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, Inc.

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 high demand."

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 and geophysicists.

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 available.

"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?"

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