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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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$2.1 million software donation furthers NMSU geoscientists’ research

A key part of many fields such as oil and gas exploration, mining, gas storage, carbon sequestration and geothermal energy development is being able to predict what is under the Earth’s surface. New Mexico State University faculty and students will now be able to use cutting-edge techniques to analyze the subsurface structure of the Earth thanks to a donation of software worth more than $2.1 million from Petroleum Experts, Ltd.


Side view of man using a computer
Geological Sciences graduate student Ron Sholdt opens the Move geological software package donated to NMSU by Petroleum Experts, Ltd. (Courtesy Photo)

“We are very excited that our faculty and staff will have access to the Move software package,” said Nancy McMillan, Regents professor and department head of NMSU’s Department of Geological Sciences. “We appreciate the donation from Petroleum Experts, Ltd. This will allow us to apply state-of-the-art methods of structural analysis for teaching and research.”

Reed Burgette, assistant professor of geological sciences, initiated the request for the software, and is coordinating the use of the Move software suite following the donation from Petroleum Experts, Ltd.

“This software gives NMSU students the opportunity to learn skills relevant to employment in a variety of sectors,” said Burgette. “It allows users to construct 2D cross-sections as well as 3D models using available surface and subsurface geologic observations.”

A geometric model of the deformed crust can be restored to an un-deformed state to test for compatibility of the model with principles of structural geology and to understand the history of deformation through time. Additional modules of the program permit analysis of the relationships between faults and fractures and stress and strain in the deformed crust.

NMSU geological sciences faculty and students conducting research on tectonics ¬– large-scale processes affecting the structure of the Earth’s crust – will use the software to understand the history of active and past deformation in diverse settings, including the Rio Grande rift of southern New Mexico, the Transverse Ranges of southern California and the Tien Shan Mountains of Central Asia.

“The Move software will enable faculty and students to pursue new directions in research at NMSU,” said Burgette. “This will be a great opportunity for our students to work with the kinds of 3D modeling tools they will be expected to master once they graduate and are in the workforce.”