3E Research Symposium at the Bureau of Economic Geology


By Tim Dixon

31 October 2019

The Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) at the University of Texas Austin held a research symposium on the 18 October. The theme was a favourite of the Director Scott Tinker – ‘Energy, Economics and the Environment’, with the Bureau operating in the intersection of these three areas. The event showcased their latest work in this intersection, drawing from the eleven research consortia that BEG run. These are a model of best practice in industry research clubs, with each being funded by consortia of interested energy companies. The one we know best is the Gulf Coast Carbon Centre (GCCC), led by Sue Hovorka, operating for over twenty years with nine companies funding BEG’s research into the ‘S’ and the ‘U’ of CCUS. BEG’s Tip Meckel gave a summary of their latest work on CCUS, its global relevance for climate change, the offshore storage potential globally, and the business opportunities for industry going forward in the USA as stimulated by 45Q and the Californian Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Because of these incentives and the global need for emissions reduction, Tip concluded that “CCUS could be a large wealth creation opportunity in geosciences”, and “that is an industry and a future that everyone can get behind”.

Other research partnerships presenting including the relatively new Centre for Integrated Seismicity Research, with its ‘TexNet’ network of seismic monitoring stations to better understand seismicity across Texas from natural and induced seismicity.

The Director of the US Geological Survey, Jim Reilly, provided some interesting stories drawing from his experiences as an astronaut, applied to the work of USGS including the use of ‘big data’ at USGS for geological information purposes. Scott Tinker also added some global energy perspectives with nice films of his investigations in developing countries around the world.

The day concluded with the opening and dedication of the new Core Research Facility, associated new Laboratories, and the Stoneburner Family Rock Garden. This latter is a delightful outdoor feature showcasing the different and interesting geology across the large state of Texas. 

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