Exceptional Return On Educational Investment

We leverage the strengths of our individual programs in geology and geophysics, and geological and petroleum engineering, to provide students with opportunities for multidisciplinary classroom and research experiences unique to our institution.  GGPE has an international focus that facilitates opportunities for cutting-edge research around the globe.

A Glimpse Into Our Department

View a short video where our students and faculty offer a closer look at the different programs within our department:

GGPE Highlights

William Chandonia, a Ph.D. candidate in Geology, relies extensively on the MOVE software suite. Here, William presents his research on the development of leading edge structures in fold and thrust belts at the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting.

“MOVE provides our students the opportunity . . . to be competitive in the professional arena upon graduation.”

Petroleum Experts (Ltd) Provides MOVE Software Suite for Use in Research and Teaching

Petroleum Experts (Ltd), a recognized global standard in petroleum engineering and structural geology software tools, is providing 10 one-year licenses of the MOVE suite.  This software, valued at $2,180,000, is for use in research and teaching in the Geological Sciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering Department at Missouri S&T.

The MOVE suite is one of the most powerful and complete software packages for analysis and modelling of complex geologic structures. The ten different software toolkits that comprise the MOVE suite allow for 2D and 3D kinematic modelling of geologic structures, including: Geomechanical Modelling, Fracture Modelling, Stress Analysis, Fault Analysis, and Fault Response Modelling. In addition, communication packages that allow MOVE to work with Petrel, Open works, and Link GST are also being provided and may be used in course work in Petroleum Geology.  

The MOVE software suite is used extensively by the “Geomechanics and Structure Task Force” – a research group supervised by Drs. Eckert (Petroleum Engineering) and Hogan (Geology and Geophysics). William Chandonia (Ph.D.) candidate (pictured below) is using MOVE to construct complex geologic cross-sections at the leading edge of the Sevier Orogeny in southern Utah. Chandonia is also investigating these structures using MOVE’s kinematic forward modelling features as well as the fault analysis packages. The results of this research will provide a better understanding of the architecture and evolution of the tips of fold and thrust belts, which are commonly locations of prolific hydrocarbon reservoirs.

Ph.D. candidate Peter Nso plans on using MOVE’s capabilities in his research on the origin of “Megaflaps” which are upturned sedimentary strata that are sub-vertical along the margins of upwelling salt diapirs and also represent potential prolific hydrocarbon traps. Dr. Hogan is extremely pleased that Petroleum Experts has graciously provided this software to the Missouri S&T stating “MOVE provides our students the opportunity to pursue complex research problems using cutting edge industry software which provides them with the technological experience they need to be competitive in the professional arena upon graduation.”

Dr. Bai named the 2019 recipient of the spe distinguished membership award

Dr. Baojun Bai is the Lester R. Birbeck Endowed Professor in Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering at Missouri S&T.  Dr. Bai’s research focuses on enhanced oil recovery, conformance control, CO2 storage, and advanced rock-fluid characterization.  He is internationally recognized in all these areas, having presented more than 50 invited talks all over the world.  Baojun pioneered particle gel technology for conformance control, which has now been used globally in over 10,000 wells in mature oil fields.  He continues to work in this area, perfecting new types of gels.  Dr. Bai also pioneered the application of nano-fluidic chips to experimentally simulate flow in shale formations.  This technique is rapidly becoming a preferred method for studying fluid dynamics in unconventional shale reservoirs.  Dr. Bai’s work is both cutting-edge and practical, generating new ideas and possibilities while also resulting in 5 patents with more pending.  Baojun currently runs an industrial consortium focused on “particle gel” technologies that is comprised of 4 oil and gas companies.  In addition to the consortium, Dr. Bai has been a PI or CO-PI on 11 DOE grants for over $20,000,000.  Dr. Bai has published over 170 peer-reviewed journal articles with over 5000 citations.  His 116 SPE papers (separate from the 170 mentioned above) have been downloaded 70,000 times.  In recognition of Baojun’s work, he received the SPE Mid-Continent Regional Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty in 2016 and became a member of the EU Academy of Sciences in 2018.  Dr. Bai is a very well-deserved recipient of the 2019 SPE Distinguished Membership Award and he will be recognized at the SPE/ATCE 2019 annual reception and awards banquet in Calgary, Canada on October 1st. 

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Beginnings of Life

Geology research by Dr. Marek Locmelis uncovers possible trigger for beginnings of life on Earth as we know it.

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Dr. Jonathan Obrist-Farner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering (GGPE), and his GGPE team of collaborators; Dr. Andreas Eckert, Associate Professor, Dr. Stephen Gao, Professor, and Dr. Francisca Oboh-Ikuenobe, Professor, have been granted $50,000 from the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) and an additional $50,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The awarded funds will support a workshop in Guatemala to discuss the scientific importance and significance of drilling and coring the Lake Izabal Basin (LIB) in eastern Guatemala.

The workshop will cover two main components.  The first component being the discussion of drilling and coring the Polochic Fault and establishing a fault observatory at depth that will result in a better understanding of the loading state of the fault, seismogenic depth, the spatial and temporal evolution of the state of stress, and the fault’s relation to the proposed fault switch activity with the Motagua Fault. Having these discussions with experts on fault drilling and monitoring provides an excellent opportunity to learn about fault zone dynamics and answer important questions related to earthquake nucleation, propagation, and termination and to the process of stress transfer and its relation to possible fault switch activity between the two main branches of the plate boundary.  Such information is necessary for long term seismic hazard assessment. The second component being the discussion of coring five locations along the depocenter migration axis of the LIB, targeting the progradational infill of the basin. Drilling and obtaining overlapping cores along the progradational infill can provide a record spanning more than 1 My (potentially up to 10 My). Such record can be used to answer a multitude of questions related to climatic, biologic, and ecologic changes along the northern Neotropics. The workshop will allow many professional opportunities to scientists, students, and other groups that will be involved in the workshop.  It will also significantly benefit Guatemala, which is a developing country, by conducting attractive scientific research in the Lake Izabal Basin.

News on Gao's grant

Dr. Stephen Gao receives a grant to study the Williston Basin using gravity data

To map the internal structure of the Earth, both seismic and gravity methods are routinely used. The seismic method analyzes elastic waves produced by artificial or natural sources to image underground structures, similar in many ways to what medical professionals use to produce images of the structures inside the body. The gravity method measures subtle changes in the gravitational attraction force produced by variations in the density distribution of underground rock bodies. Combining the two methods can produce high resolution and highly reliable images of the Earth’s interior.

At Missouri S&T, we have extensive experience in the seismic method, but lack expertise in the area of gravity data collection and processing. The New Directions grant from the American Chemical Society (via the Petroleum Research Fund program) provides funding to Dr. Stephen Gao, Curator’s Distinguished Teaching Professor of Geology and Geophysics, to conduct an investigation of the Williston Basin using the gravity method. Dr. Gao and the two graduate students to be funded by the project will design new gravity data inversion approaches to effectively image the deep crustal layers in the basin. The grant is for a two year period with a total budget of $110,000.

The ultimate goal of the Williston Basin research effort at S&T is to image the 3-D structure of the hydrocarbon-bearing basin using a variety of techniques including seismic and gravity.  An additional goal is to understand the mechanism leading to the long-term, almost continuous subsidence of the basin by combining geophysical images with geodynamic modeling which will include constraints from geological observations. A team of researchers from S&T plans to submit a proposal in the near future to conduct such an interdisciplinary project.


Gao named Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor

Dr. Stephen S. Gao, professor of geology and geophysics at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has been named Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of geology and geophysics. Gao was officially recognized during Missouri S&T’s commencement ceremonies on Dec. 15.

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Petroleum Engineering Student appointed to board of curators

Ph.D. student, Avery Welker, was recently named as the student representative to the University of Missouri Board of Curators.  Avery was selected by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to serve as the student representative for all four campuses within the university system. 

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GGPE receives $6.5M in-kind donation

An unprecedented gift of propriety seismic data has been received from Houston-based oil and gas exploration companies Calico Jack Holdings LLC and Zion Energy, LLC.  This donation is the largest gift in-kind Missouri S&T history and consists of a 3-D geologic and seismic data survey of 85 square miles along the Gulf Coast in Texas.  

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Mining Ice from the moon

Dr. Leslie Gertsch, Associate Professor in Geological Engineering, shared her expertise on moon mining for an article involving the mining of moon ice.  The article written by Leonard David of Space.com has been an international sensation in the news world, being shared by Yahoo! News Canada and UK. 

Dr. Gertsch contributions include discussing  how mineral deposits that are both economical and usable, form.

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