Phase I IUCRC at Virginia Tech: Center for Advanced Subsurface Earth Resource Models (CASERM)


Mining is intrinsic to modern society's transition to a sustainable existence. Meeting the global demand for earth resources represents a grand challenge. The Industry-University Cooperative Research Center for Advanced Subsurface Earth Resource Models is a collaborative effort between Virginia Tech, Colorado School of Mines, and industry partners. The Center's activities will transform the way geoscience data are used in the exploration and mining industry sector, beginning with the mineral exploration stage and continuing through mine closure and environmental remediation. Research activities of the Center will fundamentally change the way global exploration and mining of natural resources is done, replacing industry experience- and empiricism-based decisions with innovative science and technology-based solutions that inform decision making, increase the chances of exploration success, and reduce financial risk. The goals of the Center will promote socio-economic prosperity and help to reduce the environmental impact of mining. Workforce development is an essential component of the Center activities and will include graduate and undergraduate students, and industry employee participation in research activities and training opportunities. The Center will strengthen and promote cross-disciplinary discoveries in geophysics, geochemistry, mineralogy, computational science and statistics. Knowledge transfer to the geothermal industry sector will form one of the Center?s key activities. The Center for Advanced Subsurface Earth Resource Models is focused on advancing the exploration/mining industry sector through the establishment of a cooperative partnership that conducts pre-competitive research and workforce development of benefit to industry, academia, and society. The purpose and long-term vision of this Center is directed toward research challenges in the development of 3-D subsurface geologic models for mineral deposits, integrating diverse geoscience data, to inform decision making and minimize geological risk. Four research thrusts are envisioned: (1) development of geophysical and geochemical instrumentation, analysis and interpretation methods for enhanced characterization of rock properties; (2) integration, scaling, and inversion of diverse geological, petrophysical, and geophysical data of dissimilar spatial resolution and distribution to identify and characterize subsurface earth resources; (3) development of information methodologies for reducing risk associated with decision making; and (4) computational imaging and development of graphical and exploratory data analysis solutions and visualization tools. Achieving this broad vision requires collaborations from a broad range of disciplines. Virginia Tech's broad expertise in computational methods, high performance computing, mining engineering, fluids, seismic acquisition, imaging and inversion, tomographic imaging, and petrophysics combined with industry experience will allow for further mining-related advancements. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.


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