Research Inquiries

For inquiries related to SD Mines Research, contact:

Research Affairs

S.D. School of Mines & Technology
501 E. St. Joseph Street
Suite 102, O'Harra Building
Rapid City, SD  57701

(605) 394-2493

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.

Monitoring the Deep–Arrays of Seismometers Give Geoscientists New Insights into Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions

A team of student researchers from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and the University of Alaska Fairbanks heads into the Alaskan wilderness to place a series of seismometers along the Denali Fault.

On a cold February morning, just off the only highway adjacent to Alaska’s Denali National Park, Kevin Ward, Ph.D., and a group of students dig into the snow with shovels and ice axes. Once they reach the ground, the team places a small instrument into the frozen tundra. The sensor is about the size of a coffee can – but with a spike poking out of the bottom. After the sensor is set and covered with snow, the team drives about a half-mile and repeats the process. These researchers will place 400 of these devices over the next several days.

The array of seismometers they’re deploying along about 190 miles of the Denali Fault will detect tiny movements in the earth’s crust. By analyzing the seismic waves captured by these devices, the scientists can map the underground structure of this area. The data this team recovers will give a more detailed view than ever before of what’s happening along this section of the Denali Fault.

“People have done this in the past with earlier generation seismometers. But these new instruments give much higher resolution of what’s going on underground,” says Ward, an assistant professor of geology and geological engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

The kind of detailed analysis can be very useful for those who want to understand earthquakes. The Denali Fault is among the most active in the United States. In 2002, this fault...

Last Edited 9/9/2019 09:34:59 AM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines’ Energy Resources Initiative Publishes New Book “The Fossil Fuel Revolution”

Dr. Scyller J. Borglum and Daniel J. Soeder, authors of The Fossil Fuel Revolution: Shale Gas and Tight Oil.

The boom in tight oil and shale gas in the last two decades, fueled by a combination of directional drilling and staged hydraulic fracturing, has revolutionized the energy industry, revitalized reserves once thought depleted, changed the global energy market and raised environmental concerns.

In the new book, “The Fossil Fuel Revolution: Shale Gas and Tight Oil,” authors Daniel Soeder and Scyller Borglum, Ph.D., delve into these issues and describe the remarkable energy resources now being recovered from shales and other tight formations that have opened up substantial new energy reserves for the 21st Century.

The book includes the history of shale gas development, the technology used to economically recover hydrocarbons and descriptions of the 10 primary shale gas resources of the United States. The book also addresses international shale resources, environmental concerns and policy issues. Soeder is the director of the Energy Resources Initiative at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. Borglum co-authored the book while completing her doctorate degree in geology and geological engineering at SD Mines.

This book is intended as a reference on shale gas and tig...

Last Edited 8/28/2019 09:54:26 AM [Comments (0)]

SD Mines Team Pushes to Put CubeSat Swarm in Space

This image shows what a swarm of CubeSats orbiting Earth might look like. Credit NASA.

Satellites are often thought of as huge complicated devices that are deployed on the tops of rockets or in space shuttle payloads. They hold massive telescopes, sophisticated weather monitoring devices or global positioning system components.  The price tag for large satellites is often measured in billions, not millions. 

CubeSats are different. They’re smaller - think volleyball, not Volkswagen - and they’re cheaper.  NASA describes a CubeSat as a “low-cost pathway to conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations in space, thus enabling students, teachers, and faculty to obtain hands-on flight hardware development experience.”  The cost of these nanosatellites is small enough to fit into many school budgets. CubeSats are built to investigate areas of scientific interest such as the earth’s atmosphere, space weather, in-space propulsion, radiation testing, and communication, to name a few. Satellites are selected based on their investigations and how they align with NASA’s strategic plan.

One area of CubeSat research at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is to expand from one small satellite to a swarm of small satellites working together. This has the potential to multiply the impact and effectiveness of a single CubeSat.

“Sometimes you want t...

Last Edited 9/3/2019 10:50:28 AM [Comments (0)]

Study Finds Flooding Can Increase Mercury Levels in Some Lakes

Jim Stone, Ph.D. is one of the researchers on this study. He stands next to a fish consumption advisory warning on a lake in South Dakota.

A study by researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology on the concentration of mercury in the sediments of seven South Dakota lakes found that the pollutant generally enters the water bodies through runoff and can increase during times of flooding and lake expansion. 

The paper, titled “Historical sediment mercury deposition for select South Dakota, USA, lakes: implications for watershed transport and flooding,” was published this year in the Journal of Soils and Sediments.

Emissions from coal fired power plants are the main source of mercury pollution around the world. Mercury is distributed through the atmosphere until it settles on the land. Global deposition of mercury began with the start of the industrial revolution and peaked in the United States in the 1970s. The concentrations have gone down with emission reductions and pollution control in more recent decades. Historic mining and industrial operations are less common sources of mercury pollution.

The objective of the study was to determine the main source of mercury and to understand the history of mercury deposition on a diverse range of lakes in the state. The study included Wall Lake, West 81 Lake, Lynn Lake, Island Lake, Lake Hurley and Lake Sinai in the eastern part of the state, and Lake Isabel ...

Last Edited 8/1/2019 10:37:15 AM [Comments (0)]