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): industry sponsored reserarch on naturally fractured reservoirs (with Steve Laubach, Julia Gale, BEG, Jon Olson, PGE) ( view )Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security (CFSES): DOE-sponsored research on subsurface CO2 sequestration (with Gary Pope, Sanjay Shrinivasan, Steve Bryant, Matt Balhoff, PGE; Tom Dewers, Sean McKenna, Sandia National Labs) ( view )

RPSEA Multiazimuth Seismic Diffraction Imaging for Fracture Characterization in Low-Permeability Gas Formations (with Sergey Fomel, BEG, DGS)

Shell UT Unconventional Research (SUTUR) - Interaction of natural and hydraulic fractures in unconventional reservoirs (with Jon Olson, PGE)

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)


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

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

Zhiqiang Fan

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

Tobias Weisenberger, 2010 - 2012, PhD Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany
Assistant Professor, University of Oulu, Finland

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.

Yaser A Alzayer, M.S., expected 2014 (Supervisor)
I am studying the opening mechanism of opening-mode fractures in tight sandstone reservoirs. My research examines synkinematic cements within macro-fractures and micro-fractures in cores and outcrops from multiple formations. I use the synkinematic cement textures and cross-cutting relationships as a proxy for fracture opening history and behavior. In that effort, I employ both standard petrography and scanning electron microscope with cathodoluminescence detector to discern the aforementioned relationships and characterize the fractures under high resolution. The ultimate goal of my research is to contribute to predicting and characterizing fractures that are essential for fluid flow in tight hydrocarbon reservoirs.

Canalp Ozkul, M.S., expected 2014 (Supervisor)
The main focus of my research is the study of fracture characteristics and their relationship with structural position in tight gas sandstone reservoirs. I study distribution and characteristics of opening mode fractures in thrust belt systems. I also compare the strain distribution, attributes of fractures in outcrop, and kinematic models in order to estimate the timing of the fracture formation relative to the evolution of the thrust belt system. I use kinematic models in 2D and 3D, outcrop study, and petrography to do these estimations. Ultimately I seek to predict reservoir properties based on structural position of the reservoirs.

Adenike Tokan-Lawal, M.S., expected 2014 (Supervisor)
Fluid flow in fractured (partially) cemented porous media using x-ray microtomography images. X-ray microtomography imaging is used to provide information on fracture geometry, this serves as input for simulation. 3DMA Rock software is used for Image analysis and characterization of the connectivity and geometric tortuosity of the fractured pore space. A combination of the level-set-method-based progressive-quasistatic algorithm (LSMPQS software), and lattice Boltzmann simulation (Palabos software) are used to characterize the capillary dominated displacement properties and the relative permeability of the natural fractures. My research is co-supervised by Drs Peter Eichhubl and Masa Prodanovic (PGE - http://users.ices.utexas.edu/~masha/ )

Laura Pommer, M.S., 2013 (Co-supervisor)
Natural fracture cementation in the Marcellus Formation

Guangjian Cecilia Xu, M.S., 2012 (Supervisor)
Fluid inclusion studies of microfractures in Eriboll Formation, NW Scotland: Insights into timing of fracture opening

Alexander Urquhart, M.S., 2011 (Supervisor)
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)
A fluid inclusion and cathodoluminescence approach to reconstruct fracture growth in the Triassic-Jurassic La Boca Formation, Northeastern Mexico

Peter Hargrove, M.S., 2010 (Co-supervisor)
Fault-related fracture systems in the Cambrian Eriboll Formation, Northwest Scotland : a field and petrographic study of a tight gas sandstone analog


GEO 380C Advanced Structural Geology (Graduate)

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 for Fall 2014 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 at Valley of Fire, Nevada.

Field work in Scotland, Utah, and Alberta.

Field lecture at Valley of Fire, Nevada.Alex Urquhart mapping veins formed by natural CO2 leakage in central Utah.Pole photography.Camp in NW Scotland, June 2011.Esti Ukar and Jon Major collecting structural data at Ram Falls, Alberta, Canada,With John Hooker on the Moine Thrust in NW Scotland.Discussing fractures in the Canadian Rockies. FRAC students and staff with industry participants at Ram River Falls, Alberta, Canada, September 2013.Owen Callahan studying extinct fumaroles, Dixie Valley, Nevada.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.