Research@Mines

Research@Mines

Research at Mines happens every day of the year, involves faculty and students at every academic level, and frequently includes collaboration across the state, the nation and the globe.

Mines Scientists Study Methods to Control Ice Formation in Soils

Dr. Tejo Bheemasetti, a civil and environmental engineering department faculty member, works in a South Dakota Mines laboratory on an Environmental Triaxial Testing System, used to deep freeze and heat samples to examine the stresses created by the freeze thaw cycle on treated soils.

Water expands when it freezes. This simple yet fundamental fact of nature can lead to cracks in building foundations, crumbling roads and huge rocks that fall onto canyon roadways from the cliffs above.

Past research into this problem has shown that when the ground freezes tiny pockets of ice trapped in the soil expands. This can create what is known as frost-heave in the winter and in the spring, when ground thaws it creates thaw-weakening settlement. Over time this freeze-thaw cycle causes damage to the ground and poses major challenges for human made structures, like bridges, dams, pipelines, buildings, roads and homes. Each year, the freeze-thaw cycle leads to billions of dollars in mitigation and repair costs around the world.

Now, a team of scientists and engineers at South Dakota Mines has received $453,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation to seek solutions to these problems.

“We are trying to understand more about the fundamentals of ice formation underground and if there are natural methods that we can use to stop or control the ground from freezing,” says Tejo V. Bheemasetti, Ph.D., assistant professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at South Dakota Mines.

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Last Edited 1/27/2022 04:27:23 PM [Comments (0)]

Mines Researcher Adds to Study on Oyster Tissue Abnormalities

An oyster cluster collected on the coast of Louisiana by Dr. Laurie Anderson as part of a study on the long-term impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

This South Dakota Mines Research Blog article is based on a press release from the California Academy of Sciences published here.

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) petroleum drilling rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, resulting in the world’s worst oil spill in history with more than 4 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico. Though the short-term impact of the oil spill on local wildlife was widely researched among scientists and discussed in the media, there has been relatively little research on the long-term effects of the disaster. 

Laurie Anderson, Ph.D, professor and head of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering at South Dakota Mines, collected Eastern Oysters from the Gulf Coast. A second set of oysters was collected from the Chesapeake Bay area that were unaffected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

 “We were able to collect live specimens of common coastal species of snails, mussels, and oysters after the spill but prior to landfall of the spill throughout coastal Louisiana and Dauphin Island, Ala.,” says Anderson.  

Anderson joined other researchers from the Read Full Article

Last Edited 9/30/2021 02:36:53 PM [Comments (0)]

Researchers Evaluate SURF Extremophiles

Earlier this summer, RESPEC researcher Brian Bormes and Dr. Gokce Ustunisik from Mines took initial observations of the core sample on the 4100 Level of Sanford Underground Research Facility. Photo courtesy Gokce Ustunisik

This article was written by Erin Lorraine Broberg at the Sanford Underground Research Facility and republished here with permission. Find the original article here.

When first learning about the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), it can help to imagine it as a vast, inverted apartment complex. Experiments move into the large, underground caverns. And SURF provides the usual amenities: electricity, running water, elevator maintenance, radon mitigation, liquid nitrogen deliveries and, of course, shielding from cosmic rays.

But amidst the facility’s 370 miles of tunnels, shafts and drifts, there is one group of tenants who pay no rent at all. At SURF, billions of microorganisms—known to biologists as “extremophiles” for their ability to carve out a living far from sunlight and with limited oxygen—live deep underground.

This summer, a research group from South Dakota Mines (Mines) retrieved a core sample—a smooth cylinder of grey rock—from 4,100 feet below of the surface of SURF. Under a microscope, it wriggled with SURF’s hardiest inhabitants.

From this sample, the research group hopes to find a microbe with a distinct set of characteristics that could help store excess greenhouse gases deep underground.

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Last Edited 9/30/2021 02:35:45 PM [Comments (0)]

South Dakota Mines Constructs Living Laboratory on Campus

Mines civil and environmental engineering graduate student unrolls hay on one of the test plots.

South Dakota Mines is home to a new living laboratory that is located on a hill above the main campus. This long-term study will help students and the community understand how vegetation and ground cover impacts soil erosion, water quality, ecosystems and our shared natural resources.

The study area is a steep exposure of the Belle Fourche Shale rock formation that had been a problem area for erosion and contained little-to-no vegetation. The living laboratory includes over 20 small plots in a grid that have different erosion control treatments, ranging from engineered products to low-tech solutions such as hay cover or mulch. Each treatment option was designed and built by undergraduate student researchers with the assistance of faculty and instructors. The study is funded by the West Dakota Water Development District (WDWDD). The elected board is one of seven water development districts in the state, organized for the purpose of promoting conservation, development and management of resources.

Each year, students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will collect data on the treatments laid out in the living laboratory. Over the coming years, the data collected by students wi...

Last Edited 10/26/2021 09:18:00 PM [Comments (0)]

Research Inquiries

For inquiries related to South Dakota Mines Research, contact:

Research Affairs

South Dakota Mines
501 E. St. Joseph Street
Suite 102, O'Harra Building
Rapid City, SD  57701

(605) 394-2493