Earth's inner secrets revealed through groundbreaking research

Posted by fi17 at Mar 09, 2012 10:02 AM |
University of Leicester geophysicist to showcase work in House of Commons

A University of Leicester academic is set to showcase his - literally - groundbreaking research in the House of Commons.

Dr Max Moorkamp, of the Department of Geology, has been working with colleagues at the GEOMAR Institute in Germany to develop new techniques to ‘see’ below the Earth’s surface 

His research makes it possible to peer deep into the Earth, through miles of solid rock, to see the kind of underground resources our civilization needs – oil, minerals, water.

His work has led to the development of ever-more-precise pictures of the underground realm.  He has now been invited to demonstrate these literally ground-breaking techniques at the SET for Britain exhibition at the House of Commons on March 12th, where he has a chance to win the prestigious Westminster Medal.

‘It is all a question of putting together the different ways that we can probe the ground – the detection of seismic waves, measurements of electromagnetic fields and of gravity’ said Dr. Moorkamp. “Individually these kinds of measurements give blurry pictures, but by combining them in the right way we can sharpen up the images of rock structures that lie far underground.

Combining these kinds of data isn’t easy - it needs all the power of modern computers to carry out many parallel calculations,  new algorithms, and better graphical systems.  The system needs to be flexible, too, to be able to cope with the variety of rock types and conditions that lie far below our feet.

But it can achieve powerful results.  Dr. Moorkamp and his team were able to obtain detailed images of a salt dome – a huge mass of rock salt that has risen up towards the surface, tearing apart rock strata on its way.  Among the complex underground wreckage around such a phenomenon, pools of oil and gas may gather. 

The new sharpness of vision that Dr. Moorkamp has pioneered will enable such resources to be found and extracted more efficiently than before – and are key to illuminating the long-hidden treasures of the underground world in general.

Dr Moorkamp’s research has been entered into the SET for Britain competition, which will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony.

Judged by leading academics, the gold medallist receives £3,000, while silver and bronze receive £2,000 and £1,000 respectively.

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee run the event in collaboration with The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry, the Physiological Society, the Wellcome Trust and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, Airbus/EADS, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, AgChem Access, Oxford Instruments, IBMS and GE Hitachi.  

 

ENDS

Notes for editors:

For further information contact:

Dr. Max Moorkamp

Department of Geology

University of Leicester

e-mail mm489@le.ac.uk

tel:  0116 2523632

For further information about the event, images, or interview opportunities, please contact Joe Winters:

Tel: 020 7470 4815

E-mail: joseph.winters@iop.org 

 

About SET for Britain:

SET for Britain is a poster competition in the House of Commons - involving approximately 180 early stage or early career researchers - judged by professional and academic experts.  All presenters are entered into either the engineering, the biological and biomedical sciences, the physical sciences (chemistry), or the physical sciences (physics) session, depending on their specialism.  

Each session will result in the award of Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates. Bronze winners will receive a £1,000 prize; Silver, £2,000; and Gold, £3,000. There will also be an overall winner from the four sessions who will receive the Westminster Wharton Medal.

SET for Britain was established by Dr Eric Wharton in 1997.  Following his untimely death in 2007, the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, with support from The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry, the Physiological Society, the Wellcome Trust and the Society of Chemical Industry are working together to further his legacy.  

The event is made possible by industry sponsors BP, Airbus/EADS, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, AgChem Access, Oxford Instruments, IBMS and GE Hitachi.

Early stage or early career researchers include university research students, postgraduates, research assistants, postdocs, research fellows, newly-appointed lecturers, part-time and mature students, returners, those people embarking on a second career, and their equivalent in national, public sector and industrial laboratories, and appropriate final year undergraduate and MSc students, all of whom are engaged in scientific, engineering, technological or medical research.

 

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