Undergraduate Research Programs in Geology

“Hydroclimatology and Environmental Factors Affecting Volume Fluctuation of Lake Theo, Caprock Canyons State Park, Texas”. Kaylee Lawrence and Tim Walsh, Ph.D., Wayland Baptist University

Lake Theo at Caprock Canyons State Park, TX has visually fluctuated dramatically in the last 15 years. In order to quantify volume changes monthly Landsat imagery was analyzed for the total surface area and bathymetry was acquired using sonar with GPS. Topography of the area was acquired using basic surveying methods and all of this data was then combined in ESRI ArcGIS software to summarize the volumetric changes. Factors playing a role in the volume fluctuation may include precipitation, groundwater influx, evaporation rates, and soil infiltration. Precipitation and climate history from the surrounding area were analyzed primarily with data from the Texas Tech Mesonet System. Soil type was examined to evaluate infiltration rates and all results were used to estimate groundwater input. Although an obvious correlation between precipitation and lake volume is present, other factors, especially groundwater contribution, play a large role in controlling lake volumes.

Solving a horizontal drilling quandary: using alternative techniques on modern drilling operations. Doan II, D.W.; Walsh, T.R. School of Mathematics and Sciences, Wayland Baptist University, Plainview, TX USA.

This research is being conducted to evaluate alternative methods to determine borehole positioning in "real-time" during horizontal drilling. To aid the drill operator, techniques need to be incorporated to ensure that the drill bit stays within the correct horizon, or "pay zone". Both destructive and nondestructive techniques are currently being employed to obtain data for geosteering. Currently, "real-time: Gamma Ray (GR) data provides information, but may present problematic results while drilling horizontally. Drill cuttings from the well, inspected by optical microscopy, lead to determinate results as well. Gas Chromatography (GS) deployed on the mud line can indicate the presence of hydrocarbon shows from the horizon. On occasion, no distinctive position within the hydrocarbon pay zone can be surmised. Other techniques need to be evaluated to obtain additional data while drilling in the pay zones. Possible techniques include X-ray Diffraction (XRD), X-ray Fluorescence (XSF), Raman Spectroscopy techniques, and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). FTIR spectroscopy is being tested as an alternative method for locating the stratigraphic position within the horizon. By using an infrared absorption spectrum, this method can quantify and qualify data by distinguishing chemical bonds. This method allows for examination of compounds, elemental make-up, and trace elements from the horizon. Employing other techniques or methods to remain in the pay zone will ensure that time, money, and manpower is not wasted during horizontal drilling efforts.