Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

Department of Geological Sciences

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Research Meeting 04  Preliminary plans for the 2004 Research Meeting, field trips, and short course/workshop are posted on the private side under Meetings and the Calendar. The meeting will be held in the vicinity of Salt Lake City.

NW Highlands field area

Guide to the Highlands

Jackson Fellowship

Bureau Senior Research Scientist Steve Laubach is the recipient of an appointment to a John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Research Fellowship for 2003-04.

The income from the fellowship will be used to promote fundamental research on fractures and structural diagenesis and to support student projects underway in Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, and Scotland.

Steve will be traveling in Asia on an SPE Distinguished Lecture tour during November, 2003.

Houston FRAC Workshop January 30, 2004

Student fracture research in the UT departments of Geological Sciences and Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering will be featured at a FRAC workshop scheduled for Friday, January 30, 2004, at the Bureau of Economic Geology's Core Research Center in Houston. The meeting is planned to last from 10 am to 3 pm, with lunch provided. A provisional list of talks and poster presentations is posted on the private side under Meetings. The workshop will also feature an update on automated intensity acquisition and a core viewing and tour of the core facility. Members are welcome. For more information please contact Jon Holder or Julia Gale in Austin, or Bev DeJarnett in Houston. 10/29/03

Update: See What's New on the private side or contact Steve Laubach or Jon Holder for the latest information on this meeting, which has been postponed until later in 2004. Note that the FRAC Research Meeting is tentatively scheduled for July, 2004.12/11/03

Rock Mechanics Symposium June 2004

Senior Research Scientist Steve Laubach is organizing a session on "Faults, Fractures, and Fractured Rock Behavior" for the 2004 North American Rock Mechanics Symposium scheduled for June 2004 in Houston. Gulf Rocks '04, the 6th North American Rock Mechanics Symposium (NARMS), is hosted by the American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA) in association with the Canadian Rock Mechanics Association (CARMA) and La Socledad Mexicana de Mecanica de Rocas (SMMR). Several industry members of FRAC are involved in the meeting.

See the GulfRocks 04 web site for more information.

A Call for Papers for the symposium and a list of technical sessions can be found by clicking here.  The abstract deadline is October 31. 10/23/03          

Image: Fracture Traces,

Cambrian sandstone, NW Scotland

FRAC Staff to Present AAPG School

  Steve Laubach, Randy Marrett, Jon Olson, and Sergey Fomel of the Fracture Research and Application Consortium (FRAC) will conduct an AAPG Fractured Reservoir Characterization and Modeling school in Austin, Texas, on November 10–14. Click here for more details. 11/05/03
Cathodoluminescence (CL) images generated by the Fracture Research and Application Consortium have recently received recognition from the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM). The cover of the November 2003 Journal of Sedimentary Research features an image from the article "Quantification of brittle deformation in burial compaction, Frio and Mount Simon formation sandstones" by Astrid Makowitz and Kitty L. Milliken that appears in that issue. Another CL image of a Frio sandstone sample photographed by Astrid Makowitz won the November 2003 Student Photo Contest sponsored by SEPM. It is displayed on the front page of the SEPM Website. 11/06/03  
Cathodoluminescence image combining RGB filter images of the Oligocene Frio sandstone from 4761 m depth.

Experimental Diagenesis Seminar

Dick Larese presented Impact of Experimental Diagenetic Simulations in the Evaluation of Sandstone Reservoir Quality on Wednesday October 22, at 3 p.m. in Rm 3.116, Department of Geological Sciences. Dick is collaborating with us on research on interactions of mechanical and diagenetic processes.

A tour of the PGE experimental rock mechanics facility and a planning meeting for our research program will be conducted Wednesday morning.

Above: CL image of quartz cement on sand grain. Contact Kitty Milliken or Rob Lander for more information about the seminar or tour.

Fracture Intensity Seminar

Leonel Gomez presented recent scaling and fracture intensity results at noon on Wednesday October 22 at the Hard Rock Seminar at the Department of Geological Sciences.


Margaretha (Peggy) Rijken from UT's Department of Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering was Friday's seminar speaker on January 31, 2003. The title of her presentation was Predicting Fracture Attributes in the Travis Peak Formation using Quantitative Mechanical Modeling and Structural Diagenesis. [Abstract]

Students, Members, Texas Exes, and Friends—Picnic 2003

Saturday October 25

Join us on Lake Travis, meet new students in the program. This year's event is being offered jointly with Geocosm.

A discussion of the Jackson School structural diagenesis initiative will be scheduled during the morning of the 25th. Anyone interested in this initiative is welcome to attend. [10 a/m]

                                                                                                   A scene from last year's picnic.

For more information contact the organizing committee: Leonel Gomez, Peggy Rijken, Laura Net, or John Hooker.

Directions to the picnic site under Meetings on the private side of Frac City or from the organizing committee.  09/19/03


Julia Gale traveled to Midland in early October to discuss case studies with Marathon and Tom Brown, Inc.

Julia also participated in the West Texas Geological Society Meeting, presenting results of the ongoing DOE Barnhart study. 09/30/03

Ecopetrol Visitor

Alberto Ortiz Fernandez from Ecopetrol spent several days in Austin in early October, reviewing FRAC research and discussing collaborative studies. 09/30/03

DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal

The DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal recognizes distinguished and outstanding service to SPE, the professions of engineering and geology, and the petroleum industry.

Larry W. Lake, a participant in FRAC and professor at the U. of Texas (UT) at Austin for more than 24 years, is honored for his many contributions to the advancement of enhanced-oil-recovery research. Currently holding the W.A. (Monty) Moncrief Centennial Chair in Petroleum Engineering, Lake was Chairperson of UT's Dept. of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering during 1989-97 and previously held the W.A. (Tex) Moncrief Jr. Centennial Endowed Chair in Petroleum Engineering and the Shell Distinguished Chair. He is a recipient of the Billy and Claude R. Hocott Distinguished Engineering Research Award; a member of the Natl. Academy of Engineering; and the author, coauthor, or editor of more than 100 technical papers, three textbooks, and three bound volumes. Before teaching at UT, he worked for Shell Development Co. in Houston.

Lake, a former SPE Director At-Large, has served as a member and chairperson of numerous SPE committees since joining the Society in 1974. He currently teaches an SPE Short Course on enhanced-oil-recovery fundamentals and is a Technical Editor on the Editorial Committee. Lake recently toured as an SPE 2002-03 Distinguished Lecturer on the topic of using simulation models to predict uncertainty. His SPE award credits include the Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty, Distinguished Service Award, Reservoir Engineering Award, and Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal. Lake holds a BS degree from Arizona State U. and a PhD degree from Rice U., both in chemical engineering. 09/16/03.

Subthrust Fracture Patterns

Three new case studies are underway that are aimed at characterizing fractures in subthrust settings. These outcrop-based studies will focus on fracture patterning, intensity, and the relation between large and small fractures. The studies will also serve as tests for our developing automated image capture system.

The photograph shows a FRAC field party (Laubach, Marrett, Gomez) en route to a subthrust exposure in western Wyoming.

See the Case Studies section of the web site for more information. 09/10/03

Virginia Martinez Cal, a geologist with RepsolYPF, recently spent three days at the Bureau working with the Fracture Research and Application Consortium on techniques for the characterization of deeply buried, fractured siliciclastic reservoirs. 08/25/03  

The FRAC 2003 Summer Research Meeting began with a field trip July 19–20 and continued with technical presentations and discussion on July 21–22 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Agenda, presentations, and background material are posted on the Members site.

Among the issues addressed:
• What are fracture patterns at the trap scale?
• What is the correct mechanical explanation for fracture spacing patterns?

• How does interaction of diagenesis and fracturing govern effective permeability?
• Can calibration advance seismic fracture characterization? 07/11/0

Dr. Stephen Laubach has been named a Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Distinguished Lecturer for 2003–2004. The title of his presentation is "Fractures in Reservoirs: Prediction, Characterization, and Incorporation in Fluid-Flow Simulation." This invitation recognizes the efforts of the Fracture Research and Application Consortium, particularly the work of Jon Olson, Randy Marrett, Rob Lander, Larry Lake, and Jim Jennings.


To date, lectures are scheduled for southern China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Oklahoma, West Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico City.

SPE Distinguished Lecture presentations are scheduled by SPE in consultation with SPE sections.



Dr. Linda Bonnell has been named as an AAPG Distinguished Lecturer for 2003–2004. Linda holds the positions of Scientific Advisor and President with Geocosm and is a Research Fellow at the John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin. Linda will present two talks:

(1) "Sealed, Bridged or Open - A New Theory of Quartz Cementation in Fractures"
(2) "Reservoir Quality Prediction in Deep Water to Tight Gas Sandstones Using a Process/Stochastic Modeling Approach"
To schedule an AAPG Distinguished Lecture, contact Cammy McKnight ( 918-560-2621, or Barbara Davis ( at AAPG. For more information on the lecture series check "Programs" on the AAPG site. See the Calender for Linda's travel schedule. 05/15/03
Dr. Steve Laubach presented a keynote address at the final colloquium in the series on naturally fractured rock formations sponsored by the International Francqui Chair in exact sciences. The topic of the presentation was "Fracture Characterization." The meeting was held in June at the Université de Liège, Belgium. 06/17/03  

Leonel Gomez has been awarded an AAPG Grant-in-Aid, the William Dow Hamm Memorial Grant, to support field work in Mexico for his dissertation. Only 29% of the 331 applicants received funding. Leonel has also been awarded a grant from the Geological Society of America. Congratulations.

More information on Leonel's dissertation project is posted on the Members web site. 05/10/03


Trap-Scale Structure

Planning is underway for acquiring Lidar data over structures in the Rockies. The objective is to investigate fracture attributes over a range of scales in the context of trap-scale structure.

The initiative will be discussed at the Research Meeting in July.

The airphotograph to the right shows regional fractures in flat-lying sandstone. 05/1/03


Fractures in sandstone, western US

Larry Lake is the May 2003 eGuest at SPE online.

Larry is fielding questions in the Reservoir Simulation general discussion.  04/11/03

For information on recent FRAC research on simulation and natural fractures see:   Philip, Z.G., Jennings, J.W., Olson, J.E., and Holder, J., 2002, Modeling coupled fracture-matrix flow in geomechanically simulated fracture networks : Society of Petroleum Engineers Paper 77340.

Structural Diagenesis: AAPG Hedberg Research Conference

February 8 through 12, 2004, Thompson Conference Center, Austin

Update 12/2/03: Venue changed to Driskill Hotel. [ FRAC participation ]


Interactions of chemical and mechanical processes in the development of subsurface structures is the topic of an AAPG Hedberg Research Conference scheduled for February 8-12, 2004 in Austin.

Planning for this meeting is currently underway. The prospectus for the conference will be posted shortly on the AAPG web site. See AAPG Hedberg.

Contact Jon Olson, Rob Lander, Joann Welton, Nick Woodward, Steve Laubach or AAPG for information. 04/1/03


The University of Texas at Austin Campus

Larry Lake to be Presented SPE Award

SPE recently announced that Larry Lake will receive an award at the 2003 meeting in Denver. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Fracture Short Course, Argentina

University of Salta


Randy Marrett taught a short course on fractures and fractured reservoirs at the University of Salta, Argentina. The course covered a wide range of FRAC topics, including scaling, mechanics, and the intereaction of chemical and mechancial processes in the development of fracture patterns. Contact Randy for more information. 04/1/03


Randy Marrett in the Field

Field area, Sierra Madre Oriental


Mexico Research

Bob Goldhammer will present three talks at the GCSSEPM/STGS South Texas and Northeast Mexico Seminar, April 11, in San Antonio.

Topics include syndepositional tectonic effects on carbonate platform development and gravitationally driven extension.

Northeast Mexico Field Work

For information on opportunities for student projects in northeastern Mexico on structural, diagenetic, and stratigraphic issues, contact Randy Marrett or Bob Goldhammer, Department of Geological Sciences.

For more pictures from Leonel Gomez' field area and the 2002 Ecopetrol field trip, see Events 2002. 04/1/03

Presentations: May 2003 AAPG ConventionSalt Lake City

Steve Laubach chairs the fractured reservoirs poster session and Gomez, Gale, Monroy, Marrett, Goldhammer, Loucks, and Laubach present papers (including core displays). More information and abstracts.

Jackson School of Geosciences at Salt Lake City

Diagenesis Lectures at Department of Geological Sciences

Student Lectures in April

Diagenesis and reservoir quality of the eolian Nugget/Navajo Sandstone     

April17         Laura Net

Quartz cementation modeling and reservoir quality of the Cretaceous sandstones in the Carito field, north Monagas, Venezuela    

April 10        Julymar Morantes

Lectures are held in UTDoGS Room 2.324 at 4:00 p.m. Members welcome

Department of Geological Sciences
  Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering has been named the No. 1 petroleum engineering program by U.S. News and World Report. An article about the ranking can be found at the PGE web site. For more information on the fracture research program at PGE contact Dr. Jon Olson.

Arrangements for the July Research Meeting and Field Trips are posted under Meetings and What's New on the Members side of the site. Please call Steve Laubach or Julia Gale if you have any questions about logistics. A preliminary agenda has also been posted and a field trip itinerary is online on the private side of the site. 03/24/03 update 04/17/03


Vicinity of Jackson, Wyoming

  Tony Troutman, a geologist with Shell Exploration and Production in U.S. Gas Onshore New Play Development, visited members of the Fracture Research and Application Consortium (FRAC) through March 5. His visit included training in microfracture imaging and characterization techniques developed by FRAC. The work is part of ongoing studies of fractures and technology transfer. 02/28/03

Bureau Research Fellow and FRAC IA associate Dr. Linda Bonnell has been named as an AAPG Distinguished Lecturer for 2003–2004. Linda is one of the principals of Geocosm, an Austin-based reservoir consulting group.


  Margaretha (Peggy) Rijken, a doctoral student at UT's Department of Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering and a FRAC IA associate, was one of 27 University, faculty, and teaching assistants to be awarded the 2003 Texas Excellence Teaching Award. (More information) 02/10/03

Next Research Meeting in Wyoming

The next FRAC Research Meeting will be held in Jackson, Wyoming July 21-22, 2003.

The meeting will include lectures, field trips July 18-20, and an optional short course. See What's New on the Members' site for more information. 12/20/02


Postdoctoral Fellowship

A postdoctoral fellowship in FRAC is available from the UT John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences for research on the links between mechanical and chemical processes in structure development in reservoir rocks. Contact Steve Laubach for more information. 12/20/02


Lectures In Early 2003

Peggy Rijken, Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering, presented a lecture on predicting fracture attributes using quantitative mechanical modeling and structural diagenesis at the Bureau on Friday, January 31, 2003.

Contact Steve Laubach or Peggy Rijken for information about this presentation.

Julia Gale was in Houston on January 16, and spoke to the Houston Structural Geology Group (see Events item below). The talk was open to the public.

As part of the AAPG Visiting Geologist program, Steve Laubach spoke at the University of Idaho on January 23. Steve also spoke by invitation in February 2003 at the AAPG North Africa Hedberg Research Conference. 12/20/02

Lake SPE Distinguished Lecturer
Larry Lake is touring as a Society of Petroleum Engineers Distinguished Lecturer. Larry's talk is titled "Using Simulation Models to Predict Uncertainty (Just Because We Can Run Millions of Cells Doesn't Mean We Should)." 12/19/02

Gale Presentation to Houston Structural Geology Group

The January meeting of the Houston Structural Geology Group was held at the Bureau of Economic Geology's Houston Core Research Facility on January 16, 2003 at 3:30 p.m.



Julia Gale was the speaker and her talk was about "Predicting and characterizing fractures in hydrocarbon reservoirs: using the link between diagenesis and fracturing". After Julia's presentation, she lead a tour of the facility.

The BEG facility is near the intersection of Beltway 8 and HWY 290. Directions to the facility can be found on the Bureau web site:

Frank Bilotti of Unocal organized the HSGG to be a forum for presentation and discussion of new and topical ideas in structural geology. 12/04/02

Ellenburger project well.


Publications Feature

From time to time, we will post slides on the public Publications page. The current posting is:

Jon Olson

Spatial Organization of Natural Fractures: A Geomechanics Approach