Wednesday, January 13, 2016

UNO Lab Receives Funding, Scholarships and Data to Support Sea Level Rise Research

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The University of New Orleans’ Coastal Research Laboratory has received research funding, scholarship money and data from several companies and professional societies affiliated with the oil and gas industry. The donations will be applied to research projects, under an initiative of the New Orleans Geological Society, to study the impacts of relative sea level rise on Louisiana’s coast.

“We are extremely grateful for these donations of data and funding,” said Mark Kulp, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of the Coastal Research Laboratory. “The opportunity to use industry seismic data to image below the surface will significantly enhance our ability to understand processes that are occurring on the surface of the wetlands today, including relative sea level rise.”

Schlumberger Limited, the world’s largest oilfield services company, donated 253-square miles of three-dimensional seismic data, covering Lake Borgne. Geophysical Pursuit, Inc., a Houston-based data acquisition and licensing company, donated 382-linear miles of two-dimensional seismic data, covering Lake Pontchartrain. The data will be used for graduate level research projects to map geologic structures and sedimentary layers below the surface of the lakes. It will also be used to study the potential for active geologic fault movement as a cause of wetlands loss. The seismic data was originally acquired from 1990-2002 for use in oil and gas exploration, at an estimated cost of $25 million.

Paleo-Data, Inc., a New Orleans paleontological consulting company, also donated data that will be used in research projects to help determine the geological age of the sedimentary layers that are being mapped below the surface.

The Southeastern Geophysical Society made a $2,500 cash donation to the Coastal Research Lab to fund research projects that will utilize the seismic data. Additionally, the New Orleans chapter of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists awarded two $1,250 scholarships to graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences to support their seismic research. Joe Frank and Rachel Gaspard are the recipients.

The Coastal Research Laboratory, housed within UNO’s Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, assists with the planning, implementation and monitoring of coastal restoration projects.

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Mark Kulp, director of Coastal Research Laboratory
University of New Orleans Coastal Education Program