Discovery is key to our program

Our students are engaged in several diverse projects that provide highly recognized insights on the nature of petroleum geology, the environment, geomorphology, geophysics, paleontology and sedimentology, and igneous petrology. We foster student involvement in all of our research endeavors. Most of our classes incorporate our research findings, exposing all of our students to research. Furthermore, we support a number of undergraduate researchers who are directly responsible for pursuing significant results. We are now seeking qualified and motivated graduate researchers to tackle a number of independent avenues within our research expertise.

Petroleum Geology | Paleobiology, Paleoclimatology, and Sedimentology| Geophysics 

Petrology and Geochemistry


Undergraduate Research

Our faculty participate in UGROW and EURECA during the summer and academic year, respectively. These are interdisciplinary research programs that provide monetary and infrastructural support to undergraduates. We are also active in advising student research through independent study (GEOS 491X) courses.

Students may also embark on research with the Texas Stream Team at Midwestern State University, a network of certified students and professionals dedicated to protecting and promoting environmental stewardship of the Wichita Falls waterways.


Graduate Research

The Robert L. Bolin Graduate School of Geology requires students to complete an original research project and thesis in one of the above areas of concentration. Prospective graduate students will seek out an area of concentration as part of the application process. Under faculty guidance, graduate researchers will engage in a well-defined topic that provides unique and novel insight, potentially leading to publication in the scientific literature.


Areas of Expertise
Petroleum Geology
W. Scott Meddaugh

Dr. Meddaugh’s current research interests are focused on several aspects of petroleum geology and reservoir characterization including:

  • Impact of geostatistics, reservoir modeling, heterogeneity, uncertainty, and human bias on reservoir performance forecasts, particularly for conventional oil and gas reservoirs and also on unconventional shale gas and shale oil.
  • Efficient incorporation of uncertainty in reservoir modeling, performance forecasting, and reservoir development decisions.
  • Interaction of reservoir rock and fluid with injected steam – impact of continuous injection and single vs. multiple cycle, cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) in non-clastic reservoirs. Application of reactive transport modeling (RTM) to understand the mineralogical and fluid changes induced by the injected steam as well as the impact steam injection on porosity and permeability.
  • Improved methods of accounting for historical production data uncertainty (e.g. allocation factors, low frequency well tests, “missing” data particularly for mature fields) particularly as it impacts decline curve-based assessments and dynamic model history matching.
  • Application of chemostratigraphy (core-based or cuttings-based) and stable isotopes as a reservoir characterization tool for carbonate reservoirs and for possible use as “sweet-spot” predictor (productivity and/or fracture susceptibility) for unconventional shale gas and shale oil plays.
  • Appropriate scale for characterization of permeability used in geostatistical reservoir models; particularly carbonate reservoirs where large permeability multipliers are typically needed during history matching.

More details: Dr. Meddaugh's ResearchGate Page

Key Research Facility: The Robert L. Bolin Petroleum Laboratory


Paleobiology, Paleoclimatology, and Sedimentology
Anna M. Weiss

Key Research Facility: Paleoecology and Sedimentology Lab

Dr. Weiss uses a variety of quantitative and qualitative techniques to understand how communities (primarily reefs and other benthic ecosystems) respond to climate change in deep time and the present. She is also interested in how taphonomic biases and changes in global sea level influence the preservation and recovery of marginal marine fossil deposits in the geological record. Her current projects include:

Survival of coral ecosystems during the early Cenozoic: The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is one of the best analogues for modern climate change. Studying coral communities before and after this event allows us to test hypotheses about coral adaptation and survival during times of massive climate upheaval. Dr. Weiss uses a combination of paleontology, facies analysis, chemostratigraphy, and biostatistics to understand how late Paleocene warming impacted shallow marine ecosystems in Slovenia. She is also collecting and analyzing ecological data to document the recovery of reefs in the region in the middle Eocene.

Sedimentological expression of biogeochemical changes on a carbonate platform:  An enigmatic erosive surface at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary on the Adriatic Carbonate Platform suggests that pore-scale biogeochemical changes resulted in local dissolution of sediments. Characterizing this erosive feature and the sediments around it provides information about local changes in ocean chemistry during rapid climate change events. Dr. Weiss is addressing this from a multi-disciplinary perspective including field observations, isotopic and elemental geochemistry, SEM, and cathodoluminesence.

Carbonate budgets as a measure of reef health: Coral reefs are biological systems, but they are also geomorphic structures. Processes like erosion are important to the continued accretion and structural integrity of the reef framework. Dr. Weiss is using a modified version of the ReefBudget method to complement biological measures of reef health in Belize. This entails a combination of benthic surveys, measuring sediment accumulation and transport, calculating biomass of bioeroders, as well as in-depth petrographic studies of dead corals to quantify the role of macro- and micro-borers in bioerosion.

Paleoecology of Turneffe Atoll: For nearly 95,000 years, reef communities in the Caribbean showed relative stability. However, in the last 100 years, these reefs have begun to collapse. Understanding the cause of reef change in Belize is necessary in order to properly manage reefs, though the relative importance of stressors such as temperature and pollution in reef degradation has been hotly debated. Dr. Weiss is using cores and sediment samples from Turneffe Atoll to create high resolution records of ecology, growth and paleoclimate history of the reef, and to look for evidence of past ecosystem resilience.

Water quality monitoring using foraminifera as bioindicators: Dr. Weiss is employing the FORAM index (an inexpensive way to assess reef health and water quality using the taxonomic composition of foraminifera on the reef) to supplement reef health and water quality monitoring efforts in Belize.


Geophysics
Andrew Katumwehe

Dr. Katumwehe's research is in two principal areas of tectonophysics and near surface geophysics based on problems, spanning the very shallow subsurface to deeper crustal-scale. He is engaged in examining the geodynamic evolution of active and inactive continental rifts.

Other geophysical applications 

Mineral exploration: The integration of geophysical data such as magnetics, radiometrics, gravity, induced polarization, seismic and time-domain electromagnetic data for resource evaluation.

Engineering and archeological geophysics: Geotechnical investigations based on non-destructive testing of infrastructure based on the use of seismic, microgravity, electric and GPR data. The work highlights the importance of geophysical detection of underground utilities, voids, cavities and tunnels, dam safety as well as evaluation of seismic hazards.

Archaeological exploration: Acquisition and analysis of 3D geophysical data (GPR and resistivity) to produce high quality images of buried antiquities. This non-invasive tool preserves these sites from environmental and cultural hazards.

Hydro-geophysics: Mapping and characterizing groundwater aquifer systems and contaminants based on geo-electrical measurements, influenced mainly by pore-fluid. Evaluating the geothermal economic potential by integrating gravity, time-domain EM, magnetics, micro seismicity and magneto-telluric data.

Oil and gas: Evaluating the thermal maturity of oil and gas reservoirs in rift system and other frontier basins by using the unconventional method of hydrocarbon basin analysis by integrating potential field geophysical methods (gravity and magnetics) and basin modelling approach to determine crustal thickness a proxy for heat flow and source rock maturation. 

Environmental and agro-geophysics: Mapping leachate plumes from contaminated former landfill sites and mapping UXO’S. Evaluating the radio isotopes (potassium, thorium and uranium) as key indicators in soil productivity.

Ongoing Projects

  • Tectonics: Evaluating how extensional strain is localized and subsequent rift segmentation during rift initiation, rift propagation, segmentation and termination.
  • Thermal structure and crustal thickness beneath the Albertine Graben: Observations from airborne, satellite gravity and borehole data.
  • The role of pre-existing lithospheric scale fabric in continental rifts: Integrating airborne gravity data, magnetic and satellite gravity data to assess rift evolution.
  • Petroleum basin evaluation: Understanding basin architecture, thermal anomalies and petroleum systems based on the un-conventional methods for hydrocarbon basin analysis by integrating potential field geophysical methods (gravity and magnetics), sedimentary stratigraphy and basin modelling approach to determine heat flow which potentially serve as a proxy indicator of source rock maturation within continental rift basins.
  • Lithospheric structure characterization: Assessing the crust beneath the Mesozoic Chilwa Alkaline Province in Southern Malawi and Northeastern Mozambique based on using airborne magnetic data and satellite gravity.
  • Void detection: Finding low-density cavities using a combined VP, VS and Electrical Resistivity a contribution to application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems.

  


Petrology and Geochemistry
Jonathan D. Price

Dr. Price’s research focuses on the origin and nature of rocks (petrology) and the chemical systems from which they originate. He’s interested in magmatic materials and processes associated with volcanoes and their subterranean counterparts, plutons. His most recent projects utilize field exploration and mapping, geochemical analysis, and computer modeling to evaluate the crystalline rocks of southern Oklahoma, including the Wichita Mountains, the volcanic materials of the Trans-Pecos, west Texas, and the relatively young volcanoes of central Oregon. In addition to magmatism, Dr. Price is also interested in mineral growth and geochemistry in a variety of geologic settings.

Ongoing projects

  • Refinements to laser-ablation microanalysis and X-ray Powder Diffraction
  • Evaluation of subsurface plutonic rocks in Southern Oklahoma
  • Alteration of volcanic products in and around the Dalquest Desert Research Station, west Texas
  • Detailed (meter-scaled) evaluation of igneous intrusions
  • Silicic volcanism in the central Oregon Cascades
  • Assessing crystallization pathways through igneous microstructure 

More details: Dr. Price's ResearchGate Page  Dr. Price's Google Scholar Page  Dr. Price's Webpage

Key Research Facility: Petrology and Geochemistry Lab