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Course Overview

Course overview

UCD MSc in Subsurface Characterisation and Geomodelling

These details are indicative and may change.

GEOL40660 Stratigraphic prediction (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Peter Haughton

A module focussing on how to build stratigraphic correlations and predict lithology using core and well data. It will introduce core-to-log ties and correlation strategies including surface based correlations in 3D using sequence stratigraphic principles. The module will also cover the application of bio-, chemo- and cyclostratigraphy in setting up correlation frameworks. Examples from deeper subsurface reservoir analysis, behind-outcrop coring, and shallow geotechnical and groundwater-related projects will form the basis of a series of related practical sessions.

Lecture 1: Introduction to stratigraphic principles
Lecture 2: Facies concept – 1D to 4D
Lecture 3: Generating stratigraphy
Lecture 4: Modern coastal settings – what lies beneath?
Lecture 5: Biostratigraphy 1
Lecture 6: Biostratigraphy 2
Lecture 7: Introduction to sequence stratigraphy
Lecture 8: Parasequences and sequence sub-division
Lecture 9: Surface-based correlation in practice
Lecture 10: Additional stratigraphic tools

Practical 1: Predicting stratigraphic relationships away from a vertical section.
Practical 2: Cocco delta exercise. Reconstructing Holocene history and shallow subsurface stratigraphy from Google Earth imagery.
Practical 3: Biostratigraphic exercises.
Practical 4: Surface based correlation exercises.
Practical 5: Ferron Sandstone correlation using behind-outcrop boreholes

GEOL40530 Applied Structural Geology (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Conrad Childs

This module will provide the background required to constrain the structural geological aspects of subsurface geomodels. Starting from an introduction to the most important structures, the module will consider how these structures form, the conditions under which they form and the controls on their deformation style and geometrical properties. The module will consider how the subsurface can be structurally characterised from different data sources and over a range of scales. Methods for constraining subsurface 3D structure and constructing and testing geometrically realistic and geologically plausible structural models of the subsurface will be reviewed.

Lecture 1. Stress and rock failure
Lecture 2. Fractures and their interpretation
Lecture 3. Fault geometry and displacement distribution; normal faults
Lecture 4. Fault geometry and displacement distribution; thrusts and strike-slip faults
Lecture 5. Fault rocks and fault zones
Lecture 6. Shear zones and ductile deformation
Lecture 7. Fold geometry and folding mechanisms
Lecture 8. The scaling of geological structures
Lecture 9. Controls of pre-existing structure and fault reactivation
Lecture 10. Structural associations and timing of structures

Practical 1. Orientation analysis using stereonets
Practical 2. Structural mapping from boreholes
Practical 3. Structural evolution from seismic data/displacement mapping
Practical 4. Fault Seal Analysis
Practical 5. Structural validation and restoration

GEOL40700 Applied Quaternary Geology (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Sam Kelley

This module explores the geologic record of the past 2.6 million years, and in particular, the effect that Quaternary glacial activity has had on the landscape. In many cases, unconsolidated deposits from the Quaternary are discontinuous and heterogeneous, posing challenges to subsurface description. Recognizing the deposits architecture, common landforms, and erosion and depositional processes related to the Quaternary geologic record are key in accurately characterizing Quaternary deposits. This information underpins many industries including mineral exploration, aggregate extraction, groundwater monitoring, and environmental remediation.

This module uses lecture, practicals, and field trips. Field trips will be used to examine topics covered in lecture in more detail, and incorporate the collection of field observations with computer based interpretation. Topics covered include:
Ice Sheets and Glaciers
Glacial sedimentation/landforms
Mineral exploration in unconsolidated sediments (drift prospecting, stream sediment sampling, etc.)
Aggregate resources
Geotechnical properties of Quaternary sediments
Weathering and soils
Coastal geomorphology
Climate Change

GEOL40560 Geofluids and geomechanics (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Tom Manzocchi

This 2.5 credit module concerns the behaviour of fluids and stresses in the subsurface as a function of natural geological processes and in response to human-induced perturbations. Topics include single and two-phase flow processes at a range of spatial and temporal scales, the development and release of overpressures and stresses, and induced seismicity and subsidence. Applications to ground-water, geothermal, oil and gas and carbon sequestration will be addressed in lectures and practical classes.

Lecture 1. Rheology and constitutive properties of geomaterials
Lecture 2. Mechanics of hydrocarbon migration and trapping
Lecture 3. Pressure, overpressure and hydrodynamic flow in subsiding sedimentary basins
Lecture 4. Fracture and flow in subsiding and uplifted basins
Lecture 5. Properties of uplifted basins and crystalline rock
Lecture 6. PVT properties of geofluids
Lecture 7. Capillary-dominated two-phase flow: Drainage and imbibition
Lecture 8. Mechanics of CO2 sequestration
Lecture 9. Mechanics of hydrocarbon production
Lecture 10. EOR and CO2EOR

All practicals are based on pen-and-paper (plus, where appropriate, Microsoft excel) exercises of idealised sub-surface problems.
Practical 1: Assessment of spill and leakage of migrating gas and oil.
Practical 2: Assessment of a tilted fluid contact from RFT data.
Practical 3: Volumetric assessment of hydrocarbons in place.
Practical 4: Assessment of an injectivity strategy for CO2 sequestration.
Practical 5: Assessment of geomechanical risk of a sequestration site

GEOL40640 Introduction to geomodelling (5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Tom Manzocchi

This module reviews the practical use and construction of maps and models in geosciences. Methods discussed include computer mapping, computer aided design (CAD) in geosciences and geoengineering, computer geomodelling (e.g., extrusion-based methods, structural framework modelling, implicit modelling, fracture network modelling), property modelling and estimation (kriging, radial bias functions, simulation) and gridding and solver discretisation (e.g. finite difference and finite element methods). Strategies for designing fit-for-purpose modelling studies are discussed, including the important challenge of communicating complex and uncertain geoscience information to non-specialist decision-makers or stakeholders. Practical classes focus on application of geomodelling methods in idealised scenarios using a variety of paper and software-based approaches. The module includes a two-day ArcGIS Pro workshop to introduce a tool that will be applied in other modules, and a self-learning component leading to an individual 20-minute presentation.

Part 1. Fundamentals of subsurface modelling (Tom Manzocchi)
Lecture 1: What is geological modelling?
Lecture 2. Data characterisation for modelling
Lecture 3. Introduction to surface modelling
Lecture 4. Introduction to geostatistical modelling
Practical 1: Data characterisation. Establish the distribution properties and correlation structure of a 1D dataset.
Practical 2: Property Modelling. Based on the results from Practical 1, estimation and simulation of properties at unknow locations.

Part 2. Introduction to GIS. (Sam Kelley, Eoghan Holohan)
Four three-hour sessions on ArcGIS Pro, covering elementary topics introducing the tool, to example applications.

Part 3: 3D geological modelling. (Koen Torremans)
Lectures 5 – 7 Approaches to 3D surface geomodelling
Lecture 8 Static Property Geomodelling: Mineral Resource Estimation
Practicals 3 . 4: 3D modelling of a mineral deposit using Leapfrog.

Part 4 Dynamic modelling Assoc. (Tom Manzocchi)
Lecture 9. Subsurface flow and Darcy’s law
Lecture 10. Introduction to flow modelling
Lecture 11. Principals of Finite Difference flow modelling
Lecture 12 Finite Difference flow modelling 2
Practical 5 Construction and use of Flow Nets
Practical 5 Finite Difference flow simulation in Excel.

Part 5. Self-guided learning component
Literature research on the modelling for a designed subsurface geoscience project and preparation of a 20-minute presentation to the class.

GEOL40590 Geostatistics and geomodelling (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Tom Manzocchi

Using a geomodel to quantify the value of a resource or to forecast its future behaviour often requires assigning physical properties to the model. This 2.5 credit module reviews the methods used to extract statistics from subsurface data and addresses how they are used in geomodelling. Lectures are focused on providing a grounding in the principals of the methods while practical classes are devoted to construction and analysis of geomodels using industry-standard software.
The 10 lectures follow the workflow of geostatistical characterisation and modelling guided towards construction of a sub-surface flow simulation model. The five practical classes follow the work-flow used to characterise and model flow units for flow simulation modelling, based on published datasets and modelled mainly in the Petrel software.

Lecture 1: Approaches to reservoir characterisation and modelling
Lecture 2: Data distributions and averaging
Lecture 3: Variograms
Lecture 4: Facies modelling
Lecture 5: Property modelling
Lecture 6: Machine leaning in characterisation and geomodelling
Lecture 7. The Geocellular reservoir model
Lecture 8: Flow simulation modelling
Lecture 9: Faults and fault surface properties
Lecture 10 Representative properties and upscaling

Practical 1: Characterisation and flow unit classification from well data (Excel)
Practical 2: Facies modelling (Petrel)
Practical 3: Property modelling in (Petrel)
Practical 4: Fault surface modelling in (Petrel)
Practical 5: Flow simulation modelling (Eclipse/Petrel)

GEOL40690 Fractured rock modelling (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Tom Manzocchi

This 2.5 credit module addresses the challenge of working with fractured reservoirs and aquifers. Quantitative methods used to characterise fault and fracture systems from borehole and map data, and the construction of fractured rock geomodels will be discussed. Choice of modelling technique ranges from their explicit representation in discrete fracture network models, to their inclusion as volume-averaged properties in continuum or dual-property models and depends on both fracture characteristics and the problem being addressed.

Lectures 1-6:
Lecture 1. Factures characterisation from one-dimensional samples:
Lecture 2. Factures networks in two and three dimensions:
Lecture 3. Fracture networks and flow
Lecture 4: Approach to modelling fractured reservoirs and aquifers.
Lecture 5: Case studies 1
Lecture 6. Case studies 2

Practicals 1-3:
Practical 1: 3D fracture system characterisation from 1D data collection.
Practical 2: Construction of a fracture network model (Petrel).
Practical 3: Fracture-flow modelling.

Fieldwork and analysis of field data:
Students will spend a day collecting fracture data from two sites in South Dublin. The datasets will be shared among all students, and each student will be a assigned a specific line of enquiry within the data. The resultant self-guided data analysis will be presented on a poster, which will be presented to the class.

GEOL40550 Drilling and well logging (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Kara English

This module addresses drilling techniques, graphical logging and open hole log interpretation. The module will also focus on interpretation of commonly used drilldata and how they are used to constrain sediment, fluid and rock properties in the subsurface.
Lecture 1 : Drilling Processes
Lecture 2 : Drilling data and applications
Lecture 3 : Core and core evaluation
Lecture 4 : Radioactive logs
Lecture 5 : Porosity logs
Lecture 6 : Resistivity logs
Lecture 7 : Image logs
Lecture 8: Formation Testing
Lecture 9: Drilling issues and advances in drilling
Lecture 10. Software Integration

Practical 1. Investigation of drilling data (datums, cuttings, temperature data)
Practical 2. Core data and gamma ray
Practical 3. Porosity, resistivity and water saturation
Practical 4. Image Logs
Practical 5. Software Integration

GEOL40730 Geophysical Methods 1 (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Ivan Lokmer

This module will introduce students to the physical principles behind, and the practical application of the seismic techniques commonly used to image the subsurface. The students will be introduced to the seismic refraction, reflection, and surface wave methods. Data acquisition and processing will be introduced, buta special attention will be given to the interpretation of seismic data with a focus on shallow geophysical applications. In addition, the students will be introducedto the basics of spectral analysis, required for a deeper understanding of geophysical data. They will gain an understanding of how to assess the information content and resolution of geophysical images/models as well as of the importance of underlying physical principles in Earth model building.

GEOL40720 Geophysical Methods 2 (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Aline Melo

This module will introduce students to the physical principles behind, and the practical application of, the geophysical techniques commonly used to image the subsurface (gravity, magnetic, electrical, electromagnetic methods). Emphasis will be placed on the processing, analysis and interpretation of geophysical data with a focus on shallow geophysical applications. Students will gain an understanding of how to assess the information content and resolution of geophysical images/models as well as of the importance of underlying physical principles in Earth model building.

GEOL40580 Remote Sensing (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Eoghan Holohan

This 2.5-credit module provides an overview of how remotely sensed data are used to constrain surface and sub-surface attributes of the Earth. The module will summarise the nature, advantages, and limitations of the various active and passive Earth Observation platforms, such as satellites, aircraft and drones. It will in tandem provide a synopsis of the main types and geo-scientific applications of remote sensing data (e.g. optical, multi-spectral, thermal, hyperspectral, gravity, electro-magnetics, synthetic aperture radar, Global Navigation Satellite Systems, LiDAR). An overview of how to access and process remotely-sensed data will also be provided. The module will also explore how such data can be used to make three-dimensional images of the Earth’s surface and to characterize changes and motions of the ground surface in time. The use of remote-sensing data to constrain sub-surface properties, geometries and deformation sources will also be explored. The module will include several practical opportunities to analyse and synthesise various remotely sensed data sets by using a Geographical Information System (GIS) and open source processing tools.

Lecture 1. Nature, propagation and scattering of electromagnetic waves
Lecture 2. Optical and Multispectral imaging
Lecture 3. InfraRed and Hyperspectral imaging
Lecture 4. Photogrammetry
Lecture 5. LiDAR
Lecture 6. Gravity and magnetic remote sensing
Lecture 7. Radar and SAR
Lecture 8. InSAR and GPS
Lecture 9. Summary of remote sensing as applied to surface and sub-surface characterisation.
Lecture 10. Overview of Earth Observation platforms and data - past, present & future

Practical 1. Multispectral satellite image processing and analysis
Practical 2. Generation of Digital Surface Models from photogrammetry of drone-captured optical data
Practical 3. Geological mapping with Multi-/Hyperspectral imagery
Practical 4. SAR image analysis
Practical 5. Measurement and analysis of fault/volcano deformation with InSAR

GEOL40570 Geocomputation (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Ivan Lokmer

Modern industry requirements inevitably include numerical, digital and data visualisation skills. This module will introduce students to the methods and techniques for digital data manipulation, visualisation and information extraction using simple scripting routines. The practical skills and applications of these methods will be achieved through the use of Python programming language, assisted with Jupyter notebooks. The student will become familiar with the basics of these versatile packages and upon finishing the module, they will have a solid basis for importing, manipulation, the analysis, and visualisation of different types of Earth-related datasets. This would also facilitate some of the final projects, requiring basic scripting skills.

Computer-based lectures and practicals with a high level of hands-on component focus on the following topics:
- Introduction to Python and automatic data import
- Importing of different data formats
- Loops and statements (making the tasks more efficient)
- Automatic data import from multiple data files
- Making sense of data (e.g. summarising, converting, synthesizing)
- Making a regular grid from irregularly sampled dataset (interpolation)
- Geodata visualisation (different plot types)
- Variable wavelengths of topography, seismic signals, and geophysical anomalies
- Data regression

GEOL40650 Applied Geoscience (5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Lawrence Amy

The module provides a background to the main industry sectors that apply geosciences in order to understand the subsurface for a wide range of purposes including mineral extraction, energy generation and construction. An overview is provided of each sector including aspects of the commercial and social-environmental drivers. The role of geology and geophysics, key geoscience principles and technologies applied in each sector are summarised. Many of the concepts introduced in this module will be developed in further detail in subsequent modules within the MSc.

Lecture 1. Global challenges and geoscience in the 21st Century
Lecture 2 Energy: past, present and future
Lecture 3 Raw Materials: past, present and future
Lecture 4 Petroleum geoscience I
Lecture 5 Petroleum geoscience II
Lecture 6 Petroleum geoscience III
Lecture 7 Carbon capture and storage I
Lecture 8 Carbon storage and capture II
Lecture 9 Overview of the minerals and raw materials sector
Lecture 10 The minerals industry: key geoscience principles I
Lecture 11 The minerals industry: key geoscience principles II
Lecture 12 The minerals industry: key geoscience principles III
Lecture 13 The Groundwater Sector: overview of the sector
Lecture 14 The Groundwater Sector: key geoscience principles
Lecture 15 The Renewable Sector: overview of the sector
Lecture 16 The Renewable Sector: key geoscience principles
Lecture 17 The Geotechnical Sector: overview of the sector
Lecture 18 The Geotechnical Sector: uncertainty, risk and subsurface characterisation
Lecture 19 Geothermal Energy Sector: overview of the sector
Lecture 20 Geothermal Energy Sector: key geoscience principles

Practical 1 Global Challenges
Practical 2 Petroleum / CCS
Practical 3 Petroleum / CCS
Practical 4 Petroleum / CCS
Practical 5 Minerals
Practical 6 Minerals
Practical 7 Groundwater
Practical 8 Renewables
Practical 9 Geotechnical
Practical 10 Geothermal

GEOL40520 Rock Engineering (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Claire Harnett

This module focuses on the characterisation and deformation of hard rocks and their applications in the engineering geology and geotechnics sector. Lectures will initially address the quantitative theory of rock mechanics (e.g. stress, strain, elasticity, fracture mechanics) and its application to complex and heterogeneous geological material. The module will then focus on real-world engineering applications of rock mechanics, considering tunnelling, mining and rock slope stability. This module will also provide an introduction into the different computational modelling methods used to consider rock engineering problems. The practical classeswill focus on the quantitative skills required to consider large-scale rock properties and engineering scenarios.
Lecture 1. Site investigation:
Lecture 2. Rock mechanics & engineering characterisation of hard rock
Lecture 3. Rock deformation:
Lecture 4. Rock mass classification schemes:
Lecture 5. Tunnelling and underground excavation
Lecture 6. Mining engineering
Lecture 7. Rock slope stability 1
Lecture 8. Rock slope stability 2
Lecture 9. Geotechnical modelling
Lecture 10. Geotechnical modelling

Practical 1. Site investigation exercise
Practical 2. Numerical modelling of lab testing, Mohr circles and failure criteria
Practical 3..Rock mass classification with application to tunnelling/mining
Practical 4. Limit equilibrium analysis of slope stability
Practical 5. Kinematic analysis of wedge/topple/sliding failure.

GEOL40670 3D mapping and modelling I (5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Lawrence Amy

This module will provide students with an opportunity to develop their modelling skills through building structural-stratigraphic models. The key stages of model building will be covered including loading, quality checking of common geological data (e.g., seismic, well and drillhole data), 3D geological interpretation, depth conversion, structural framework modelling through to construction of gridded and implicit models. As part of this module students will receive training in state-of-art industry standard software packages (Schlumberger’s Petrel Platform and Seequent’s Leapfrog) for 3D visualisation of subsurface data, seismic interpretation, horizon mapping and construction of 3D static models using well and seismic data. The software and modelling skills learned in this module will be applied in other modules and projects during the MSc course.

Practicals 1-6: Petrel modelling project.
Building of a structural framework model for a reservoir interval based on 3D seismic and well data as may be required for a range of applied subsurface industry projects. The project will involve mapping faults and seismic horizons to produce a consistent stratigraphic and structural model that honours the data. The structural framework model will then be used to create a gridded model in order to compute gross rock volume and fluid volumes. The key modelling uncertainties will be considered.

Practicals 7-12: Leapfrog modelling project
Building of a structural-stratigraphic model within a sedimentary basin with magmatic-volcanic elements, based on drillhole and geological mapping data. This will involve QA/QC of different types of data, and the combining, compositing, and processing of drillhole log databases. These data will be used to explore different horizon and volume modelling strategies and to create 3D interpretations of structural and stratigraphic elements. Ultimately these elements will be used to build a 3D structural-stratigraphic model, using both explicit and implicit modelling techniques. The basics of visualisation and interrogation of volumetric cell-based data (e.g. mineral resource estimates, block models) will be explored, as well as spatial querying of property data, such as geochemical assays.

GEOL40680 3D mapping and modelling II (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Koen Torremans

This 2.5-credit module builds on the GEOL40670 module and will consider more advanced mapping and modelling techniques as required for more complex geologies. Topics addressed will include dealing with gridding around faults and stratigraphic pinchout, use of seismic attribute volumes, modelling architectural elements such as channels, property modelling, integrating geochemical data and dealing with alteration halos.
The module will be taught through a series of extended practicals:
1. Geological Modelling of complex geological situations, assessing sedimentary, magmatic and vein systems simultaneously.
2. Modelling and interpolation of geochemical data in 3D.
3. Complex structural modelling using off-horizon, drillhole and outcrop structural data.
4. Interrogating, manipulating and calculating simple volumetric models.
5-8. Advanced stratigraphic-structural model building exercise using Petrel.

GEOL40600 Fieldwork (7.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Peter Haughton

The geology of the South-Pyrenean foreland basin system records an extended history of deformation and sedimentation adjacent to the evolving Pyrenean mountain belt. Deformation stepped deeper into the foreland in the region south of the central Pyrenees generating a series of interconnected wedge-top sub-basins. This 10-day field-based course will track the tectonic and depositional history of these interlinked basins, working from east to west along the sediment dispersal path from mountain source area across the shoreline and downslope into deep-water.
The course will involve a series of one and two-day exercises built around depositional architecture, stratigraphic prediction, structural analysis, tectonic-sedimentary interactions, fractured rock characterisation and geomodelling.

GEOL40620 Team-based modelling I (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Tom Manzocchi

In this hands-on module, teams of students compete to operate a producing oil reservoir in real-time. Initially, well data and maps are used to define a field development plan which is implemented in a flow simulator for each team by the module coordinator. Wells are drilled and operated according to the instructions of the team, and well performance data are provided back to the teams and inform their subsequent field management decisions.

A practical exercise run over one week and punctuated by operational deadlines. Operational decisions are based on analysis of maps and well data and incremental reservoir production data. Teams can work entirely on paper or use Petrel as they choose. A final report based on a post-mortem examination of field performance is written individually.

Following an introduction to the dataset, pairs (usually) of students work together over the course of a week to develop the reservoir. The module coordinator is available throughout for informal discussion with the teams and, more formally, twice-daily when the students submit their operational plans. At the end of the operation period, the students are presented with a flow model of their reservoir which forms the basis of the post-mortem analysis.

GEOL40630 Team-based modelling II (2.5 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Aline Melo

A team-based, competitive exercise involving the appraisal of the potential of an area for having a mineral deposit. Teams will be supplied with a preliminary subsurface geological, geophysical, and geochemical dataset and may acquire additional data from public sources. They will then build a subsurface model and rank the areas with higher potential for new mineral deposits, before presenting their results to an external industry panel and documenting their work and the outcomes in a technical memo.

The module is delivered as a combination of lectures, case studies, and practical exercise on analysis of multiple geological and geophysical data distributed over 5 weeks. As well as providing experience in teamwork, analysis and decision-making to tight deadlines, the exercise promote an opportunity for students to collaborate and innovate to transform geoscience data sets into their interpretation of the subsurface geology and mineralisation targets. The challenge offers students hands-on experience working with modern datasets encountered in the field, opportunities to improve their leadership and team-based skills, and the ability to expand their industry networks and increase potential employment opportunities.

GEOL40610 Applied Research Project (30 credits)
Module Co-ordinator Tom Manzocchi

Students will undertake a three-month applied research project in the technical area of their choosing. Projects will be selected and developed in consultation with relevant staff members and will have an industry focus in terms of the issues addressed, the data on which the project is based, or, where possible, an internship. The results will be reported as minor thesis, and all students will give a final exit presentation. This is a student-driven module. The student will be assigned a project topic tailored to their specific interests within the overall scope of the MSc. They will have an applied focus with well-defined objectives that the student will help shape. Students will have an internal supervisor who will help guide the work and provide advice, but the onus is on the student to develop and execute a work programme around the selected topic and to liaise with industry, as appropriate. The results of the project will be summarised in an original thesis and a final technical presentation which will be presented to colleagues, staff and industry representatives.