracks the evolution and future of the use of the necessary conceptual, mathematical and digital subsurface models. Examples of past, current and future model paradigms are illustrated for defining structure, stratigraphy, fluid dynamics and geomechanics.
Numerical models of the subsurface are used extensively for model-based processing, property prediction and subsurface simulation. They are foundational in their ability to communicate concepts, illustrate results, and simulate the subsurface physics to match field observations. The ability to capture realistic geology and simulate the geophysical response has advanced significantly in the past ten years, and will be illustrated by many examples. Models have always been at the core of the subsurface interpretation and analysis process, but with easier, better and faster numerical representations they now play an even greater role and are likely to become the primary method for managing the subsurface.

March 21, 2018

April 11, 2018

Heiland Lecture, James Clark

April 18, 2018

Heiland Lecture Susan Hubbard

April 25, 2018