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for Basin Analysis (Geol 4131),

fall 2008


  1. Introduction

  2. Example problem

  3. Plagiarism

1. Introduction

The aims of the course projects are (1) to write a scientific proposal for either a field-based data acquisition reconnaissance and survey or a theoretical study and (2) to present and defend the proposal to the rest of the class for their and my combined evaluation.  So, final scores will reflect both our evaluations combined.  Forty percent of your final grade will be based on both the Written portion (20%) as well as the Oral presentation (20%).   I intend for you to reflect deeply as you explore some key mechanisms of basin evolution in a basin of your choice.  I hope you will learn through your own experience by (1) researching this topic, (2) interacting with me while you develop the topic and by (3) communicating your proposal to the class at the end of the semester.

Your proposal should distinguish clearly the scientific significance as well as the importance an impact of your  project to society.  You may want to link in an educational outreach segment in your project to include education activities with local schools in your areas. Perhaps you can include funds to have a real-time web-cast of your experiments once a day, money to visit schools or bring out students to your sites of work  etc. 

I suggest you choose a basin that is relevant to your personal professional  interests.  For example, you may want to choose a basin of economic interest, if your career goal is to work in the oil and gas industry.  You may choose a basin with a large human dependence on underground water if you are interested in hydrogeology.  You may even choose an oceanic basin if you are interested in deep ocean studies.

Some examples of economically important basins include: San Juan, Newfoundland/Grand Banks, Black Sea, Exmouth Plateau, Arkoma, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Permian Basin of West Texas, Michigan Basin, Black Warrior, Campos, Po, Persian Gulf, etc.

Oceanic examples may include:  the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean , Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea etc.

Continental examples of environmental interest may include: Mojave desert, Salton Trough, Lake Baikal, Ebro, etc.

As a guide to proposal writing download the following guidelines from the National Science Foundation,

An abridged version (only p. 16-51)  is available HERE

You will only need to hand in the following portions of the proposal, as indicated in the Grant Proposal Guide:

(1) Project Summary (2) Table of Contents, (3) Content (no description of prior support) (4) Budget  Note that Fringe benefits are 25% (none for graduate students) and that university overhead is about (47%e.g. salary and travel) but does not apply to big equipment items (>$5000).

You will work in teams of two-to-three people.  You will also be expected to share in giving a 5-minute oral presentation on overhead transparencies or Power Point  at the end of the semester.  A questioning period from the audience up to 5 minutes long will follow the oral presentation. You will be expected to submit an electronic version of your work written in a compatible software I can use to grade your document.  Please note that you are responsible to assuring that your PowerPoint presentation can be projected using the classroom computer. Attendance at all presentations by all students is required.

You will need to start researching key papers on your basin ASAP.  Start by doing a literature search at the LSU libraries Website with a geological data base such as GeoREF, or the search engines at the different geological society web pages (AAPG, GSA, SEG, SEPM, SPE etc.).  Then, copy 20-30 papers of relevance to your basin.  These must be papers and not short 1-page abstracts  presented at professional meetings. (Petroleum Engineers are exempted if they are referencing papers from professional meetings.  Extended Abstracts from SEG international meetings are also exempted from this requirement)   These papers must be available for you to consult using our campus library so choose papers published in key journals that are in the stacks available in Middleton Library. For example the journals: Geology, AAPG Bulletin, Tectonics, GSA Bulletin, Journal of Geophysical Research, Geophysical Marine Researches, Structural Geology, Nature, Science etc.  Note that there are electronically published  journals available and and as well but not all u.   It is up to you to find a well-documented basin.

Your references list will be due 25th September as will a one-page outline for your basin.  I will review the outline you hand in and provide feedback. 

I will ask you to meet with me  to talk over your project after I have a chance to correct your one-page outline and list of refences.  I will schedule short (15-minute) meetings between 9.00 a.m. and 4.30 p.m.).

2 An example problem to solve

An interesting research project addresses debates and conflicts in the field and proposes a method to solve the problem and advance our understanding of the field.

Solutions to problems can be addressed creatively. One way is to suggest a scientific experiment, either on land, in space, or at sea.

For example, say you wanted to distinguish between pure and simple shearing as a mechanism for the formation of the, say, Red Sea.  Each of these mechanisms has certain predictions regarding the symmetry and asymmetry of earthquakes, types of geological units, heat flow, gravity signatures, the local magnetic anomalies, surface evolution etc.

To test this asymmetry you could propose to set up a seismic network in the region by deploying a set of earthquake seismometers to listen for earthquakes.  How many people will it take?  What will be their salaries?  What type of equipment will you buy or borrow? How much time will it take? How many months of salaries will you need?  Who will comprise the team?  Are there local universities who may already have such a program and would like to collaborate?  What about the cost of transport, lodging, meals.  Will you want to put these seismometers on land or underwater? If you want to put them underwater you will need to include the cost of a marine vessel to put them up and retrieve them.  What about design engineers?  Or, will you buy the equipment from a third party, off the shelf?

And then there is the need to maintain the units with repeated field visits over time, data collection, analysis, presentation of initial results at national conferences, cost of publishing of final results etc.

Another way to test the asymmetry would be to propose a wholly marine expedition.

If you plan to drill on a floating platform estimate at least 3-4 million dollars per month of vessel and crew time.  If you plan to drill an exploratory well, you can count on +$10 million or hundreds of millions if you want to be in deep (>1000m) water.

However, it might be more reasonable to start with an overview of the whole basin before committing to looking at just one point (well).  So, why don't we propose two weeks of ship time to say, collect a regional grid of 2D seismic data. (3D seismic data can wait for later studies on a block-by-block basis).  Well, you had better include a simple map of where you want the ship to go. What will be the orientation of the tracks? Across the expected faults or along the expected faults, or random? Justify.  Once you have the data, who will analyze the seismic data?  Will you need a structural geologist, a stratigrapher, a reservoir engineer?

Do you want to collect rock samples along the seafloor, by using a remotely-operated underwater vehicle that could collect magnetic, gravity, electromagnetic field values, and sonar images?

What, if however, you just wanted to do this study by looking at the rocks on either side of the Red Sea. What could you learn from these samples to tell you about the mechanism of formation of your basin? A classical approach would be to  map the area by sending geologists out along with GPS units, water, food and a jeep? 

Do you want to  buy commercial satellite or plane time to first collect remote sensing information of the landscape to develop time-lapse radar, and hyperspectral images.  Then the field geologist could calibrate the remote imagery at critical locations to remotely map the geology and study it quantitatively..... See.. the possibilities are only limited by your creativity.

Your references list will be due 25th September as will a one-page outline for your basin.  I will review the outline you hand in and provide feedback. 

Please allow free time during the week when I can be sure to make an appointment to meet with you to talk over your project.  I will schedule short (15-minute) meetings between 9.00 a.m. and 4.30 p.m.

Two additional meetings and feedback sessions will be held when (1) you have nearly completed your written project and (2) when you have organized your visual materials for the oral presentation

Up to now, I have emphasized a mechanism of formation problem.  You could also address other problems more related to the Petroleum Engineering Field.  And then propose how to solve these particular issues. Of course, P.E. problems may be more directly applicable to industry and that would be OK for your project.  If you do propose a P.E. problem, then be aware that it STILL HAS TO BE an IMPORTANT PROBLEM.  If the National Science Foundation is willing to give you taxpayer's money it will be to study significant problems in petroleum engineering that will have a benefit to the engineering field and to society.