James Brooks receives 2015 AAPG Presidential Award for Exemplary Service

geology

James Brooks receives 2015 AAPG Presidential Award for Exemplary Service

James E, Brooks, SMU Institute for the Study of Earth and ManJames Brooks, provost emeritus and professor emeritus in SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, has received the 2015 AAPG Presidential Award for Exemplary Service, one of the highest honors of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

AAPG President Randi Martinsen bestowed the honor upon Brooks “for a lifetime of inspired and dedicated service to his profession and community, and for the education of hundreds of students for whom he has served as an outstanding teacher, wise mentor and genuine friend.”

AAPG is the premier organization for U.S. petroleum geologists. It is one of the world’s largest professional geological societies with more than 36,000 members.

Brooks, an AAPG member, is an expert in North American and Middle Eastern stratigraphy and geomorphology. He’s been at SMU for 60 years as a professor, department chair, dean of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, provost, interim University president and as chairman of the Institute for the Study of Earth and Man (ISEM) in SMU’s Department of Earth Sciences.

Officially retired, he remains on the department staff in various roles, including as president emeritus and vice chair of the board of trustees for ISEM.

“He is a beloved teacher, mentor, role model, counselor and principal professor of dozens of M.S. theses and Ph.D. dissertations,” said former AAPG President James Gibbs. “He has been very supportive of petroleum geology science and business.”

In announcing the award, the AAPG commended Brooks — an AAPG member — for his inspired and dedicated service to his profession, community and students.

“I’ve known Jim for 40 years, and he is a man whose character, accomplishments and modesty I greatly admire,” said past AAPG president Marlan W. Downey.

“An extraordinary number of distinguished people have passed under Jim’s wings at SMU and ISEM in Dallas and have been influenced by him,” Downey said. “Jim is one of the ‘good guys.’”

Written by SMU and AAPG

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

May 1, 2015|For the Record, News|

SMU seismologist Brian Stump named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Brian W. Stump, Albritton Professor of Geological Sciences and AAAS Fellow, SMUSMU seismologist Brian Stump has been named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow for distinguished contributions to his field, particularly in the area of seismic monitoring in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Stump, Albritton Chair of Geological Sciences in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences of SMU’s Dedman College, is the fifth SMU professor to be recognized as an AAAS Fellow.

> Learn about Dr. Stump’s work at the SMU Research blog

“Dr. Stump is a scientist of the first rank and brings the results of his outstanding research into the classroom, where his students benefit from his example and insights as a scholar,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He richly deserves the AAAS recognition by his peers and we are proud that he calls SMU home.”

“Brian’s work has been seminal in scientists’ ability to rapidly and accurately discern the difference between an earthquake, a conventional explosion (such as might occur in a mining accident) and a nuclear test,” said James Quick, SMU vice president for research and dean of graduate studies. “His research is tremendously important to all of us, and yet he is equally committed to teaching and serving as a mentor to young faculty.”

> SMU News: SMU-UT study shows “plausible” connection between DFW quakes and saltwater injection well

Stump is well known regionally for his continued work researching the increase of small earthquakes that have been occurring in North Texas since 2008. But his work in detecting ground motion from explosions has for more than 20 years proved invaluable to the United States government in ensuring that the world’s nuclear powers abide by their agreements related to underground nuclear testing. He served as scientific adviser to the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Disarmament from 1994 through 1996 and continues to be called upon frequently to assist the U.S. government in the interpretation of seismic and acoustic data.

“I’m humbled by the recognition by the AAAS that science impacts the society in which we live,” Stump said. “I really believe that. And the work we’ve done at SMU on inducted seismicity in North Texas has that same blend of real science and societal impact.”

> Brian Stump on CBS-11 News: Report looks at drilling wastewater and North Texas earthquakes

For the last five years Stump has chaired the Air Force Technical Applications Center Seismic Review Panel, which provides a review of federally funded efforts in nuclear monitoring. He served as a committee member on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Seismology and Continental Dynamics from 2007 through 2012, and recently completed a term as board chair for Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a consortium of more than 100 universities funded by the National Science Foundation.

Stump joined SMU in 1983 from the Seismology Section of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. He graduated summa cum laude from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon with a bachelor of arts in physics in 1974, received a master of arts from the University of California-Berkeley in 1975 and received his Ph.D. in geophysics from UC-Berkeley in 1979 after completing a thesis titled Investigation of Seismic Sources by the Linear Inversion of Seismograms.

SMU faculty previously named as AAAS Fellows:

  • Volcanologist and research dean James Quick, who was named a Fellow in 2013
  • Environmental biochemistry scholar Paul Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 2003
  • Anthropologist David Meltzer, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in the Department of Anthropology who was named a Fellow in 1998
  • James E. Brooks, provost emeritus and professor emeritus in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 1966.

The AAAS Fellows program began in 1874. AAAS members may be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering group of their respective sections, by three Fellows, or by the association’s chief executive officer. Each steering group then reviews the nominations of individuals within its respective section and forwards a final list to the AAAS Council, which votes on the final list of Fellows.

> Read more from SMU News

‘Unconventional geothermal’ a game changer for U.S. energy policy?

SMU-Google geothermal map of North AmericaSMU geothermal energy expert David Blackwell gave a Capitol Hill briefing Tuesday, March 27, 2012, on the growing opportunities for geothermal energy production in the United States, calling “unconventional” geothermal techniques a potential game changer for U.S. energy policy.

Blackwell’s presentation outlined the variety of techniques available for geothermal production of electricity, the accessibility of unconventional geothermal resources across vast portions of the United States and the opportunities for synergy with the oil and gas industry. Also speaking at the briefing were Karl Gawell, executive director of the geothermal energy association, and James Faulds, professor at the University of Nevada-Reno and director of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.

“This is a crucial time to do this briefing,” said Blackwell, W. B. Hamilton Professor of Geophysics in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and one of the nation’s foremost experts in geothermal mapping. “Everybody is worrying about energy right now.”

The session was one in a series of continuing Congressional briefings on the science and technology needed to achieve the nation’s energy goals, titled collectively, “The Road to the New Energy Economy.” The briefing was organized by the National Science Foundation, DISCOVER Magazine, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was honorary host for the March 27 briefing at the Senate Visitor’s Center, which included congressional staffers, members of science and engineering associations, government, private and industry representatives.

SMU’s geothermal energy research is at the forefront of the movement to expand geothermal energy production in the United States. Blackwell and Maria Richards, the SMU Geothermal Lab coordinator, released research in October that documents significant geothermal resources across the United States capable of producing more than three million megawatts of green power — 10 times the installed capacity of coal power plants today. Sophisticated mapping produced from the research, viewable via Google Earth, demonstrates that vast reserves of this green, renewable source of power generated from the Earth’s heat are realistically accessible using current technology.

Blackwell began his presentation by debunking the common misperception that geothermal energy is always dependent on hot fluids near the surface – as in the Geysers Field in California. New techniques are now available to produce electricity at much lower temperatures than occur in a geyser field, he said, and in areas without naturally occurring fluids. For example, enhanced geothermal energy systems (EGS) rely on injecting fluids to be heated by the earth into subsurface formations, sometimes created by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Blackwell noted the potential for synergy between geothermal energy production and the oil and gas industry, explaining that an area previously “fracked” for oil and gas production (creating an underground reservoir) is primed for the heating of fluids for geothermal energy production once the oil and gas plays out.

The SMU geothermal energy expert called these “unconventional” geothermal techniques a potential game changer for U.S. Energy policy. Geothermal energy is a constant (baseload) source of power that does not change with weather conditions, as do solar and wind-powered energy sources. Blackwell noted that SMU’s mapping shows that unconventional geothermal resources “are almost everywhere.”

Blackwell closed his presentation with acknowledgment that site-specific studies and more demonstration projects are needed to make geothermal energy a strong partner in the new energy economy.

The briefing was taped and will be posted to the Science 360 website hosted by the National Science Foundation at a later date.

Written by Kimberly Cobb

> More news from the SMU Research blog at smuresearch.com

April 11, 2012|News, Research|

Research Spotlight: Study connects DFW quakes with injection well

SMU scientists with monitoring equipmentA study of seismic activity near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by researchers from SMU and UT-Austin reveals that the operation of a saltwater injection disposal well in the area was a “plausible cause” for the series of small earthquakes that occurred in the area between Oct. 30, 2008, and May 16, 2009.

The incidents under study occurred in an area of North Texas where the vast Barnett Shale geological formation traps natural gas deposits in subsurface rock.

Production in the Barnett Shale relies on the injection of pressurized water into the ground to crack open the gas-bearing rock, a process known as “hydraulic fracturing.” Some of the injected water is recovered with the produced gas in the form of waste fluids that require disposal.

A state tectonic map prepared by the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology shows a northeast-trending fault intersects the Dallas-Tarrant county line approximately at the location where the DFW quakes occurred. The study concludes, “It is plausible that the fluid injection in the southwest saltwater disposal well could have affected the in situ tectonic stress regime on the fault, reactivating it and generating the DFW earthquakes.”

The earthquakes do not appear to be directly connected to the drilling, hydraulic fracturing or gas production in the Barnett Shale, the study concludes. However, re-injection of waste fluids into a zone below the Barnett Shale at the nearby saltwater disposal well began in September 2008, seven weeks before the first DFW earthquakes occurred.

No earthquakes were recorded in the area after the injection well stopped operating in August 2009.

An SMU team led by seismologists Brian Stump and Chris Hayward placed portable, broadband seismic monitoring equipment in the area after the earthquakes began.

The seismographs recorded 11 earthquakes between Nov. 9, 2008, and Jan. 2, 2009, that were too small to be felt by area residents. Cliff Frohlich and Eric Potter of UT-Austin joined the SMU team in studying the DFW-area sequence of “felt” earthquakes as well as the 11 “non-felt” earthquakes. Their study, “Dallas-Fort Worth earthquakes coincident with activity associated with natural gas production,” appears in the March issue of The Leading Edge, a publication of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Stump and Hayward caution that the DFW study raises more questions than it answers.

“What we have is a correlation between seismicity, and the time and location of saltwater injection,” Stump said. “What we don’t have is complete information about the subsurface structure in the area – things like the porosity and permeability of the rock, the fluid path and how that might induce an earthquake.”

“More than 200 saltwater disposal wells are active in the area of Barnett production,” the study notes. “If the DFW earthquakes were caused by saltwater injection or other activities associated with producing gas, it is puzzling why there are only one or two areas of felt seismicity.”

Further compounding the problem, Hayward said, is that there is not a good system in place to measure the naturally occurring seismicity in Texas: “We don’t have a baseline for study.”

(Above, SMU scientists place monitoring equipment at a North Texas site. Photo by Hillsman S. Jackson.)

Read more from the SMU Research blog

March 16, 2010|Research|

Research Spotlight: Listening for volcanoes

James E. Quick on Anatahan, Northern Mariana IslandsTechnology designed to detect nuclear explosions and enforce the nuclear test-ban treaty now will be used to monitor active volcanoes in the Mariana Islands near Guam. The island of Guam soon will be the primary base for forward deployment of U.S. military forces in the Western Pacific.

The two-year, $250,000 project teaming SMU with the U.S. Geological Survey will use infrasound – in addition to more conventional seismic monitoring – to “listen” for signs a volcano is about to blow. The plan is to beef up monitoring of lava and ash hazards in the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The archipelago’s active volcanoes threaten not only residents of the island chain and the U.S. military, but also passenger airlines and cargo ships. The USGS project calls for installing infrasound devices alongside more traditional volcano monitoring equipment – seismometers and global positioning systems.

Scientists at SMU, which the USGS named the prime cooperator on the project, will install the equipment and then monitor the output via remote sensing. The project is a scientific partnership of the USGS, SMU and the Marianas government.

Infrasound hasn’t been widely used to monitor volcanoes, according to noted volcano expert and SMU geology professor James E. Quick, who is project chief. Infrasound can’t replace seismometers but may help scientists interpret volcanic signals, said Quick, who also serves as the University’s associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies.

“This is an experiment to see how much information we can coax out of the infrasound signal,” he said. “My hope is that we’ll see some distinctive signals in the infrasound that will allow us to discriminate the different kinds of eruptive styles – from effusive events that produce lava flows, or small explosive events we call vulcanian eruptions, to the large ‘Plinian’ events of particular concern to aviation. They are certain to have some characteristic sonic signature.”

(Above, SMU’s James E. Quick on Anatahan, one of the nine islands in the Northern Mariana archipelago with active volcanoes.)

Read more from the SMU Research blog

March 2, 2010|Research|
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