Research

The research of our section is inspired by the societal need for natural resources (hydrocarbons, groundwater, etc.), the use of subsurface space (storage of heat or waste products, engineering constructions), and the mitigation of hazards (e.g. induced seismicity). Because of the transition from energy supply by hydrocarbons to sustainable energy, more emphasis has been put on the effects of production of hydrocarbons in the subsurface as well as on the development of sustainable geo-resources. Hence, monitoring and prediction of induced seismicity, storage of waste products (such as CO2), fracturing of reservoirs, production of geothermal energy etc., are issues which will be part of our research programme in the near future.

Applied geophysics is understood to cover exploration geophysics, addressing seismic and electromagnetic (EM) imaging and monitoring of hydrocarbon reservoirs, and shallow subsurface geophysics, dedicated to environmental and engineering problems. In relation to this, we define petrophysics as the study of physical rock properties and their interaction with fluids in porous and/or fractured materials, from micro scale up to reservoir scale.

The mission of the section of Geophysics and Petrophysics is to execute fundamental geophysical (seismic & EM) and petrophysical research, directed towards developing cutting–edge acquisition, imaging, characterization and monitoring methodologies for resource-exploration, environmental and engineering applications.

To address the mentioned societal needs we divide our research we divide our research in three main themes, which correspond to the different scales covered by the various applications:

  1. Exploration Geophysics (maximum depth of 5 km)
  2. Environmental and Engineering Geophysics (maximum depth of 50 m)
  3. Petrophysics (pore- and fracture scale, 1 µm to 10 cm)

Derived from the societal needs, the scientific challenges of our research programme encompass the geophysical and petrophysical observation, prediction and control of multi-scale geo-processes. To this end, our research concentrates on a number of interrelated disciplines, such as seismic and electromagnetic acquisition, imaging, characterization and monitoring methodology (active and passive), seismoelectric imaging, pore-scale process observation, fracture network control, etc. All these expertises are supported by laboratory experiments. Our laboratory includes facilities for acoustic and petrophysical measurements, optical and X-ray imaging and image quantification, data acquisition, and hydraulic and pneumatic infrastructure.

For a proper understanding of the multi-scale subsurface processes, the disciplines covered by our unit Geophysics are necessary but not sufficient. Therefore, the section cooperates with other sections in the Geo-Cluster. For example, our reservoir characterization is constrained by geological models developed in the section Geology, whereas reservoir monitoring benefits from fluid flow models developed by the section Geo-Resources.

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