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Research Institutes, Facilities, and Laboratories

The School of Geosciences has state of the art research facilities across a broad sprectrum of the geosciences.  Ranging from field instruments to experimental apparatus to computing software and hardware, SGG provides students with the tools necessary to complete cutting edge research.

See Highlighted Research on the sidebar (under Research link) for a few of the new/current projects in which our faculty and students are involved.

The List of Faculty by Research Area on the sidebar (under Research link) highlights the primary research areas of our faculty. Please contact faculty for more information about laboratory facilities or related research projects. 

Geophysics Laboratories

The geophysics lab comprises the Computational Geophysics Laboratory and the Field Geophysics Laboratory. 

The Computational Geophysics Laboratory includes several labs assigned to individual research teams and the Geoscience Processing & Imaging Center (GPIC).   

Research Teams 

Their mission is to provide critical computational infrastructure for research activities in near-surface geophysics, exploration geophysics, basin- to crustal scale imaging, earthquake seismology, and microseismic monitoring. The labs are equipped with Linux, Mac and Windows workstations, Linux servers, and data storage servers. The labs also have access to dedicated computing resources at the OU’s supercomputer center (http://www.oscer.ou.edu), which includes 7 dual 12-core nodes, 250TB storage nodes, and 390 LTO-6 tapes (~975 TB) for data archive.  

The Geoscience Processing and Imaging Center (GPIC) 

GPIC provides computer hardware, software, data, and user-support to students and researchers of the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy for both teaching and research activities. GPIC is the primary high-end interpretation and computational facility of the School of Geosciences. Through the generosity of exploration companies, national oil companies, and data brokers, GPIC enables access to high-quality 3D seismic (including multicomponent), electric log, image log, microseismic, and production data for both interdisciplinary research and education.  

GPIC provides students education using state-of-the-art geophysical exploration and development applications via hands-on approaches. It provides the framework for laboratory exercises in reservoir characterization, seismic modeling and migration, 3D seismic processing, exploration geophysics, 3D seismic interpretation, and quantitative seismic interpretation. GPIC also serves as the computational platform for research in seismic processing and imaging, seismic geomorphology, computer-assisted structure and fracture analysis, reservoir characterization, and potential field imaging of the earth’s crust.  

GPIC is housed in room 1010 Sarkeys Energy Center and includes 23 dual-monitor Windows 10 Dell Precision Tower Workstations (12-16 cores, 32 GB RAM). A Linux-based server cluster provides over 150 Terabytes of disk space and a total number of 132 dual cores. In addition, GPIC has access to dedicated processing power housed within OU’s supercomputer center (http://www.oscer.ou.edu), where very large jobs can also be run using a batch queuing system. 

Software 

Through the generosity of software vendors, the School of Geosciences has access to a suite of commercial and academic software packages which our faculty and students use for research and teaching. 

  • Seismic Processing and Acquisition Design: SLB Vista; SLB OMNI; Haliburton Landmark; ProMAX; SeisSpace; Madagascar 

  • Seismic Modelling: Tesseral; ANRAY 3D Ray Tracing 

  • Seismic Interpretation: CPSGG AASPI; SLB Petrel; Geophysical Insights Paradise; Ikon Geosciences RokDok; CGG Hampson-Russell Geoview; IHS Kingdom; OpendTect; Haliburton Landmark Decision Space 

  • Passive Seismic Data Management and Processing: Antelope; Seismon  

  • Near-Surface Geophysical Imaging: ReflexW (GPR, Near-surface seismic); AGI EarthImager 2D (Electrical Resistivity Tomography)  

  • Magnetic and Gravimetric Data Processing: Geosoft OASIS Montaj; GMSYS 2D/3D 

  • Miscellaneous: MatLAB; ArcGIS; PlatteRiver; BasinMod; NHWave 


The mission of the field geophysics lab is to provide equipment for research and field-based teaching activities by students and faculty in the School of Geosciences. The lab includes a wide range of equipment for near-surface studies, basin- to crustal-scale geophysical imaging and monitoring, rapid aftershock responses, infrastructural monitoring, and field-based classes. The equipment includes: 

Passive seismic stations

  • 132 Fairfield (now Magseis) ZLAND Gen2 3C 5Hz nodes (incl. 2 16-piece charging racks, 2 data servers, 4 HHT).

  • 15 short period stations (Seismic Source). Each station has a 3C-4Hz geophone sensor, a solar panel and a quick-deployment box. 

  • 3 broadband Nanometrics Meridian stations. Each station has a 3C-20s broadband sensor, a solar panel and a quick deployment box.  

Active Seismic 

  • 3 Geode seismic recording units with a total of 72 channels and 4.5-Hz/28-Hz geophones. 

  • Truck-mounted seismic source PEG-40 ('thumper')

  • Betsy seismic shotgun and Sledgehammer

Electrical Resistivity Imaging

  • ARES II 88-Channel ERT system

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

  • Sensors and Software PulseEkko GPR + 100 MHz / 1000 MHz antennas

Gravimetry

  • Scintrex CG5 relative gravimeter  

Magnetics

  • 2 Geometrics Proton Precession Magnetometers

GPS + LiDAR 

  • 8 complete GPS stations, with telemetry, batteries, and solar panels (PolaRx5 receivers + Septentrio PoalNT antennas)

  • 5 NetRS receivers + 5 Trimble Zephyr antennas 

  • Trimble Base/Rover field GPS (5 stations)

  • Riegl VZ-400 LiDar 

Geology and Geochemistry Laboratories

Institute for Reservoir Characterization

Director of the Institute is Dr. Roger Slatt who has had a 14 year career in the oil and gas industry with Cities Service Co. and ARCO/ARCO International, focused on various aspects of reservoir characterization globally. He also has had a 17-year career in academia, including Head of the School of Geology and Geological Engineering at Colorado School of Mines (1992-2000), Director of the School of Geology and Geophysics at University of Oklahoma (2000-2005), and Director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Petroleum Technology Transfer Council (1995-2000).  Faculty collaborators include Drs. Younane Abousleiman (OU), Paul Philp (OU), Neal O’Brien (State University of New York-Potsdam), Eric Eslinger (The College of St. Rose, New York), Yoana Walschap (OU) and Robert Davis (Schlumberger).

Institute research focus is in the areas of unconventional resource shales, reservoir characterization and deepwater petroleum geology.  More than 50 students have received their M.S. and Ph.D. degrees through Institute studies under Dr. Slatt’s direction.  Courses in Introduction to Reservoir Characterization and Advanced Reservoir Characterization are offered to OU graduate students annually.

Inter-disciplinary courses on applied reservoir characterization, as well as collaborative or consortium research programs, are available through the Institute to industry professionals globally.

Devon Powder X-ray Diffraction and Clay Mineralogy Laboratory

The Devon lab includes equipment for the preparation and analysis of rock and mineral samples by powder X-ray diffraction, including clay mineral separations.   A Rigaku Ultima-IV X-ray diffractometer features cross-beam optics, allowing rapid switching between Bragg-Brentano and parallel-beam optical configurations.  Scintillation and Si-strip detectors are mounted with a Y-arm system that facilitates either extremely rapid or extremely precise data collection.  The Ultima IV can also be configured for grazing incidence measurements of thin films on diffracting surfaces.  Additionally, the lab is equipped for preparation of bulk rock samples, with tools such as a McCrone Micronizing mill, and for the treatment of rock samples for clay analysis, requiring a sequence of extraction steps involving a number of chemical and physical treatments.  To accomplish the clay separations, the lab contains a centrifuge, a dialysis bath, desiccators, a drying oven, a furnace, a heating water bath, and a microbalance.  For data analysis, updated software tools such as MDI Jade, MDI ClaySim, and Rigaku PDXL are interfaced with databases from the International Centre for Diffraction Data.

 

 

Electron Microprobe Laboratory

Electron Microprobe Laboratory

The electron microprobe laboratory is built around a fully automated CAMECA SX100 microanalyzer. The five wavelength-dispersive spectrometers, Thermo Ultra-Dry SDD energy-dispersive detector, and GATAN PanaCL/F cathodoluminescence detector (CL) are fully integrated for all analytical and imaging functions (x-ray, secondary electron, backscattered electron, absorbed current, and CL signals). The system provides quantitative elemental microanalysis of boron to uranium; digital acquisition of electron, x-ray intensity, and cathodoluminescence images; image analysis and other data processing routines. A full description of the laboratory and its functions is available at: http://ors.ou.edu/Microprobe/OUEMPLHome.html

Experimental Petrology Laboratory

The experimental petrology laboratory has facilities for mineral synthesis, calibration of phase equilibrium reactions, and petrologic analogue or simulation experiments. In addition to sample preparation facilities, the experimental laboratory contains 18 externally heated cold-seal reaction vessels for routine operation to 850° C, 200 MPa, and two vessels capable of operation to 700° C, 400 MPa. 

Fluid Inclusion Microthermometry Laboratory

This facility is used to assess the compositions and physical properties of fluid inclusions through microthermometric techniques. In addition to specialized sample preparation equipment, the laboratory includes a new Linkam TH600 programmable heating/freezing stage on a Zeiss
Research Photomicroscope.

Gas Hydrates Lab

Gas Hydrates Laboratory

The Gas Hydrates Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma is fully equipped to conduct, monitor, and analyze gas hydrate thermodynamic and kinetic experiments. Two Parr® pressure vessels are used as hydrate reactors with external heating/cooling systems which can achieve experimental temperatures from -50 to 400 degrees Celsius.  The reactors are instrumented with digital thermocouples and pressure transducers which are monitored and recorded with a custom designed Labview® system.  

Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis Laboratory

The INAA laboratory contains gamma-ray spectrometers for the determination of rare-earth element and other trace element abundances in neutron-activated geological materials.

Laurence S. Youngblood Energy Library

The current collection contains over 170,000 map sheets and approximately 92,000 catalogued volumes on the subjects of geochemistry, geology, geomorphology, geophysics, hydrology, mineralogy, paleontology, petrology, stratigraphy, structure and tectonics. The interdisciplinary nature of the earth sciences is supported by Chemistry, Math, Physics, and Engineering branch Libraries. Bizzell Memorial Library contains the biological sciences and the internationally recognized History of Science Collections.


Organic Geochemistry/Stable Isotope Laboratory

The organic geochemistry /stable isotope laboratories have wet chemistry facilities and instrumentation for the isolation and analysis of organic compounds from geologic materials. 

Dr. Engel has two HPLC systems and a HP GC/MSD instrument used for the analysis of amino acids and peptides.  He has a conventional stable isotope laboratory equipped with vacuum lines and a Delta E isotope ratio mass spectrometer for high precision stable carbon isotope analyses of organic matter and carbonates and stable oxygen isotope analyses of carbonates and water.

Dr. Engel also has a state of the art Thermo Delta V Plus isotope ratio mass spectrometer that is equipped for continuous flow as well as with a dual inlet for conventional off-line analyses.  For continuous flow, the instrument is interfaced to a Costech Elemental Analyzer for stable carbon, nitrogen and sulfur isotope analyses and a Thermo TC/EA system for stable hydrogen isotope analyses. The instrument is also interfaced to a Thermo gas bench system for automated analyses of carbonates (carbon, oxygen) and water samples (oxygen).

Dr. Liu has Agilent 1290 series ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) system equipped with an Agilent 6530 quadrupole time-of-flight (qTOF) mass spectrometer for high-resolution accurate mass analysis on pigments and polar lipids in various types of biological and geological samples. An Agilent 5977B Inert Plus MSD system is also installed in Dr. Liu’s lab for the analysis of small volatile compounds.  

The 2G cryogenic magnetometer (with DC squids) and AF demagnetizer in the shield Paleomagnetic Laboratory.

Paleomagnetics Laboratory

The shielded Paleomagnetics laboratory is used for paleomagnetic and rock-magnetic studies. Equipment includes a 2G cryogenic magnetometer with DC squids, AF and thermal demagnetizers, impulse magnetizer, field equipment, and several magnetic susceptibility systems including a AGICO MFK-FA1 Multifunction Kappabridge.

Paleontology Laboratories, Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Paleontological research is concentrated at the Sam Noble Museum, which includes fully equipped labs for invertebrate paleontology, vertebrate paleontology and paleobotany.  Large collection areas house more than half-a-million specimens.  In addition to various specimen preparation equipment, there are facilities for scanning electron microscopy and digital macrophotography.  Exhibits in the Ancient Life Gallery are fully integrated into undergraduate classes (GEOL 1024; GEOL 3513; GEOL 4413), and allow detailed study of fossils ranging from trilobites to dinosaurs.


The Physical and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory is equipped for a wide range of low to moderate temperature geochemical experiments and field sample processing.  Geochemical reactors of various types including polyacrylate columns, pressure vessels, and custom-designed batch reactors, as well as stir plates, water baths, and shakers, are used to synthesize analyze the reactivity and rates of natural and laboratory materials.  The solution chemistry of field water samples and laboratory experiments are characterized with various electrodes and meters.  calorimetric methods using a Thermo Scientific Genesys 10S scanning UV-visible spectrophotometer, and elemental analysis with a PerkinElmer AAnalyst 800 combined flame / graphite furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS).  Graphite-furnace capability allows determination of elements in the ppb range.  Kinetic Phosphorescence Analysis (KPA) allows determination of sub-ppb levels of dissolved uranium. Trace element work is facilitated by a Barnstead Nanopure Diamond ultrapure water system. A Coy Labs anaerobic chamber allows experiments to be conducted at low oxygen fugacity, mimicking many subsurface/deep water environments.  A Quantachrome gas adsorption analyzer determines BET surface area and pore size distribution.

Contact Andy Elwood Madden or Megan Elwood Madden for more information.

Rock Deformation Facilities

Three laboratories in the school are dedicated to the characterization of deformation and measurement of rock properties of interest in structural geology: the rock deformation laboratory, the stress analysis laboratory and the models laboratory.

High Pressure Rock Deformation Laboratory - In this laboratory, experiments can be run on rock samples under confining pressures up to 3kb, pore pressures up to 3kb, and variable strain rates. In addition, fluid-flow through the specimen can be measured while the rock is under load. The pressure vessel can handle both standard axial loading and transverse piston loading for the study of layered rock folding experiments.

integrated PoroMechanics Institute (iPMI)- Formerly known as the PoroMechanics Institute (PMI) offers an integrated platform to researchers of various disciplines including petroleum engineering, geology, geophysics, civil engineering, computer science, and electrical engineering to conduct general and applied research on the mechanics of porous media, in particular geomechanics applied to exploration and production of hydrocarbons. For a listing of current labs please click here.

Structural Geology Laboratory

The digital workroom includes two dual monitor Dell PC workstations, a Sun Blade workstation, and a SGI Octane workstation. The PCs are primarily used for GIS applications, Cross section construction and 3-D modeling. The Sun Blade and SGI workstations are primarily used for seismic interpretation (Landmark and Geoquest) and 3-D visualization.

The physical modeling laboratory is equipped with controlled hydraulic and electric displacement equipment. These are employed to exert a variety of displacement boundary conditions on models made of sand, clay or plaster. Most of the experiments done in this laboratory are directed toward studies of upper crustal deformation, primarily faulting and fracturing.

Thin Section Petrography Laboratory

This laboratory contains research quality microscopes for graduate and undergraduate students, as well as faculty and researchers, to conduct petrographic research. It contains two Zeiss microscopes, including a Zeiss Imager Z1 which is capable of taking thin section photomicrographs. The lab also includes a Nikon reflecting light microscope and a Nikon binocular microscope.

Attribute Assisted Processing & Interpretation (AASPI)

During the past two decades, seismic attributes have become a key component not only in mapping structure and stratigraphy but also in a quantitative reservoir characterization. In addition to enhancing individual faults and discontinuities, geometric attributes help interpreters map axial planes for structural analysis, relate curvature to intensity and orientation of fractures, and map lateral changes in reflectivity to detect channels below seismic resolution. During the 2013 AASPI Consortium research program, we will continue our focus on poststack and prestack data conditioning, calibration of attributes to geological and engineering control, and the use of LMR and AVAz analysis of unconventional reservoirs. Our research is driven by the data provided by our sponsors, such that our primary efforts will be on the application of these attributes over resource plays and mature fields of North America (US, Canada, and Mexico) that have a combination of proprietary 3D surveys, production data, well logs, microseismic data, image logs, production logs, and core, within a well-understood geologic framework. We believe that a better understanding of the impact of acquisition, processing and imaging on seismic attributes is key to quantifying the errors in reservoir characterization and hydrocarbon estimation provided by modern attribute-driven geostatistics, neural networks, and clustering technology. In addition to research reports, we provide algorithm source code to all sponsors and attribute volumes to those sponsors who wish to provide us with 3D seismic data. More information can be found on the AASPI website.

RCML

Reservoir Characterization and Modeling Laboratory (RCML)

The RCML is directed by Professor Matt Pranter - Dr. Pranter and his students investigate the controls that stratigraphy, sedimentology, and structure play in regard to reservoir architecture, lithological and petrophysical-property heterogeneity, and reservoir performance. A fundamental goal is to assess the dominant controls on reservoir quality (both matrix and fracture) to more accurately map and model the spatial distribution of reservoir properties.

The iPMI is directed by Dr. Younane Abousleiman and was established in 2002 with ties to the Larry W. Brummett/ONEOK Chair Professorship.  The integrated PoroMechanics Institute offers an integrated platform to researchers of various disciplines including petroleum engineering, geology, geophysics, civil engineering, computer science and electrical engineering to conduct general and applied research on the mechanics of porous media; in particular, geomechanics applied to exploration and production of hydrocarbons.

The Environmental Compound-Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA) Laboratory evolved over the past two decades from the Organic Geochemistry Group in the School of Geosciences of the University of Oklahoma. The success in development of CSIA methods for analysis of environmental samples led to establishing an in-house research program focused on CSIA of environmental contaminants, and creation of an analytical service facility, serving academic and industrial customers since 2003. Today, the laboratory houses three GC/IRMS systems for determination of carbon and hydrogen isotope ratios. A GC/qMS system is used for determination of chlorine isotope ratios. The laboratory is equipped for handling of the complete suite of environmental samples (water, organic liquids, sediment and air). In addition, GC/qMS instrumentation permits characterization of organic composition of samples.

http://enviro-isotope.oucreate.com/CSIA/

The Basin Analysis Seismic Stratigraphy laboratory (aka ‘The IBA Barrel Room’) supervised by Dr. John Pigott is housed in rooms 940-942 of the Sarkeys Energy Center. The applied focus of the BASS LAB is to describe and inventory the dynamic petroleum systems in basins while spatially and temporally delineating the dynamics of hydrocarbon accumulations. For each basin, the lab’s modus operandi attempts to solve the inverse boundary value problem of quantitatively describing and modeling the thermal-tectonic-sedimentologic evolution through time complementing a quantitative seismic sequence stratigraphic interpretation.  Constraining data come from the outcrop and the subsurface and are then analyzed in the BASS lab.  For the outcrop in addition to classic methods of description, spectral gamma ray assays are conducting using the RS-230 Super-Spec, elemental analyses using a  portable ThermoFisher Scientific XL-3 XRF, and Q acquisition is determined with the Silver Schmidt 659 Impact Hammer. For detailed analyses of the outcrop, up to 1 km distance 2 mm resolution surveys of reflectance and fracture data are determined with a Riegl VZ-400 3D Terrestrial LiDar system. For the subsurface, data are obtained from core, petrophysics, and 3D reflection seismic data and are analyzed in the BASS lab using both our own coded mineralogic and risk analysis software along with Platte River Basin 1D,2D, and 3D Modeling software, complete licenses to Schlumberger’s Petrel Interpretation and Reservoir Simulation software, Hampson Russell seismic inversion, geostatistics, neural networks, AVO, well-tie, and time-lapse seismic software. Proprietary and public geologic/petrophysical/seismic data sources analyzed are acquired from basins in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Myanmar, Kuwait Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, South Africa, Venezuela, Argentina, Jamaica, and the U.S. (particularly the offshore East Coast Atlantic an onshore North Slope, and Permian Basin). Along with numerous dual screen workstations for user analysis and interpretation within the BASS lab, for those problems which are particularly large (e.g. paleoTsunami modeling using the University of Delaware’s FUNWAVE-TVD | NHWAVE programs), distributed analytics are incorporated utilizing the six 144 processors of dedicated processing power with over 10,000 CPU cores, 23TB of RAM and 450TB of usable hard disk space, housed within OU’s 2772-node supercomputer center, http://www.oscer.ou.edu

Examples of BASS LAB field LiDar acquisition and processed 3D Seismic of Permian spur and groove carbonate channels from somewhere in West Texas:

Quantitative Grain Size and Grain Shape Analysis

Grain size and texture are measured in the lab using the Malvern Mastersizer 3000 and the Malvern Morphologi G3. The Malvern Mastersizer 3000 uses laser diffraction to measure grain size distributions of sediment samples. Different modules allow the measurement of a wide range of sample sizes and grain sizes (sub micron to 2 mm). The Malvern Morphologi G3 quantitatively measures particle size and 2-D shape by photographing and analyzing each individual grain. Grain metrics and bulk geometrical statistics are calculated with the Malvern software.