The New Age of Genocide and the Science of Large-Scale Human Identifications

Introducing Geoscientist Peter Eichhubl - Understanding Our Faults

bridges vol. 30, July 2011 / News from the Network: Austrian Researchers Abroad

By Juliet M. Beverly

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eichhubl_peter_small.jpgDr. Peter Eichhubl

In August 2009, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced the establishment of 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) with the goal of accelerating scientific breakthroughs in the search for revolutionary new energy solutions. This May, DOE hosted the first Energy Frontier Research Centers Summit & Forum in Washington, DC, to present to the public the early achievements of EFRCs. Prominent speakers included policymakers and legislators such as DOE Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Senator Jeff Bingaman. Also among the participants was Peter Eichhubl, an Austrian geoscientist working in fault and fracture research at the University of Texas, Austin (UT Austin) in the Jackson School of Geoscience, Bureau of Economic Geology, whose research tackles the issue of our rising energy needs.

Eichhubl, recently returned to the US from his native Austria where he maintains a visiting scientist position at the University of Vienna, relates the majority of his work to a theme that he has been studying since his 1997 Ph.D. dissertation at the University of California, Santa Barbara: rock deformation.

Rocks deform because of plate tectonics, which are movements in the Earth's lithosphere. When these movements occur in areas where the plates move against one another, they can cause earthquakes and volcanic activity, the formation of mountains and sedimentary basins, oceanic trenching and rock fracture. Many of the earth's natural resources such as oil, natural gas, and soil with ore deposits are concentrated near past or present plate boundaries. "It is of high interest to the gas and oil industry to know how the chemistry and deformation of rock can lead to accessing these resources," said Eichhubl referring to the surveys of the oil reservoir of Santa Barbara's coastline conducted for his Ph.D. study. Although California proved to be a dream state for fault and fracture research, a natural gas and oil research hub was thriving in Texas - home to many of America's big oil companies.

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