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Spring 2014 Colloquia

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Scott Schaefer; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Title: America’s New Oil Boom: An Introduction to the Petroleum Industry as a Career
Host: Dr. Stephen Dornbos & Dr. Margaret Fraiser

In the last decade, America’s kinship with the oil industry has been rejuvenated thanks to improved technology and the increase in demand for petroleum products. Terms like fracking, oil sands, and oil shale have entered our daily lexicon which carry with them controversy, myths, and for many opportunity. This presentation will provide an introduction to petroleum geology as a career from someone with working experience in the field, along with an understanding of the good, the bad, and the ugly of today’s oil industry.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dr. Scott D. Elrick; University of Illinois
Title: An integrated view of middle Pennsylvanian coal depositional systems: Eustasy, Sedimentation, Climate, Coal Splits and Coal Balls
Host: Dr. Erik Gulbranson

In-mine studies of a Pennsylvanian age peat-swamp contemporaneous channel (Galatia channel), cores, fossil forests exposed in mine roofs, and coal ball profiles from the southeastern portion of the Illinois Basin have afforded an unusual opportunity to observe the cross cutting relationships between the coal, overlying (and interpenetrating) shales, underlying paleosols, and the changing character of the peat swamp through a depositional cycle.  This talk will synthesize these observations into an integrated perspective that shows a tightly coupled dance of glacial-interglacial cyclicity, eustasy, and changing equatorial climate, and the weathering, swamp formation, and sedimentation that results in the strata of a middle Pennsylvanian cyclothem.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dr. Jiemin Lu; University of Texas-Austin
Title: Reservoir response to CO2 injection at Cranfield field, Mississippi
Host: Dr. Weon Shik Han

At the Cranfield CO2-injection site, Mississippi, U.S.A., reservoir geochemical and geophysical responses of dioxide (CO2) injection at million-ton scale was closely monitored by fluid sampling at multiple wells. Fluid geochemical results show that mineral reactions in the Lower Tuscaloosa reservoir were slow during CO2 injection. Brine chemistry remained largely unchanged, which contrasts with significant changes observed in other field tests. Continual fluid monitoring and tracer tests show strong heterogeneity of fluid flow and evolution of flow paths with time. The wells were connected by numerous, separate flow pathways and CO2 sweep efficiency improved with time. It was observed that CH4 was enriched at the front of CO2 as CH4 degassed from brine into gas phase. The findings provide valuable insights into multiphase fluid flow in heterogeneous rock formations.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dr. David McConnell; North Carolina State University
Title: Learning from Experience: Applying Discipline-based Education Research in University Geoscience Classrooms.
Host: Gina Szablewski

This presentation will describe how and why we changed the way we teach large introductory geoscience classes and their associated labs. We will introduce research that demonstrates that these alternative teaching strategies improve student learning, positively impact student interest and relevance, and can contribute to changes in teaching beliefs of graduate students in charge of labs.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dr. Michael Cardiff; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Title: Seeing Inside Aquifers with Multiple Data Types: A view to the future Description/Abstract:
Host: Dr. Weon Shik Han

Groundwater flowing through subsurface deposits experiences heterogeneity at numerous scales, from the scale of bedding planes within a depositional sequence, to the facies assemblages present at regional scales. Our ability to understand and make predictions about groundwater flow and transport are thus crucially limited by our ability to “see” into the subsurface and understand this heterogeneity. In this talk, I will review some existing methods for understanding heterogeneity within an aquifer. In particular, I will focus on tomographic methods, in which numerous data sources are combined in order to resolve heterogeneity in 3D. I will highlight the data collection, data processing, and interpretation issues associated with such tomography, as well as provide a view towards future progress that may be made in this area.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dorthe Wildenschild (Darcy Lecture); Oregon State University
Title: What Happens in the Pore, No Longer Stays in the Pore: Opportunities and Limitations for Porous Media Characterization and Process Quantification Using X-ray Tomography
Host: Dr. Weon Shik Han

During this presentation, you will receive an overview of the current state of imaging of porous media systems—and processes taking place within them—using x-ray tomography, a technique that allows for three-dimensional observation and measurement of variables internal to an otherwise opaque object.

Gain insight on how x-ray tomography has advanced to the point where it is possible to probe porous media in great detail, allowing for fully quantitative analyses of processes and mechanisms at the pore scale. Detail resolution ranges from hundreds of microns for cm-sized samples down to hundreds of nm for micron-sized objects. Contrast depends on density and atomic number of the imaged object, and creative use of contrast agents can help delineate otherwise difficult-to-identify features.

Also discussed will be technique limitations, as well as new potential advances that will allow for exciting new research in coming years. Applications of the technique to remediation of non-aqueous phase liquid in groundwater, the fundamentals of multiphase flow, and geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide will be presented.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dr. Peter Jacobs; University of Wisconsin- Whitewater
Title: A model for the source and distribution of loess on the Green Bay Lobe land surface, and implications for soil catena evolution
Host: Dr. Tom Hooyer

Loess has been recognized on the glacial land surface of the Green Bay Lobe for over 100 years, but no systematic explanation of the source of the loess has been advanced. Intriguingly, the loess on the Green Bay Lobe land surface is thicker than predicted by regional thinning trends from the Mississippi Valley and is geographically separated from much loess of southwest Wisconsin by a sandy region devoid of loess. Mapping based on soil survey interpretation indicates that the loess occurs above an escarpment marking the eastern end of the sandy loess-free region. Particle size fining trends demonstrate that the loess was transported by northwesterly winds. Clay mineralogy of the Green Bay Lobe loess is distinctly different than glaciogenic sediments and matches loess of the Mississippi Valley, indicating a regional source and long distance transport of the loess. We propose the loess was transported from the regional source along a surface of transport produced by migration of eolian sand through low-relief landscapes including the glacial Lake Wisconsin basin. Eolian sand migration caused repeated entrainment of dust leading to east-southeastward transport. The loess accumulated above an escarpment that limited sand mobility and re-entrainment of loess beyond this topographic barrier.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dr. Lauren Michel; Baylor University
Title: Seeing the apes through the trees: Paleoecological reconstruction of a Proconsul and Dendropithecus site on Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, Kenya
Host: Dr. Erik Gulbranson

While it is accepted that environment plays a key role in evolution and adaptation of early hominoids, pinpointing the specific environments in which they lived is often difficult. Here we present results from a multi-proxy study of Early Miocene deposits from Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, Kenya which specifically place Proconsul and Dendropithecus within a closed-canopy forest. Macroscopic features observed at the R3 locality include a red-brown paleosol containing in situ tree stump casts and permineralized root systems, and an overlying sandstone with fossil leaves. Additionally, specimens of Proconsul and Dendropithecus have been found weathering from the same paleosol horizon. GIS work was used to placed the tree stumps and some of the roots into a spatial framework. Micromorphology, clay mineralogy, bulk soil geochemistry, and paleobotanical proxies were assessed, and paleotemperature, paleoprecipiation, and landscape hydrology were reconstructed. This project offered the opportunity for multiple proxies, including linear regression models from leaves and CIA-K and CALMAG from the paleosols, to be compared. Based on this work, we can now definitely place the basal catarrhine Dendropithecus and the early ape Proconsul within a closed-canopy forest environment. Prior associations of these taxa with mixed or even open habitats may represent lateral or temporal variation on Rusinga, but are based on time-averaged fossil assemblages.