Geology Projects 2012
A Geochemical Study of the Suitability of San Joaquin Valley Geological Formations for Carbon Sequestration
Faculty Mentors - Dr. Dirk Baron and Dr. Patrick Mickler
Concern that the rising level of CO2 gas in the atmosphere is causing global warming has led to
many efforts worldwide to reduce CO2 emissions. Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is one
new technology to accomplish this while still meeting energy demands of our growing economy.
CCS is the capture of CO2 from power plants and its injection as a supercritical fluid into deep
geologic formations. Two CCS projects are currently proposed for Kern County. One is the Hydrogen Energy of California
power plant (see http://hydrogenenergycalifornia.com/ ) near the Elk Hills Oil Field in western Kern
County. Carbon dioxide from the plant will be injected at Elk Hills. This has the added benefit that the supercritical CO2 helps produce residual oil, a process called Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). The other project is the Kimberlina Clean Energy Systems(http://www.cleanenergysystems.com/kimberlina.html ) power plant just north of Bakersfield, off Highway 99. Carbon
dioxide from this plant will be injected into a deep saline groundwater aquifer.
This project is an experimental study of the geochemical reactions between supercritical CO2 and
the geologic formations and fluids into which CO2 will be injected. This information is needed to
evaluate migration and leakage potential of supercritical CO2 injected deep underground and
possible adverse effects on the geologic formations such as loss of porosity or release of toxic trace
Participants will work closely with professors and college students on the selection of geologic
samples for the study from the California Well Core Repository on the CSUB campus and on the
design and initial implementation of the geochemical experiments. Participants will have a chance
to work in the state-of-the-art laboratories in the Department of Geological Sciences, including a
new scanning electron microscopy lab and the trace-element geochemistry lab. They will learn
about the new CCS technologies that are poised to have a large impact on our region and the
petroleum industry. They will use a wide variety of modern research instrumentation. This project
will go on for several years, later phases supported by the National Science Foundation, but a good
part of the groundwork will be done by this REVs-UP program.
More information about CCS from two workshops that the CSUB Geological Sciences department
2010 Workshop http://www.csub.edu/~dbaron/CSUB_CCS.htm
2009 Workshop http://www.csub.edu/~dbaron/CCS-workshop.htm
Watch a video about the Hydrogen Energy of California project here:
Sediment Core Analysis: Applications in Petroleum Geology
Faculty Mentors - Dr. Robert Horton
Thick sequences of sediments in the San Joaquin Valley of California are host to the regionís major oil resources. This project will provide an introduction to the techniques that geologists use to characterize sediments and their potential as petroleum reservoirs. Participants will then work on applied research project in petroleum geology with sediment samples from the San Joaquin Valley oil fields. Participants will use the CSUB Geology Departmentís state-of-the-art research labs including the new scanning electron microscopy lab. We will also visit Chevronís Kern River Oil Field. Participants will be involved in cutting-edge research of significance to the local petroleum community. We will be studying core samples from local oil fields to determine the nature and distribution of the pore spaces in which oil resides and for their potential for CO2 sequestration.
SEM image of sand grains from a Kern County oil field showing an open pore network favorable for the accumulation and extraction of petroleum.
Forecasting water supplies into the San Joaquin Valley from the Sierra Nevada throughout the 21st Century.
Faculty Mentor - Dr. Rob Negrini
Few residents of the San Joaquin Valley realize that, prior to modern irrigation diversion, nearby Tulare Lake was the largest fresh water lake in the U.S. west of the Great Lakes. The water supply balance model of Atwater et al. (1986) shows that water levels in this lake were directly related to water supplies delivered to the San Joaquin Valley by four large Sierra rivers (Kern, Tule, Kaweah, and Kings). Therefore, detailed lake-level records of Tulare Lake can be used to infer a connection between valley water supplies and past changes in climate that resulted in variations in rainfall in the Sierra Nevada. Once discovered, this connection can then be used to forecast future water supplies in response to climate change expected during the coming decades.
Participants in this study will describe and analyze ancient shoreline deposits of Tulare Lake, CA toward the refined lake-level record referred to above. Skills learned will include those commonly used by hydrogeologists and petroleum geologists including describing core and trenches, taking radiocarbon samples, analyzing fossil remains, interpreting ancient environments from lake sediments (e.g., beach vs. deepwater), scanning electron microscopy, and geologic mapping, both surface and subsurface.
The results of this work will be presented at a national or regional meeting of one of the three national geological societies. Participants will be authors or coauthors on these presentations, an accomplishment that looks great on college applications. Interested high school students should also realize that your hard work will give you a leg up on applications for the $20,000 scholarships that select junior and senior CSUB Geology majors will receive who join the CSUB Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology recently awarded by the National Science Foundation to the Department of Geological Sciences.
The Late Pleistocene History of Summer Lake, Oregon: The Environmental Setting at the time of Earliest Human Settlement 14,000 years ago.
Faculty Mentor - Dr. Peter Wigand
Abstract: Summer Lake in south central Oregon lying between Bend and Lakeview has been explored archaeologically since the 1930s. The cluster of rock shelters known as Paisley Caves (Image 1), lie at the southeastern corner of the Summer Lake Basin. More recently archaeological field schools conducted by the University of Oregon in 2006 and 2007 found human coprolites (Image 2) that were later dated by a Danish team. The ancient feces, the oldest dated to 14,300 BP, contain human DNA and admixtures of the DNA of foxes, coyotes, and wolves. The environmental context of this site has been the focus of a great deal of discussion since the discovery of the human coprolites. In October of 2009 and October of 2010 two new sets of cores were taken (Image 3). These cores duplicate, in part, the record previously recovered from Summer Lake by Wigand, but contain younger sediments from the upper portion of the record that had not been encountered earlier. This portion of the record is crucial for the reconstruction of the paleoenvironmental setting that characterized the Summer Lake Basin during the period of first human occupation. The ultimate question regarding the environmental context for Paisley Rock Shelters at the time that human occupation began is whether there was a deep or shallow lake in the basin lying before the cave, or whether, instead, marsh characterized much of the area. The students and teachers participating in this project this coming summer will actually conduct analysis of the ancient pollen preserved in the cores to focus on one or both of the following problems:
1. Testing the current reconstructions of lake-level history. Use data derived from both aquatic pollen and algae to determine whether a lake or marsh characterized the Summer Lake Basin when humans first entered the area.
2. If marsh characterized the area, what was itís extent. Pollen and algae data will also be used to determine whether marsh may have characterized extensive areas surrounding the lake.
| These Web pages and any associated Adobe Acrobat Files are designed as supporting material
for the respective projects. Please feel free to contact the program director with any
questions you might have.