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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 Wick Cary 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 (, which includes 7 dual 12-core nodes, 250TB storage nodes, and 390 LTO-6 tapes (~975 TB) for data archive.  

The Wick Cary 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 (, where very large jobs can also be run using a batch queuing system. 


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


  • Scintrex CG5 relative gravimeter  


  • 2 Geometrics Proton Precession Magnetometers


  • 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

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:

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 and Experimental Earthquake Physics Facilities

The School of Geosciences has laboratories that are dedicated to:

  • determinations of earthquake physics (fault behavior) at conditions relevant for earthquake nucleation and propagation
  • the creation of fractures and determination of their mechanical parameters
  • the characterization of deformation and measurement of rock properties at shallow crustal conditions

Experimental Earthquake Physics and Geotribology Lab:

This  laboratory has three different experimental platforms:

            -Rotary Shear Apparatus-

Experiments can be performed on solid rock specimens at loading rates consistent with earthquake nucleation and propagation. Further, at slow velocities, off-fault strain and radiated energy can be measured and analyzed, i.e., the ability to record a laboratory earthquake in the near-field at high rates. Additionally, this apparatus can run experiments on powdered gouge under dry and saturated conditions. In total this apparatus offers the ability to characterize the strength and slip behavior of different geologic materials as it relates to fault slip and earthquake physics.

             -Fracture Mechanics Apparatus-

The testing apparatus has the ability to acquire fracture mechanical parameters from rock samples, including fracture toughness, subcritical fracture growth index, and the curves of stress intensity factor vs fracture velocity under saturated conditions (where fluid chemistry can be an experimental variable). Such measurements have direct application to operations that create fractures in the subsurface.

            -Bruker Tribometer System and Profilometer-

This system, originally designed for engineering purposes, is used to test the friction/wear/hardness of geomaterials over a range of velocities and at various conditions. The capabilities of the platform allow for experiments that target such topics as fault mechanics, friction and wear along bimaterial faults, the evaluation of friction laws at high temperatures, and the mechanics of glacial sliding and silt production.

Experimental Rock Deformation and Poromechanics Lab [formerly the integrated PoroMechanics Institute (iPMI)]:

The equipment in this lab offers an integrated approach 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 materials, in particular, geomechanics applied to hydrocarbon exploration/production, geothermal energy production, and carbon dioxide sequestration.

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.


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.

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.

The newly established Aqueous Geochemistry Laboratory provides analytical and sample processing support for research on organic matter in natural waters. Instrumentation in the AGL includes:

  • TOC analyzer (Shimadzu TOC-L™) that uses a 680°C Combustion Catalytic Oxidation/NDIR Detection Method to measure total organic carbon (TOC) in water. Estimated TOC detection limit is 30-50 ppb.
  • Horriba Aqualog™ Spectrofluorometer that is used to measure the absorbance and fluorescence properties of organic matter. This instrument generates data that can be used to create Excitation-Emission Matrices (EEMs) commonly used by researcher to characterize organic matter.
  • Organic matter isolation equipment. The AGL has several sizes of columns and ion-exchange resin that are used to isolate the humic substance (humic and fulvic acids) fraction of organic matter.
  • Electrochemistry support includes a Fischer Scientific multi-parameter (pH, temperature, conductivity, TDS, ORP, Dissolved Oxygen) used to support laboratory experimentation needs. A cupric ion selective electrode (Cu2+ ISE) is also available for measuring free copper (Cu2+) in solution. 
  • Field instrumentation includes a Hanna Instrument multi-parameter field meter, GeoTech peristaltic pump, Hach digital alkalinity titration kit, and a variety of sample bottles and filtration.

The AGL facility also contains a large fume hood, analytical balance, digital pipettes, magnetic stirring hot plate, and a ASTM Type I nanopure water purification system.

Instruments in the Critical Zone Biogeochemistry laboratory include a LI-COR LI7815 trace gas analyzer with a small volume introduction module, an Elementar Vario EL CNS analyzer for solids and liquids, and a Thermo Fisher MultiSkan SkyHigh microplate UV-Vis analyzer with wavelength scanning capability.

We also have two drying ovens, a freezer, a refrigerator, multiple shakers, a ball mill, a jar mill, a water purification system, a benchtop centrifuge with capacity to spin microcentrifuge through 50 mL centrifuge tubes up to 30,000 RCF, single and multichannel pipettes, multiple sets of soil sieves, and a full suite of reagents, glassware, and plasticware.

Our field equipment consists of soil carbon dioxide sensors, soil oxygen sensors, soil moisture sensors, campbell scientific datalogers, field-deployable fixed-potential redox sensors, augers with extensions, soil probes, a bulk density sampling set, and a LICOR smartflux soil trace gas flux system.

OU’s High Resolution Mapping Raman User Center is housed within the School of Geosciences and managed by Dr. Megan Elwood Madden. The Renishaw InVia mapping Raman microscope and spectrometer utilizes both a 532 nm green laser and a 785 nm red laser, as well as the Wire 4.1 software for data analysis.