NSEONetherlands Solid Earth Observatory: (NSEO)

Contact details:

Prof. M.R. Drury
Department of Earth Sciences Utrecht University Postbus 80.021 3508 TA Utrecht
Earth Simulation Laboratory, Faculty of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University (to be opened in 2018); KNMI, de Bilt; Petrophysics Lab, TU Delft; Geochemical Facilities, VU Amsterdam;

The future EPOS-NL large-scale facilites will include a central, multi-scale, experimental laboratory, the Earth Simulation Lab (ESL) at Utrecht University linked to a network of specialist laboratories and data-centres at partner institutions. Services offered include, rock physics experiments, crust to reservoir-scale analog modelling experiments, and 3D imaging and fluid flow experiments. Microstructural and chemical analysis facilities are also available. Data services are provided by the ORFEUS data centre, at KNMI, for broadband seismic waveforms. New services for experimental data will be established within the ESL. The facilities will form a major part of the European Plate Observatory System (EPOS) which is now in the implementation phase.

The mission of the Netherlands Solid Earth Observatory (NSEO) facility for Georesources research is to serve societal needs for research on georesources exploration and safe exploitation. We propose to develop a new world class large scale research facility, the NSEO “Earth Simulation Laboratory” linked to specialized laboratories and data centres at partner universities and knowledge institutions.
Industry currently faces declining success rates in exploration for new energy and mineral resources, while global demand increases. In The Netherlands, Europe and beyond, induced seismicity, subsidence and other subsurface hazards are of increasing importance in relation to natural gas extraction, underground CO2 or gas storage, and the exploitation of geothermal energy. The problems associated with induced seismicity in the Groningen gas field are particularly acute and urgent.
The outstanding ‘grand challenge’ for georesources research is: how do we improve our understanding of the formation of georesource, where they are located, and how to safely exploit them? To predict georesources, we need an understanding, from the molecular to the continental scales, of the coupled processes of reactive multiphase fluid flow and of deformation and transport in complex porous and fractured media. The envisioned NSEO Earth Simulation Lab will create a unique, large-scale facility with unprecedented capabilities: fully coupled tectonic and sedimentary analogue models, new generation rock and fault mechanics experiments under true crustal conditions, unique integration of dynamic 3D fluid flow experiments and state-of-the-art microstructural, isotopic and geochemical analyses, all linked in an advanced numerical modelling and data facility. Crust-to-reservoir scale models will be developed by integrating numerical and analogue tectonic models that incorporate realistic rock properties and fluid compositions. These large-scale models will help predict the occurrence of new resources and forecast induced hazards. Mineral to rock scale models will be developed that couple deformation and reactive fluid flow based on rock physics and multiphase fluid flow theory and experiments. These small-scale models will in turn be up-scaled to the reservoir scale, forming a basis for new methods aimed at enhancing reservoir productivity. The primary scientific breakthrough expected is the development of a scientific foundation, involving the quantitative modelling capability, needed to predict the structure and evolution of the complex coupled systems that host georesources. Specific advances are anticipated in resource exploration, productivity and mitigation of induced hazards.
The NSEO facility will support research relevant to the stability and safe utilisation of the Dutch subsurface, addressing geothermal energy, induced earthquakes, unconventional gas and subsurface storage of hydrocarbons and CO2. NSEO will be a national facility that forms a major part of the European Plate Observatory System (EPOS).

Connection to strategic developments