The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences
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September 2013
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The Fracture Research and Application Consortium (FRAC) hosted its 2013 Annual Research Meeting, September 12–17. The meeting kicked off with a 3-day field trip to Alberta, Canada, followed by two days of technical presentations in Austin. The field trip, with 25 participants, was led by Esti Ukar and Peter Eichhubl, in collaboration with Peter Fermor (Devon Canada), and covered mainly outcrop analogs of fractured unconventional reservoirs of the Cardium Formation in the Alberta Foothills, Canada. The technical session at the Driskill Hotel downtown Austin was attended by over 60 people representing 17 member companies, and researchers Steve Laubach, Julia Gale, Peter Eichhubl, Esti Ukar, Chris Landry, Andras Fall,, and students from BEG, as well as Jon Olson, Mașa Prodanovic and students from PGE. The technical presentations covered a range of topics from Alberta to East Texas, and focused on recent achievements in investigating mechanical and chemical processes and interactions to understand, characterize, successfully predict, and stimulate reservoir-scale structures.

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On the morning of September 6, 2013, a BEG Research Poster Session was held at the Bureau. The event provided staff an opportunity to learn about the wide-ranging research activities performed at the Bureau and to encourage collaboration between scientists. More than 25 posters that had been shown at professional geoscience societies such as AAPG, GCAGS, and others in the past year were presented in a relaxed setting that was attended by about 100 Bureau staff. Attendees reported that the event was "a great opportunity to share one's own research with others and learn about other scholars' research" and an "informal chance to talk to other BEG research staff about their results and possibilities for collaboration." Because the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, the BEG Research Poster Session will become an annual event, the next one being slated for early September 2014.

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The Bureau's J.P. Nicot, Bridget Scanlon, and Ian Duncan have been awarded a substantial grant by the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) for their project titled "Understanding and Managing Roadblocks to Shale Gas Development Related to Groundwater Contamination from Gas, NORMs, and Trace Metals (Texas)." The 2-year study aims to enhance the understanding of naturally occurring shallow gas–either dissolved or free phase–to facilitate rational analysis of possible groundwater contamination with gas, trace metals, and naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs). The project also seeks to discover the nature and variability of flowback in order to adjust and optimize flowback treatment and possibly frac fluid composition. This research will be used to develop a best management practice manual for baseline monitoring and fingerprinting sources and processes affecting shallow gas. The study will apply state-of-the-art chemical and isotopic approaches in gas and water to fingerprint sources of gas and mobilization mechanisms of chemical species from shales. Methods will be developed to distinguish gas sources and processes affecting groundwater contamination with gas, trace metals, and NORMs. Nicot will serve as managing PI for the project, and Scanlon and Duncan will be co-PI's. Other key Bureau researchers working on this project include Pat Mickler, Changbing Yang, Katherine Romanak, and Jiemin Lu.

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The Bureau welcomes Linda Ruiz McCall as Information Geologist and Resource Center Manager. Linda Ruiz McCallLinda graduated from UT-Austin with a degree in Geological Sciences and an MBA in Finance, and earned a Master's degree in secondary science education from Teachers College of Columbia University. With experience in business, education, and government, Linda most recently served as Program Manager and Education and Outreach Specialist for the Texas Water Development Board. Linda will assist the public with general information about Texas geology and will work to create educational opportunities and build and strengthen partnerships with the Bureau's many friends in academe, government, and industry.

Among Linda's efforts will be helping to coordinate Protect Your Groundwater Day on September 10. The Bureau of Economic Geology joins the National Ground Water Association in encouraging the citizens of Texas to protect public health and the health of the environment by protecting groundwater. Scott HamlinIn many parts of the state, Texans rely heavily on groundwater. Overall, groundwater accounts for 60 percent of all freshwater withdrawals, 80 percent of agricultural water use (mostly for irrigation), and 28 percent of the public water supply.For rural populations in Texas, groundwater is the source for 99 percent of the water supply. Drought conditions that have gripped much of Texas for the last several years have brought public attention to the vital issue of groundwater. The Bureau is currently conducting numerous studies in groundwater management as it applies to agriculture, energy production, and public health. Bridget Scanlon, Senior Research Scientist with the Bureau's Sustainable Water Resources Program, was recently interviewed by Earth Sky magazine about groundwater depletion and solutions. Follow this linkto read the article and listen to the podcast at EarthSky.Org.

RI 278: Click to see full coverBEG Report of Investigations No. 278 "Depositional systems and controls on reservoir quality (determined from core data) in deeply buried Tertiary strata in the Texas-Louisiana Gulf of Mexico" by William Ambrose, Bob Loucks, and Shirley Dutton, uses a set of 12 whole cores to provide a framework for interpreting depositional origin, reservoir-quality, and mineralogical-composition in deeply buried (>10,000-ft) Tertiary strata in the Texas-Louisiana Gulf of Mexico. Funded by the Deep Shelf Gas project, Report of Investigations 278 demonstrates that relative position within the sequence stratigraphic framework and facies tract can exert powerful controls on reservoir quality, even in deeply buried successions. Bureau publication RI278 contains numerous detailed color plates and is now available at the Bureau's Publication Store, or online at BEGstore, the Bureau's electronic storefront.
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