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Research Areas

Faculty and students in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences conduct research in areas including our planet's history and future; the energy and resource base that supports society; geologic hazards that impact a growing population; a changing climate and environment; and the challenge of sustainability.

Energy Resources Engineering Research

Energy resources engineering is concerned with the design of processes for energy recovery. Included in the design process are characterizing the spatial distribution of hydrocarbon reservoir properties, drilling wells, designing and operating production facilities, selecting and implementing methods for enhancing fluid recovery, examining the environmental aspects of petroleum exploration and production, monitoring reservoirs, and predicting recovery process performance. Research is ongoing in these areas:

  • Reservoir characterization, uncertainty modeling and geostatistics
  • Computational modeling of subsurface flow (reservoir simulation)
  • Enhanced oil recovery (thermal, chemical, gas injection)
  • In-situ combustion and in-situ upgrading
  • Coal bed methane and other unconventional resources
  • Well test analysis
  • Advanced well and wellbore flow modeling
  • Clean energy conversions
  • Carbon capture during coal combustion
  • Geological sequestration of greenhouse gases
  • Geothermal engineering
  • Renewables such as large-scale solar and marine energy systems
  • Modeling of integrated energy systems
  • Process optimization and inverse modeling (history matching) 

Earth System Science Research

Environmental Earth System Science studies the planet's oceans, lands, and atmosphere as an integrated system, with an emphasis on changes occurring during the current period of overwhelming human influence, the Anthropocene. Faculty and students within the department use the principles of biology, chemistry, and physics to study problems involving processes occurring at the Earth's surface, such as climate change and global nutrient cycles, providing a foundation for problem solving related to environmental sustainability and global environmental change. Research is ongoing in these areas:

  • Sustainable Food and Water
  • Land Use Change
  • Contaminant and Nutrient Cycling
  • Ocean and Ecosystem Response
  • Climate System Dynamics

Geological Sciences Research

Geological and Environmental Sciences examines the entire planet from its deep interior to the surface, throughout the long span of geological time up to the human timescale. The scale of view ranges from global to atomic, and the broad scope of research includes physical, chemical, and biological processes, as well as the unique history of the Earth. Research in ongoing in these areas:

  • Surface Processes, Hydrology, and Geomorphology
  • Environmental Geology and Geochemistry Paleoclimate
  • Geobiology & Paleontology
  • Sedimentary Geology and Basin Analysis
  • Structural Geology and Tectonics, Regional Geology, and Geomechanics
  • Petrology, Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Mineral Physics
  • Geochronology and Thermochronology
  • Geostatistics

Geophysics Research

Geophysics integrates geology, mathematics, and physics in order to understand how the Earth works. Geophysicists study Earth processes through a combination of laboratory experiments, computational and theoretical modeling, remote imaging, and direct observation. Research is ongoing in these areas:

  • Earthquakes and Volcanoes
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Earth Structure
  • Geodynamics