The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences

May, 2008
On May 20th, Bob Loucks presented an invited talk to the Permian Basin Section of SEPM in Midland, Texas. His talk was titled “Origin of Lower Ordovician Ellenburger Group Brecciated and Fractured Reservoirs in West Texas; Paleocave, Thermobaric, and/or Tectonic.” PBS-SEPM also gave Bob the 2007 “Honorary Life Member” Award, which is presented to one person each year. Kudos, Bob! Bob Loucks
Sergey Fomel On May 1-2, Sergey Fomel participated in the Spring Symposium of the Geophysical Society of Houston and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, where he gave a presentation titled "Time-Domain Seismic Imaging Using Beams." The symposium, organized in honor of John W. Sherwood, a famous Houston geophysicist, was attended by more than 100 people from different countries.
The Second Annual Scientific Software Days, organized jointly by the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and the Jackson School of Geosciences, took place May 15-16. The event attracted more than 60 participants for 1 day of technical presentations and 1 day of tutorials and was co-organized by Victor Eijkhout (TACC), Sergey Fomel (BEG), and Michael Tobis (UTIG/BEG). Sergey gave a presentation on "Reproducible Computational Experiments Using the Madagascar Software Package."
Bob Hardage-Larry Denver
EGL's Bob Hardage (left) and Ascend Geo's Larry Denver
On April 25, Ascend Geo LLC, a leading provider of land-based, cable-free, seismic recording equipment, announced its donation of the Ultra G5TM System to the Exploration Geophysics Laboratory (EGL), a research group at the Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin. The cable-free recording system will be used to research 3C seismic data collection in acquisition projects undertaken by EGL as part of its research in seismic vector-wavefield technology. Ascend will participate as a member associate in EGL as a result of the donation. "We are excited to assist the EGL's research efforts by providing them with our cable-free seismic system. We view Dr. Hardage as a genuine thought leader in multi-component acquisition and processing, and we are quite confident that the EGL will leverage our technology to further field-recording techniques and advance the industry's ability to image reservoirs more effectively," said Larry Denver,
Chairman and CEO of Ascend Geo, LLC. Dr. Bob Hardage, accepting the donation on behalf of EGL, said that "Cable-free technology is a flexible platform that will help to make 3C acquisition affordable, and we’re proud to be one of the first to use the Ultra System to extend the EGL’s acquisition concepts."

EGL was established in 1997 at the Bureau of Economic Geology through The University of Texas at Austin to develop seismic vector-wavefield technology for improving reservoir characterization and prospect evaluation. EGL focuses on developing case histories and data examples that illustrate applications of multicomponent seismic data.

Ascend Geo LLC is a leading provider of cable-free seismic recording equipment for geophysical land exploration. Ascend is committed to development of state-of-the art technologies to help seismic contractors expand their ability to acquire geophysical data more efficiently and E&P companies to obtain high-quality seismic images at a reasonable cost. Headquartered in Golden, Colorado, Ascend has offices in Houston and the UK, with representatives around the world. More information is available at

AEC Group photo
This week the Advanced Energy Consortium (AEC) hosted 145 engineers, scientists, and researchers from around the world at its invitation-only Pre-Solicitation Workshop in Austin, Texas. The 2-day event included an “oil-field primer” for nanotechnologists presented by experts from members BP, ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Marathon Oil, followed by an action-packed afternoon of 20 technical talks presented by researchers that covered various nanotechnology applications in the oil field. In a series of topical panels on the second day, oil-company and nanotechnology experts reviewed and debated the difficult challenges of actively sensing and communicating parametric data obtained using micro- and nanosensors beyond the well bore. Highlights of the 2-day conference included keynote speeches by Mark Bunger, Director of Lux Research in San Francisco, and Scott Tinker, Director of AEC.

AGL award winners
from left to right: BEG's Tim Dooley, Michael Hudec, and Martin Jackson
Congratulations to Bureau scientists Tim Dooley, Mike Hudec, and Martin Jackson for winning the Jules Braunstein Memorial Award (in a tie) for Best Poster at the AAPG Annual Convention in San Antonio last month. The poster, titled “Dismembered Sutures Formed during Asymmetric Salt-Sheet Collision,” was selected from 600+ posters from around the world. Way to go, guys!

Beatriz Garcia-Fresca (pictured above), Bureau Ph.D. student, along with her co-authors and advisors, Charlie Kerans (UT Department of Geological Sciences), Jerry Lucia (Bureau), and Jack Sharp (UT Department of Geological Sciences), has just been informed that SEPM has awarded them the 2008 Excellence of Poster Presentation (in a tie). Their poster, titled “Numerical Model of Reflux Circulation during the Deposition of the Permian San Andres Formation, Guadalupe Formation and Algerita Escarpment,” was presented at the San Antonio AAPG-SEPM Meeting in April. The award will be bestowed at the SEPM meeting in Denver in June 2009. Congratulations to all!

Scott Tinker

Bureau Director Scott Tinker spent the past month or so speaking to Texans about the future of energy and the environment. On April 7, Scott spoke to business leaders at the Houston Business Journal Dinner on emerging technologies and the Advanced Energy Consortium in a presentation titled “Downhole Mobile Micro- and Nano-Sensors for Advanced Recovery.” The talk, and its look at the Bureau’s advanced energy recovery focus, were featured in an article in the May issue of the Oil & Gas Financial Journal. On April 29 Scott spoke on “BEG Research for the 21st Century,” addressing energy industryresearchers and management at the Bureau’s inaugural Industry Day. On May 1 it was on to the North American Energy Summit in San Antonio where Scott delivered a talk titled “Climate and Carbon in a Global Energy Context.” The next day he appeared at the UT Chancellor's Council Meeting in Austin for a live interview on global energy, and on May 8 he addressed key legislators and aides in Jewett at the Bureau’s Decision Makers Conference with a talk titled “Climate, Carbon, and Electricity: A 2030 Energy Rx.” Finally, on May 16, Scott delivered “Energy Myths and a Few Realities” to the Texas Bankers Association in San Antonio. Just another 6 weeks in the life of a Bureau Director/State Geologist!
Dr. Fares Howari, Middle East Regional Coordinator of the University of Texas Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy—and Bureau scientist—recently made a presentation at a first-of-its-kind conference. The Center of International Energy and Environmental Policy based at Texas University at Austin held the First Conference on Water Policy and Associated Technological Challenges in Arid Dynamic Environments: The Special Case of Arabian Gulf Countries. The meeting was hosted by the American University of Kuwait and co-sponsored by Schlumberger Water Services.

The Center of International Energy and Environmental Policy based at Texas University concluded the First Conference on Water Policy and Associated Technological Challenges in Arid Dynamic Environments: The Special Case of Arabian Gulf Countries. The meeting was hosted by the American University of Kuwait and co-sponsored by Schlumberger Water Services.

The conference was attended by prominent scholars and policymakers in the field of water resources from around the world, with a focus on the Gulf region.

Featured presentations demonstrated how natural rainfalls, increased frequencies of drought, water salinization, and flash floods increase the challenge of supplying enough water to some of the most arid countries in the world. Despite these natural restrictions, the enormous rates of economic development in GCC countries are on the rise. The meeting concluded that for this economic development to continue, an investment in renewable energy resources such as solar energy is becoming more important.

Dr. Fares Howari addresses the CIEEP Conference

Dr. Fares Howari, Middle East Regional Coordinator of University of Texas Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy—and Bureau scientist—said that “the problems of water resources in the Middle East have been also magnified due to other factors stemming from policies of food self-sufficiency, declining water quality, heavy subsidies in some countries which encourage misuse, distorting incentives, and limited cost recovery.”

Another interesting dimension to water resources in the Middle East is linked to an increasing energy demand for water desalination. Thus, there is an increased need for investments in sustainable energy options to maintain and increase water production because the region cannot depend on conventional fuels forever. But what are the feasible energy options for securing future water? Are they solar-, hydrogen-, wind-, or nuclear-energy-based ideas?

Dr. Howari added that government and private and public sectors should work together to create incentives, reallocate heavy-water and fossil-energy subsidies, invest these subsidies in water public-private-partnership (PPP), and build, operate and transfer (BOT) projects. However, the regulatory framework should be improved to foster such a change. Recent reports indicate that Arab states will need to invest $100 billion on desalination over the next decade if demand for water keeps growing at the current pace, especially in the Gulf region. The important element in this debate is still linkages of water and energy issues and associated policy-oriented research.

JSG awards

Conference participants also discussed a unique situation of water in the Middle East related to surface water. All major rivers cross at least one international border there, with rivers such as the Tigris, Euphrates, Nile, and Jordan flowing across several major Middle Eastern nations. This means that the nations, cities, and towns farther downstream are largely impacted by practices and decisions of upstream countries. Roughly two-thirds of the Arab world depends on sources outside its borders for its water supply. Hence the increase in the role of water in geopolitical affairs, which could escalate the potential for conflict over water resources among nations or may offer an opportunity and provide a mechanism for collaboration if desired jointly.

Dr. Howari indicated that these facts should call for regional and international organizations to take water issues and problems in the Middle East more seriously before they reach the point of no return. Options will be discussed. Proper investment in sustainable water and research in water allocation, conservation, reallocation and production, and innovative forms of cooperation should go hand-in-hand with policies directed at research and awareness programs.


JSG awards
From left to right: LaPlante, Loucks, Jackson and Scanlon

The Bureau congratulates recent recipients of the Jackson School awards. Wanda LaPlante received the Staff Excellence Award. Bob Loucks and Martin Jackson were recognized, respectively, for Outstanding Research and Outstanding Service, and Bridget Scanlon received the Joseph C. Walter Jr. Excellence Award. Congratulations to all for an exceptional year!

Martin Jackson, head of the Bureau’s Applied Geodynamics Laboratory (AGL), is the recipient of the 2007–2008 Jackson School Service Award. Dean Barron enumerated Martin’s service on committees to formulate the Charter of the Jackson School and JSG external appointments, search committees, and the JSG Strategic Planning Council. Dean Barron said “Martin has participated in the key enterprises that help us all be more successful. He has invested an incredible amount of time in improving the collective.” Thanks, Martin, and congratulations!

JSG awards
Left: Martin Jackson accepts his School Service Award from JSG Dean Eric Barron. Right: Wanda LaPlante reacts to winning the Jackson School Staff Excellence Award.

Director Scott Tinker’s Executive Assistant Wanda LaPlante is the 2007–2008 Jackson School Staff Excellence Award winner. Wanda has served in many capacities at the Bureau down through the years, but perhaps her hardest job was to become the brand-new Director’s Gal Friday. No small feat. One nominator wrote: “She maintains the director’s presence even when he travels the world …. I often think if she were not here leaving the lamp burning in the watch that Scott would not be able to find his way home.”

A 2007–2008 Jackson School Research Award goes to Bureau scientist Bob Loucks. The man who for years has been the moving force behind the State of Texas Advanced Resource Recovery (STARR) program was presented this coveted award “for impact which can be summarized in one simple sentence: Bob has been honored nearly 20 times with best paper or best talk awards by professional societies.” The Bureau joins the Dean in congratulating Bob.

Bureau scientist Bridget Scanlon has won the 2007–2008 Jackson School’s Joseph C. Walter Jr. Excellence Award. The Walter award is the most prestigious internal award in the school. In his presentation speech to Bridget, Dean Barron cited her “external research, publications, prominent role in important advisory committees, and the [2007 Birdsall-Dreiss] distinguished lecturer role,” all of which contributed to her schoolwide recognition. Kudos, Bridget!



Department of Geological Sciences
Institute for Geophysics
The University of Texas
Contact information
Maps and Directions
Media Contacts
Employment Opportunities
Bureau Reports
©2016 Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin