The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences
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August 2014

Tiffany Caudle addresses 10th Grade GeoFORCE students on Austin's Mt. Bonnell In July, BEG Research Scientist Associate Tiffany Caudle led a group of high school students from Southwest Texas on the GeoFORCE Young Geoscientist field course in Austin and Port Aransas. On the field trip, students visited locations in Austin including Mt. Bonnell, McKinney Falls State Park, Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park, and Barton Springs Pool. During the Port Aransas portion of the trip, students studied many environments on a barrier island (Mustang Island), including the beach, dunes, bay margin, wetlands, and washover features. The students also explored the coastal marine environment aboard the Marine Science Institute’s Research Vessel Katy, a 57-foot trawler, by sampling marine life through a plankton tow, a benthic mud grab, and trawl. Said Caudle, who began working with GeoFORCE in 2006, “For me, the coolest part of the GeoFORCE program - aside from teaching geology to an awesome group of students—is watching  the friendships grow between the students.“
Tiffany Caudle (far left) speaks to students at McKinney Falls State Park

Beverly DeJarnett (left) gives a tour of the core repository at BEG's Houston Research CenterTwo million boxes filling three giant warehouses across Texas – arguably, the largest collection of archival rock material in the world. That describes the Bureau's library of well core, cuttings and other rock samples now housed and maintained in its Houston, Austin and Midland core research centers. Geoscientists, engineers, researchers, educators, students, and the general public travel from around the world to unlock the stories held in these irreplaceable rocks, answering questions and generating new ideas about precious subterranean commodities, like oil, water, and natural gas. But how did the collection become so massive? Largely through donations of rock material over the years from companies large and small. Although the expensive process of coring Careful examination of core samples remains essential to geologic researcha well is not as common these days, there is still no better way to determine rock characteristics first-hand. When a company has learned all that it feels that it can from the rocks it has retrieved from thousands of feet below its leases, there is no better option for their disposition than to donate them to the Bureau. Calls and e-mails are fielded continually from geologists and other industry representatives hopeful of turning over their cache of core, cuttings and other rock samples to an organization with facilities and people better positioned to care for them. One advantage to donating the rocks is the continued ability to revisit them, answering any new questions that may arise. Bureau staff are careful curators of these vital rock samples, preserving them just as if they were great books from an ancient library. Donating is also good for the bottom line:Thousands of geologists visit the Bureau's core facilities each year Companies avoid costly storage and disposal fees. Most companies donating rock material also make tax-deductible financial contributions to the Bureau's core research endowment, the proceeds from which help to pay for operations to care for the core, cuttings and other rocks over time. Among the major donors to this endowment are Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, Marathon, Shell, and Occidental Petroleum. Ultimately, the Bureau's mammoth archive of rock material is the foundation for the vast majority of its cutting-edge energy and environmental research. For more information about donating rock material to Bureau core research centers, contact Mark Blount.


Jeff Paine discusses regional geology with GeoFORCE students
During July, Senior Research Scientist Jeff Paine guided two groups of high school students from both urban Houston and rural Southwest Texas on a geologic tour across the Pacific Northwest. Paine has taught the GeoForce Summer Academy fifteen times since the  program began in 2005.  The field trips and lectures are designed to further students' understanding of basic geologic processes - especially tectonic events,  including subduction, earthquakes, volcanoes, lava flows and uplifts. Students visit locations including Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, Newberry Caldera, Crater Lake, and the Oregon coast.  Says Paine, “the eight day journeys are academically rigorous and  physically challenging – some of the lectures run well into the evening – but the students have a genuine interest and it’s always a rewarding experience.”

Students take a cool break on the slopes of Mount Hood

Katherine Romanak
On July 18, 2014, Katherine Romanak presented "Monitoring and Environmental Protection at Geologic Carbon Storage Sites" for the U.S. Congressional Briefing Series "Energy from the Earth." The series was designed by a consortium of professional geoscience societies working together to inform energy legislation by making technical information available to U.S. policymakers. The briefing on CCS was Part 6 of the series and entitled "Geologic Carbon Storage: Feasibility, Technology, and Challenges" and was presented once in the morning at a location within the House of Representatives and again in the afternoon at a location within the Senate. Topics included geological requirements for carbon dioxide storage, potential for storage in the United States, facility design and technology, strategies to minimize risk including groundwater impacts and the potential for induced seismicity, and monitoring needs for storage verification and public assurance. Other speakers were Peter Warwick (USGS) and Josh White (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), with Brenda Pierce (USGS) moderating. The presentations were well-attended by members from the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and various subcommittees relating to Energy and Environment.

Katherine Romanak speaks on carbon capture and storage




 
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