Tip Meckel

December 2, 2019
About Tip Meckel

Tip Meckel is a senior research scientist investigating geologic carbon storage. During his 13 years with the Gulf Coast Carbon Center at the Bureau he has led research focusing on geologic characterization, structural geology, monitoring design, pressure evolution for CO2 injections, and high-resolution 3D marine seismic acquisition, interpretation, and monitoring. He has been directly involved with many large-scale field demonstration projects funded through the DOE-NETL Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships and currently leads an effort to identify commercial storage opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico. Since 2008 he has been PI or co-PI on 16 carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) grants totaling over $70 million dollars.

Tip earned his master’s degree in geology from the University of Montana in Missoula in 1998 and his doctorate in geology and geophysics from The University of Texas at Austin in 2003, under the supervision of Dr. Sharon Mosher. He subsequently taught undergraduate geology at Colby College in Maine, followed by a two-year position with the U.S. Geological Survey as a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

  • What are your current research activities?

     I’m committed to understanding and advancing the critical scientific and operational elements of CCS. My background brings structural and stratigraphic perspectives to understanding fluid migration in the subsurface, integrating field, theoretical, and laboratory approaches. I’m interested in the fundamental behavior of CO2 in the subsurface, how to quantify it, how to accurately simulate it, and how to verify that understanding with seismic data. My research considers fundamental and applied problems in CCS, addressing critical research needs and future directions. Operating a high-resolution 3D marine seismic acquisition system will be the primary means to investigate subsurface stratigraphy, structure, and fluids for various applications.
  • What excites you the most about your current research

    The topic of CCS sits squarely among applied geoscience and engineering energy research, societal value, economic development, and environmental policy. The integration of these presents unique technical challenges and collaborative opportunities to advance our pursuit of next-generation energy technologies.
  • What is the desired outcome of your research?

    My research supports the rapid and safe deployment of a critical technology for substantial and timely reductions of atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources. Success is educating other researchers, the public, policymakers, industry, and other stakeholders about the opportunities currently available for addressing these critical societal needs.
  • What do you need in order to make your research efforts more successful?

Data. Scientists eat data for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They make observations and test their ideas and interpretations relentlessly constrained by data. Strong partnerships with existing data providers and the ability to collect unique field data drives success.

  • What are your latest papers/publications, and what is most exciting to you about them?

Ringrose, P. S., and Meckel, T. A., 2019, Maturing global CO2 storage resources on offshore continental margins to achieve 2DS emissions reductions: Nature Scientific Reports. This paper and its companion methodology paper develop principles of pore-space utilization and subsurface pressure constraints together with analogs of historic industry well-deployment rates to demonstrate how the required storage capacity can be developed as a function of time and technical maturity to enable the global deployment of offshore storage for facilitating achieving the 2°C scenario. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-54363-z

Meckel, T. A., Feng, Y., Treviño, R. H., and Sava, D., 2019, High-resolution 3D marine seismic acquisition at the Tomakomai CO2 storage project, offshore Hokkaido, Japan: International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control. This paper represents international data acquisition at an active offshore CCS site and allowed Tip to travel with equipment to Japan, acquire data on a Japanese vessel, and work with a fantastic international team toward an important demonstration of technology at a globally unique site. This paper was also recently listed on SSRN's top-10 download list for the topic of seismology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijggc.2019.05.034

  • Who will benefit from your latest paper or publication?

    Recent research summarized in these publications can be used by various stakeholders, including industries actively pursuing offshore CCS projects as well as decisionmakers evaluating the role of CCS among various emissions reduction strategies.
  • Tip Meckel - 3D Seismic Offeshore
    What was your most exciting past paper or publication, and why?

    Along with Ramón Treviño, I coedited the Bureau of Economic Geology’s 283rd Report of Investigations, Geological CO2 Sequestration Atlas of Miocene Strata, Offshore Texas State Waters (7 chap., 74 p.), which received the Frye Memorial Award in 2018. The award is cosponsored by the Geological Society of America and the Association of American State Geologists for the best publication in the field of environmental geology published in the prior three years. The purpose of the atlas is to provide a summary of research undertaken as part of a multiyear study (2009–2014) of Texas state waters and the adjacent Federal offshore continental shelf. The atlas provided the opportunity to work collaboratively with nine Bureau researchers and graduate research assistants and evaluated extensive 3D seismic data and well logs to produce continuous stratigraphic and structural interpretations covering over 2,200 mi2.
  • Who are the types of research partners you are seeking, and what skills or expertise could be of benefit your research?

    Pursuit of CCS research benefits from strong collaboration and support from industrial stakeholders. The most useful breakthroughs are those that address key deployment and operational barriers. Access to operational environments is critical.

    • What are the desired relationships, expertise, or skills that could be brought in to benefit your research?

    CCS requires strong skills in many of the traditional geoscience core strengths: geology, geophysics, and geochemistry. The similarities of CCS with hydrocarbon exploration and production allow traditional expertise in these fields to evolve to address aspects unique to CCS. New efforts to simulate pressure evolution and fluid flow at basin scale from multiple injection projects focus on accessing high-performance computing resources.
  • What have been recent successes associated with your research?

    Together with Susan Hovorka, I am co-PI of the Offshore Gulf of Mexico Partnership for Carbon Storage (GoMCarb), a multiyear study funded by DOE-NETL for evaluating offshore CCS potential in the western Gulf of Mexico. Receiving the Jackson School of Geosciences Outstanding Educator Award for exemplary supervision and mentoring of graduate student research in 2018 was a great honor. I am deeply invested in the development of my students and their professional success after graduation.
  • What is the geographic location of your research?

    Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico; Hokkaido, Japan; Norwegian North Sea.

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