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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, April 26, 1996

Geologists Gather to Model Underground Geology

LAWRENCE--Geologists from throughout Europe, Australia, and North America will gather here for three days in May to compare notes on computer programs that depict the earth's underground geology.

According to geologist Lynn Watney, of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas, the meeting will bring together 65 geologists invited from academia, government, and private industry to compare complex computer programs that produce models of sedimentary deposits. These models show how rocks are deposited and are particularly helpful in aiding oil and gas exploration and in the development and understanding of groundwater aquifers.

"This workshop will give scientists an opportunity to compare models, and to compare how well these models simulate what's really going on," said Watney. "These simulations will help us understand past geologic events and are useful in resource evaluation and studies of global change--sea level history, climate, and ocean circulation."

Teams of the researchers have already been given geologic information about two locations--one set of data describes sandstones and shales from the continental shelf, offshore from Atlantic City, New Jersey; the other data, which includes limestone deposits, is from the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean. The rocks in those areas were deposited in the Miocene Period of geologic history, or within the past 20 million years.

The researchers were given descriptions of rocks and geophysical data from the area. Once the data are entered, the models depict the ways sediment is deposited, operating in much the same way as other computer simulations, such as flight simulators.

During the first two days of the meeting, the researchers will demonstrate how their models work and compare the ways their models depict the depositing of rocks in the two study areas. The third day will be devoted to discussing new methods of acquiring data from the rocks. Results will be published following the meeting.

"Many of these models have never really been tested on a common set of data," said Watney. "By working with existing sets of data from actual locations, we'll see if the models agree with what the data has shown. It's a reality check."

The workshop, scheduled for May 15-17, is sponsored by the Kansas Geological Survey, the KU Energy Research Center, the KU Department of Geology, Elf Aquitaine Production, Arco Inc., the Institut Francais du Petrole, the KU International Studies office, the Society of Sedimentary Geology, the International Assocation of Mathematical Geologists, Apple Computers, Microtech Computers, Silicon Graphics, and Sun Microsystems. Several of the models are sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.

Story by Rex Buchanan, (785) 864-3965

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