The Experimental Geophysics Group (EGG) carries out a variety of laboratory and field projects. We have built up over the years an extensive set of equipment to conduct this research - and this has allowed us to contribute to numerous projects worldwide.  The laboratory too has developed many new techniques in house that attract numerous collaborations globally.  EGG's research is 'hands on' and graduate students will often be involved in all facets from data acquisition through modelling and analysis. If you want to work with us expect to get your hands dirty at some point!

We welcome collaborations and exchanges with other researchers and industry partners. We are able to carry out limited fee for service on some specialized types of laboratory measurements.

Overview of Some of Our Current Research



Chicxulub Impact Structure - ICDP/IODP Expedition 364 – April-June 2016

 Expedition 364 drilled into the peak ring structures of the Chicxulub Impact Structure, Yucantan, Mexico.  Ph.D. Student Nixon, Kofman, and Schmitt together with colleagues from UT-Austin and Imperial College carried out active source vertical seismic profile (VSP).  The initial results are published in Science; one interesting aspect is that the density and seismic wave speeds in the ‘granite’ brought from depth during formation of the peak ring are very low.   We will soon be working on the core to make P and S wave measurements under pressure to assist in determining why.


Deep Seismic Monitoring at the Aquistore CO2 Sequestration Project – Boundary Dam Power Plant, Estevan, Saskatchewan


With partners from the Petroleum Research Technology Centre, the Geological Survey of Canada, and Bristol University, we developed a system to carry out longer term microsesimic monitoring at great depth.  The basis of the system is our new Sercel Slimwave geophone chain together with a wireline with 3 km capacity.  We successfully obtained nearly 12 weeks of continuous seismic recording at nearly 3 km and 115°C – which may be a world record.   We are still analyzing the data, but we did detect regional mine blasts and even large teleseisms – it is very quiet at 3 km in the Williston Basin!

Some initial results were recently reported.  We hope to return soon as more CO2 is injected.



Scientific Drilling on the Alpine Fault – New Zealand


We have been heavily involved in the efforts at scientific drilling of the Alpine Fault contributing to scoping reflection studies in 2012, being on the rig (with M.Sc. student Mallyon) during ICDP DSDP-2B drilling with primary responsibility for carrying out the hydraulic fracturing stress determinations (2014), and using the Sercel chain (2016) for combined surface and borehole measurements in the borehole with initial results reported at the 2016 SEG Annual meeting. 

It is not so quiet at depth in New Zealand!  Phd students Nixon and Wei Li are working on analyzing the borehole seismic data and making anisotropy measurements on mylonites collected in the vicinity of the fault.



Near Surface Seismic Investigation – Baffin Island, Nunavut


M.Sc. Student Ryan Ferguson with support from Baffinland Mines, organized a high resolution seismic survey over buried banded iron formation deposits on Baffin Island in 2015.   Ryan is analyzing the data and also making laboratory measurements of the physical properties of these very high grade iron ores.

Effects of Pressure and Temperature on Bitumen Saturated Carbonates – Application to the Grosmont Formation, Alberta


We are working closely with industrial partners Laracina and OSUM to study the physical properties and geomechanics of the Grosmont Formation of NE Alberta.   A number of studies funded as part of an NSERC CRD include:

·         Effects of Temperature and Pressure on ultrasonic P and S waves through bitumen saturated core samples (Ong, Rabbani)

·         Use of ultrasonic methods to determine the moduli, density, and viscosity of bitumen under pressure and temperature (Rabbani)

·         Analysis of image logs at the Saleski Pilot Project for stress and borehole stability (Morin)

·         Strength of saturated carbonates (Epp)

·         Numerical calculation of low frequency seismic responses (Wang)


Anisotropic Reflectivity – Laboratory and Theory


PhD student Malehmir has been studying in the laboratory the reflectivity of anisotropic media as analogs to field azimuthal amplitude studies.  He recently published his code entitled ‘ARTc’ that calculates the reflectivity from the contact between two arbitrarily oriented ansisotropic half-spaces.  He has also developed code to model the reflections of an ultrasonic beam that is necessary to understand his laboratory observations.

Understanding Ultrasonic Behaviour in Anisotropic Materials


When working in the laboratory to measure the wave speeds through anisotropic materials the fact that the ultrasonic beams ‘skew’ (i.e. are shifted) causes issues with regards to the accuracy of such measurements. PhD student Wei Li has developed code that properly models the propagation of beams through such materials and has shown how this affects the accuracy of measurements.  He is applying these concepts in the determination of the complete set of elastic constants for mylonites near the Alpine Fault, New Zealand.

We have also recently published our anisotropy determinations on unconventional reservoir rocks from Alberta, the Duvernay Formation is very anisotropic!

Complex Conductivity Measurements

PhD Mohammed has pioneered a new system in our laboratory to make measurements of the complex conductivity on rock samples from ~DC to 1000 Hz.  He is using this to test some fundamental concepts with regards to the electrical conductivity of clay containing sands.  He also expects to apply this to constraining the electrical properties of CO2-brine saturated rocks.