Geology From Above


My name is Dr. Ben Surpless, I’m in the
geosciences department at Trinity University Saturn Atia is part of the
Keck Geology Consortium which is an NSF funded project involving 18 of what I would
consider the the best liberal arts colleges around the country. The project
itself was one I’ve been involved in fault systems and infolding for a long
time thinking about how I might apply some of the new ideas that are out there
to a new system. So we came out here to Southern Utah today to look at a large
fault zone and really we’re not focusing on the large walls but we’re looking at
kind of what happens in between segments of that large fault and looking at how
little fractures in the rocks propagate in what direction they’re facing and how
much they may or may not have moved all to try to understand bigger faults in
the bigger picture of this thing probably been about four or five years
ago I realized that so much of what I wanted to see I couldn’t get to it and
people told me oh you should learn how to rappel but in reality you know one
rope down the side of a cliff I mean you look at the cliffs behind me you can see
why that is not an effective use of my time energy and also I don’t really want
to die and so a much safer way to do it is to actually use drone technology or
unmanned aerial vehicle technology the deformation that occurs in transfer
zones as well as just defamation bands can impact fluid flow such as water
natural gas and oil can be important for big companies or communities working
with a professor’s for an extended period of time like out in the field is
pretty unique experience because you get to experience what that person is like
outside of class that’s just unique you know not all students get to spend two
weeks in the field just camping with their professors I mean like one more
week here we’re going back to San Antonio at
Trinity to do a lot of modeling work look at different aspects of the Syrah
fault system the cool thing about this project is it is kind of traditional
geology where we go out and hit things with hammers look at compasses get real
close to the rock but it’s also integrating brand-new technology to the
field of geology which is that drone work in order to do geology modeling
through the computer so it’s a really new technique for ki ology to get to do
this kind of new technology research on somewhere that’s geologically
significant is just a super-lucky experience what I’m hoping that happens
is that we take what we’ve learned here we can apply it to a number of different
fields including paleo seismology and thinking a little bit about earthquake
hazards it’s also important because of the fracturing associated with the
faulting impacts permeability and so that might impact groundwater flow it
impacts gas and oil recovery and importantly it also strongly impacts
geothermal energy and it turns out that these transfers owns are well known for
geothermal energy systems not just not just in Utah but around the world