Research

Research Programs

Economic Geology

The Center for Mineral Resources Science brings together the expertise of eight active academic and research staff members. With approximately 50 graduate students, the research group is one of the largest of its kind in the United States.

The center’s mission is to undertake and promote high quality, field- and laboratory-based, collaborative research on crustal processes and environments of mineral deposit formation, and to educate and train highly qualified personnel for careers in the mining industry, academia, or government.

Engineering Geology and Geotechnics

The engineering geology and geotechnics specialty in the Geological Engineering program encompasses the application of geological principles to solve engineering problems. Typical work assignments might include mapping and analysis of a landslide, design of a stabilization scheme for a steep rock cliff, evaluation of gravel or crushed rock resources, siting of various components of a housing development, investigation for a foundation of a tall building or dam, assessment of the activity level of a fault trace, and use of GIS to plan communities. In industry, the engineering geologist serves as an important link between the structure designer, the builder, and the earth on which they build. Academic training in engineering geology and geotechnics encompasses geology, natural hazards, construction and site investigation, GIS, remote sensing methods, numerical techniques and engineering calculations.

Graduates of our program are employed by engineering consulting firms, state and national geological surveys, state highway departments, cement producers, quarry operators, academic teaching and research positions. Our department has one of the most widely recognized Geological Engineering programs in the world, with excellent placement records of graduates and strong external funding of research projects.

Hydrology

The Hydrologic Science and Engineering Program at Colorado School of Mines is an interdisciplinary graduate program designed to provide students with a solid background in quantitative hydrology and allow them to explore specialties within related fields, with particular emphasis on areas of expertise of the participating faculty. We offer programs of study in fundamental hydrologic science and applied hydrology with engineering applications.

Petroleum Systems

The education of students to enter careers in the petroleum industry has been a traditional strength of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering. The department has produced many geologists who have made important contibutions to the industry, nationally and internationally, in technical and managerial position. As the petroleum industry had changed, so have their requirements by industry for qualified graduates. The Petroleum Geoscience Group recognizes these changes and modifies its curriculum accordingly. Today, students are provided with training in geology, geophysics, petroleum engineering, petrophysics and geochemistry, built on a solid foundation in the basic sciences, computer science, and mathematics. To cope with the increasing demands of a global economy, students are encouraged to become knowlegeable in economics, political science, risk analysis, and foreign languages.

Records of student placement over the past several years indicate our graduates became employed by national and international oil and gas companies, private consulting enterprised, and government service. The annual return of many company recruiters to the department, as well as our historical record in placing graduates, speaks well for our success in educating students for employment in the petroleum industry.

Underground Construction and Tunneling

The underground community at Mines is comprised of a collaborative, interdisciplinary group of faculty and students from civil engineering, geology and geological engineering, mining engineering and mechanical engineering, as well as geophysics and computer science, with a collective interest in education and research in underground engineering.

Research Centers

Advanced Subsurface Earth Resource Models

The I/UCRC for Advanced Subsurface Earth Resource Models seeks to transform the way geoscience data is used to locate subsurface earth resources. The purpose of the center is directed toward research challenges in the development of 3-D subsurface geological models for mineral deposits, particularly as these models integrate diverse geoscience data to inform decision making and minimize geological risk, beginning with locating and mining subsurface earth resources and continuing through mine closure and environmental remediation.

The research center brings the innovative research capabilities of two leading universities to develop high-impact solutions helping exploration and mining companies to minimize drilling and to increase the chances of exploration success

Center for Mineral Resources Science

The Center for Mineral Resources Science brings together the expertise of eight active academic and research staff members. With approximately 50 graduate students, the research group is one of the largest of its kind in the United States.

The center’s mission is to undertake and promote high quality, field- and laboratory-based, collaborative research on crustal processes and environments of mineral deposit formation, and to educate and train highly qualified personnel for careers in the mining industry, academia, or government.

Chevron Center of Research Excellence

The Chevron Center of Research Excellence (CoRE) is an innovative industry-academic partnership between Colorado School of Mines and Chevron that promotes world-class research and education; the center collaborates closely with Chevron Energy Technology Company (ETC) researchers. CoRE focuses on scientific and technical challenges faced by the energy industry, specializing in deepwater, fluvial, and shallow marine stratigraphy using a quantitative outcrop characterization research approach. The majority of CoRE’s research involves fieldwork.

Each year, CoRE supports 4-6 graduate students pursing M.S. or Ph.D. degrees which entail research in one of the center’s focus areas.

Integrated GroundWater Modeling Center

The Integrated GroundWater Modeling Center (IGWMC) is an internationally oriented information, education, and research center for groundwater modeling. The IGWMC advises on groundwater modeling problems, distributes groundwater modeling software, organizes short courses, workshops and conferences, and conducts research in practical, applied areas of groundwater hydrology and modeling. IGWMC researchers and colleagues provide technical assistance on problems related to groundwater modeling, develop hydrologically-oriented classroom content, and are active in groundwater education in the community. As a focal point for groundwater professionals, the center supports and advances the appropriate use of quality-assured models in groundwater resources protection and management.

Councils, Consortia and Agencies

Green River Research Consortium

The Green River Research Consortium seeks to investigate:

  • Green River Petroleum System
  • Green River Facies
  • Stratigraphy
  • Mineralogy
  • Source Rocks
  • Fracture Analysis and Trends
  • Petrophysics
  • Trapping Mechanisms
  • Field Studies
  • Geo-models
  • 3-D Seismic
  • Outcrop studies and calibration to subsurface
Mudrocks and Tight Oil Characterization Consortium

The Mudrocks and Tight Oil Characterization Consortium seeks to define the petroleum systems and the genetically related petroleum accumulations surrounding mudrock, tight oil and halo oil fields.

Niobrara Research Consortium

The Niobrara Research Consortium investigates:

  • Petroleum System Approach
  • Niobrara Facies and Structure
  • Ichnology
  • Rock Properties
  • Mineralogy
  • Source Rocks
  • Fracture Analysis and Trends
  • Petrophysics
  • Trapping Mechanisms
  • Field Studies (Silo, Buck Peak)
  • Geo models
  • Reservoir Model
  • 3-D Seismic
Petroleum Technology Transfer Council

The Petroleum Technology Transfer Council is a forum for the transfer of technology and best practices within the oil and gas community.

Potential Gas Committee

The Potential Gas Committee is the only existing group that assesses the future supply of natural gas in the U.S. The committee’s first assessment was published in 1964, and it publishes a new assessment every two years. More than 800 experienced volunteer geoscientists and engineers contributed to PGC assessments. The most recent assessment was produced by ~80 current PGC members. These assessments inform decision-making and help build compelling cases for investment in natural gas.

The committee assesses technically recoverable gas resources in conventional and unconventional (tight, shale, coalbed) reservoirs.

Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America

With the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), the Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Research and Development Program was established. Under contract with the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) was selected to manage this 10-year, $375 million program designed to enable the development of new technologies necessary to produce more secure, abundant and affordable domestic energy supplies. The Program was established to help meet the nation’s growing need for hydrocarbon resources produced from reservoirs in America.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, RPSEA manages three program areas under this contract, Ultra-Deepwater, Unconventional Resources and Small Producer. Each program’s funding is set annually to invest in oil and gas research and development projects. The Ultra-Deepwater Program is $17.5 million, the Unconventional Resources Program is $16.25 million, and the Small Producer Program is $3.75 million. The funding of projects flows through requests for proposals issued, proposals submitted and projects selected as awards.

Through these awards, RPSEA succeeds in identifying, funding and facilitating the development of the most appropriate and necessary research to maximize the value of our nation’s domestic resources. This is through increasing supply, reducing cost, increasing efficiency of production and exploration, improving safety and minimizing environmental impacts.

This industry-led cooperative research and development network of natural gas and oil experts working together in an open, innovative framework provides an effective model for advancing our nation’s capability to find and produce the energy we need. Bridging the gap between industry needs and researchers’ solutions ensures a ready market for new technology that result in better solutions for industry-wide use. RPSEA is formed by a consortium of premier U.S. energy research universities, industry, independent research organizations and state and federal agencies.

Sedimentary Analogs Database Research Program

The Sedimentary Analogs Database and Research Consortium (SAnD) carries out geologic studies of the processes, tectonics, and quantitative morphology of basins around the world. SAnD research emphasizes the use of mega-merged 3D seismic data sets for quantitative seismic geomorphologic study of the basin fill, evaluation of source-to-sink relationships between the shelf, slope and deep basin and analyses of the influence of tectonics and fluids (such as gas hydrates) on the evolution of these complex continental margin settings. The program is funded by a consortium of hydrocarbon companies and supported by numerous software vendors and foreign energy ministries. The SAnD is widely considered the world’s premier research group in the application of seismic geomorphology to reservoir characterizations.