Campus: CSU Long Beach -- October 22, 2001
California State University, Long Beach Geological Sciences
Department Receives Software Valued at $826,000 from Seismic Micro-Technology,
Geological features hidden deep underground are now more
readily observable to students and faculty in the California State University,
Long Beach Geological Sciences Department through state-of-the-art Kingdom
Suite software contributed by Seismic Micro-Technology, Inc. of Houston.
The software license for 15 computer workstations is valued by Seismic
Micro-Technology at $826,413. The software is used on three stand-alone
computers and a 12-seat network to provide undergraduate and graduate
students with better tools for three-dimensional visualization of subsurface
geology and seismic imaging. The package is widely used by geoscience
firms, but Cal State Long Beach is one of the few west coast universities
to have it.
The new system increases the capabilities of students to do significant
research with faculty mentors and enhances lectures and hands-on training
provided by the 15-member Geological Sciences Department, said Robert
D. "Dan" Francis, a professor of geological sciences who applied
to the company for the contribution.
"This will significantly enhance our ability to train the highest
quality professional geologists--the mission of our department-as well
as research faults and earthquakes, global climate change, origin of fossil
energy resources, and many other subjects of concern to Southern California
residents," said Francis.
Francis immediately put the software to work on his research. He has begun
to input data from seven years of scanning the seafloor offshore from
Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbor areas
focusing on the Palos Verde Fault region. "The Palos Verdes Fault
is active and could generate up to a magnitude 7 earthquake. That's why
we're studying it," said Francis.
Francis and other faculty, along with student researchers, use acoustic
arrays towed from the R/V Seawatch, based at the Southern California Marine
Institute in Los Angeles Harbor. The boat gathers data showing geological
features as deep as several hundred meters below the seafloor. At the
same time, the students and faculty collect global positioning system
(GPS) data that pinpoint locations of the features.
Running the data sets from each towing session through the Kingdom Suite
software produces a variety of visualizations. Using two monitors attached
to one computer, students and faculty can see a flat map of the study
area on one screen and three-dimensional views of the geology on the second
screen. Users can zoom and rotate the views to examine such characteristics
as strata and fault lines.
"This will help students tremendously in their careers," said
Francis. "Students with a degree in geology who can put on their
resumé experience in geographical information systems, global positioning
satellite usage and three-dimensional visualization are potentially in
Francis has another goal-to build a major computer database of information
derived from the Geological Sciences Department's new Los Angeles Basin
Subsurface Data Center. Dedicated in May 2001, the center is a virtually
irreplaceable collection of well data contributed by numerous oil companies
and prominent geologists. With many of Southern California's oil wells
deactivated and little new drilling going on, well records were in danger
of being discarded; the geological information, much of it useful for
studying geo-hazards such as earthquakes, would then be lost.
"We have extensive paper records of at least 14,000 wells, and microfiches
of many more,"
said Francis, "including drilling records, logs, and paleontological
reports." It is hoped to someday to have many of these scanned for
use with programs similar to the Kingdom Suite. These data will enhance
educational experiences for students and faculty from CSULB and other
institutions, as well as provide valuable information for area geologists
Environmental science companies and the petroleum industry throughout
the country employ graduates from CSULB's fast-growing Geological Sciences
Department. The software contribution was the result of university contacts
in the geosciences field. Francis learned of the company's university
assistance program through San Fernando Valley petroleum geologist Thom
Davis. Also, 1978 CSULB geology alumnus Michael Enomoto, a former employee
of Seismic Micro-Technology, encouraged the firm to make the software
"My education at CSULB provided a solid foundation for my career
in geology and geophysics," said Enomoto, who uses such software
as senior geoscientist with Geoscience Earth and Marine Services in Houston.
"Whether it's looking for oil at minus 20,000 feet or mapping the
seafloor in 10,000 feet of water, the fundamental understanding of the
geosciences was firmly established at CSULB. What better way to give back
to my university?"