Peter Eichhubl's research combines the fields of fault and fracture mechanics and low-temperature geochemistry addressing deformation mechanisms of the upper crust, structural control of mass and heat transfer in sedimentary basins, effects of chemical mass transfer on the mechanical and hydraulic behavior of fractures and faults, and the chemical interaction between fluids and minerals. Dr. Eichhubl's research is of applied interest to groundwater management and the exploration and production of hydrocarbons. Fundamental aspects of the research have implications for the seismic and aseismic deformation of the Earth's upper crust and for the interaction of subsurface fluids with the atmosphere and biosphere.

Areas of Expertise

Fault and fracture mechanics, diagenesis and low-temp. geochemistry, fluid flow and transfer processes in sedimentary basins, deformation mechanisms of the upper crust, structural control of mass and heat transfer in sedimentary basins, effects of chemical mass transfer on the mechanical and hydraulic behavior of fractures and faults, chemical interaction between fluids and minerals


Research Locations



Current Research Programs & Projects

Fracture research and application consortium (FRAC): fundamental and applied research on naturally fractured reservoirs (with Steve Laubach, Julia Gale, BEG, Jon Olson, UT-CPGE; Randy Marrett, UT-DGS) ( view )Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security (CFSES): DOE-sponsored research on subsurface CO2 sequestration (with Larry Lake, Sanjay Shrinivasan, Mary Wheeler, Matt Balhoff, Nick Hayman, Nicolas Espinoza and others UT-CPGE; Tom Dewers and others, S ( view )

Shell UT Unconventional Research (SUTUR) - Multi-phase physics and matrix-fracture transfer in partially mineralized and propped fractures (with Masha Prodanovic, PGE)

DOE-BES Predicting fracture porosity evolution in sandstone (with Steve Laubach, BEG)

RPSEA Relationships between Induced Seismicity and Fluid Injection: Development of strategies to Manage Fluid Disposal in Shale Hydrocarbon Plays (with Cliff Frohlich, Julia Gale, Jon Olson PGE)

NETL: Geomechanics of CO2 Reservoir Seals, with Jon Olson (UT-CPGE), Pania Newell, Tom Dewers (Sandia National Labs)

Microstructure of deformation bands (industry sponsored)

JSG seed grant: stable isotopes of fracture cements


Associate Editor, AAPG Bulletin, AAPG (2013 - Present)

JSG Energy Theme leader, JSG (2011 - Present)

Member, Graduate student admissions and support, JSG (2011 - Present)

Associate Editor, GSA Bulletin, GSA (2006 - Present)

Postdocs

Christopher Landry
My research interests revolve around prediction of fluid migration in porous and fractured porous media, including the study of non-continuum, multiphase, and reactionary flows with a focus on pore-scale processes. My expertise is in the application of image-based analysis and employment/development of pore-scale flow models to predict fluid transport properties of heterogeneous geomedia and elucidate coupled flow processes, as well as the development of methods to upscale these results to intermediate and field scales. I am generally interested in research involving fluid flow in geomedia, including, but not limited to, hydrocarbon recovery, CO2 sequestration, contaminant transport, and water resources management.

Zhiqiang Fan
I joined BEG as a postdoctoral fellow in 2013 after getting my Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from University of Maine. With a solid background of mechanics, I enjoy multidisciplinary research and have a wide range of research experiences. For my master theses, I analyzed the large deformation and instability of hyperleastic materials. For my Ph. D, I developed computational/analytical models to simulate natural hydraulic fracture initiation and propagation associated with transformation of solid kerogen to liquid oil, and conversion of oil to gas in shale formations. I also investigated multiple hydraulic fractures in poroelastic rocks. My current research is focused on fluid injection induced earthquakes. We try to investigate the causative relationship between fluid injection and induced seismic fault slip by integrating geological and geophysical data into a poroelastic finite element model. My research interests include borehole stability, hydraulic fracture, interaction between fluid flow, rock deformation and crack growth, and abnormal pressure modeling in sedimentary basins.

Xiaofeng Chen
Starting in April 2015, I joined the FRAC group at BEG after earning my PhD in Geology at the University of Oklahoma. My research focuses on the understanding the mechanical properties of rocks under seismic and reservoir related conditions using laboratory experiments along with nano-scale analysis. My PhD work was to investigate the rock frictional properties under seismic velocities. Combined with high-resolution characterization, I discovered several effective dynamic faulting mechanisms such as dynamic smoothing, powder rolling, and frictional melting which broadened the understanding of earthquake physics. My current research project is to experimentally study the geomechanics of CO2 reservoir rocks. We plan to explore the effect of reservoir environmental factors associated with CO2 injection such as fluid with different chemical composition, temperature and pressure on reservoir rock mechanical especially the seal properties by fracture mechanics tests, rock mechanics tests and nano-scale characterization.

Estibalitz Ukar, 2011 - 2013, PhD UT Austin
Research Associate, BEG

Tobias Weisenberger, 2010 - 2012, PhD Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany
Iceland GeoSurvey, Reykjavik, Iceland

Andras Fall, 2008 - 2011, PhD Virginia Tech
Research Associate, BEG

Stephen Becker, 2007 - 2008, PhD Virginia Tech
Exxon Upstream Research


Graduate Students

Owen A Callahan, Ph.D., expected 2017 (Supervisor)
My research is focussed on the interplay between fault and fracture permeability, hydrothermal fluid flow, alteration, mechanical properties, and deformation. I am currently working on projects in Dixie Valley, NV, and in the North Cascades, WA. I worked as a geologist in the geothermal industry for 5 years before returning to graduate school.

Jonathan Major, Ph.D., expected 2016 (Supervisor)
I consider myself primarily an applied structural geologist and tectonicist, but I have a wide range of interests and research experiences. My current research is focused on understanding the interactions between structures, fracturing, and geochemistry, primarily focusing on fracture systems found in mudrocks. My dissertation project is assessing fault and top seal behavior in CO2-rich systems by looking at an natural analog near Green River, Utah. I am combining field work, experimental geomechanics, petrography, petrology, and numerical modeling to do this. The primary application of my work is long-term carbon sequestration, but it also has relevance to CO2-injection for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and mudrock fracture systems in general. My primary field research areas are the Colorado Plateau, Utah, and eastern Indonesia.

Casey M Obrien (Supervisor)

Natchanan Doungkaew (Supervisor)

Erick M Wright (Supervisor)

Canalp Ozkul, M.S., 2014 (Supervisor)
UT Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences
Thesis: Fracture abundance and strain in folded Cardium Formation, Alberta Fold-and-Thrust Belt, Canada. Co-supervised by Dr. Estibalitz Ukar Now at Turkiye Petrolleri A.O.

Laura Pommer, M.S., 2013 (Supervisor)
UT Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences
Thesis: Natural fracture cementation in the Marcellus Formation. Co-supervised by Dr. Julia Gale

Guangjian Cecilia Xu, M.S., 2012 (Supervisor)
UT Austin, JAckson School of Geosciences
Thesis: Fluid inclusion studies of microfractures in Eriboll Formation, NW Scotland: Insights into timing of fracture opening Now PhD student at Texas A&M

Alexander Urquhart, M.S., 2011 (Supervisor)
UT Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences
Thesis: Structural controls on CO2 leakage and diagenesis in a natural long-term carbon sequestration analogue: The Little Grand Wash fault, Utah.

Autumn Kaylor Eakin, M.S., 2011 (Supervisor)
UT Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences
Thesis: A fluid inclusion and cathodoluminescence approach to reconstruct fracture growth in the Triassic-Jurassic La Boca Formation, Northeastern Mexico Now at Chevron Energy Technology Company

Peter Hargrove, M.S., 2010 (Co-supervisor)
UT Austin, Jackson School of Geosciences
Thesis: Fault-related fracture systems in the Cambrian Eriboll Formation, Northwest Scotland : a field and petrographic study of a tight gas sandstone analog. Now at BP.


YearSemesterCourse
2015Spring GEO 394 Rsch Reservoir Struct Geochem
2014Fall GEO 394 Rsch Reservoir Struct Geochem
2014Spring GEO 394 Rsch Reservoir Struct Geochem
2013Fall GEO 394 Rsch Reservoir Struct Geochem
2013Spring GEO 394 Rsch Reservoir Struct Geochem

Fault and fracture processes, structural diagenesis (Graduate)
Graduate student projects combine the fields of fault and fracture mechanics and low-temperature geochemistry addressing deformation mechanisms of the upper crust, structural control of mass and heat transfer in sedimentary basins, the effects of chemical mass transfer on the mechanical and hydraulic behavior of fractures and faults, and the chemical interaction between fluids and minerals. Projects usually require the integration of field and laboratory analytical or numerical work and preference goes to applicants that are equally comfortable in the field and in the lab. Research topics include field- and core-based structural geology, geomechanics, geofluids, geochemistry, and natural resources including CO2 sequestration. A current research emphasis lies in Structural Diagenesis which combines the traditionally separate fields of brittle structural geology and diagenesis/geochemistry. Preference goes to PhD applicants with a prior MS degree and MS applicants with undergraduate research experience, preferentially through completion of a senior's thesis. Applications should be submitted to the MS or PhD program in Geological Sciences (GEO). Please contact Peter Eichhubl (peter.eichhubl@beg.utexas.edu for further details.

 
Field lecture to industry participants at Valley of Fire, Nevada, October 2007.

Field work in Scotland, Utah, Alberta, and California.

Field lecture to industry participants at Valley of Fire, Nevada, October 2007.Alex Urquhart mapping veins formed by natural CO2 leakage in central Utah, October 2009.We invented the selfie stick.Camp in NW Scotland, June 2011.Esti Ukar and Jon Major collecting structural data at Ram Falls, Alberta, Canada, August 2012With John Hooker on the Moine Thrust in NW Scotland, June 2011.Discussing fractures in the Canadian Rockies, September 2013. FRAC students and staff with industry participants at Ram River Falls, Alberta, Canada, September 2013.Owen Callahan studying extinct fumaroles, Dixie Valley, Nevada, July 2013.Owen Callahan, Yaser Alzayer, and John Hooker in the Scottish Highlands, June 2013.Camp in the Scottish Highlands, June 2013.FRAC students September 2013.Autumn Eakin mapping fracture patterns in Alberta, Canada, July 2010.Mint Doungkaew and Owen Callahan measuring fracture apertures in the Cambrian sandstones in the White Mountains of eastern California, June 2015.Field work near Westgard Pass, eastern California, June 2015.Camp on Westgard Pass, eastern California, with Mint Doungkaew and Owen Callahan, June 2015.

 

Discussing paleo-fluid flow and diagenetic alteration at Valley of Fire, Nevada. The alteration contact reflects paleo-fluid flow associated with Cretaceous thrust tectonics.Photo: A. Fall.

Field trip to Valley of Fire (NV), San Rafael Swell (UT), and Moab (UT) in October 2014, sponsored by a grant by the GDL Foundation. Team: Peter Eichhubl (instructor), Jon Major (co-leader), Sara Elliott (co-leader), Andras Fall, Chris Landry, Zhiqiang Fan, Nike Tokan-Laval, Casey O'Brien, Erick Wright, Mint Doungkaew, Peter Laciano.

Discussing paleo-fluid flow and diagenetic alteration at Valley of Fire, Nevada. The alteration contact reflects paleo-fluid flow associated with Cretaceous thrust tectonics.Photo: A. Fall.Hematite alteration influenced by deformation bands, Valley of Fire. Deformation bands act as barriers to fluid flow, retarding iron oxide dissolution/reprecipitation reactions in the Jurassic Aztec Sandstone.Arm-waving field instructor. Photo: A. Fall.Jon Major explaining fault-controlled spring flow at Pah Tempe Hot Springs, Utah. The springs are located along the Hurricane fault that marks the western extent of the Colorado Plateau.Camp in Green River, Utah.Lens cap with deformation bands. Arches National Park, Utah, trail to Delicate Arch. Deformation bands are characteristic structures in porous sand and sandstone.Group shot at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah.Goblin Valley State Park, Utah.Moab normal fault at Courthouse Rock. The fault juxtaposes older Jurassic Entrada Sandstone (left) against younger Jurassic Morrison Formation and Cretaceous sandstone (right). The Moab fault is one of the best studied normal fault systems.View from Dead Horse Point to the east across Permian to Jurassic units, with the Cane Creek anticline and the La Sal Mountains in the background.