Geoscience & Engineering Colloquium SPARKS

SPARKS is a series of brown bag colloquia with the objective to provide impetus for research in our department facing the challenges of tomorrow's world. In order to gain inspiration and be exposed to high-impact research areas with potential for key scientific innovation, we invite scientists from outside our department / the TU. The idea is to open up our minds and listen to these 'out-of-our-box' topics. After each lecture there will be sufficient time for discussion with the guest speaker.
“From a little spark may burst a flame.” - Dante Alighieri

Colloquia held from 2007 to 2011: 

Prof.dr. Roel Snieder
Colorado School of Mines
13 December 2011 
Ten ethics questions for scientists and engineers

Science and engineering in the broadest sense not only help us better understand the world in which we live; these fields also increase the power that we hold over the world. Unfortunately, neither science nor engineering comes with a recipe how to use that  power. This idea is captured by the writer Goswani who states that  "Creativity unguided is a two-edged sword. It can be used to enhance  the ego at the expense of civilization. One must apply creativity with wisdom." Helping students grow the wisdom how to use science and engineering responsibly is one of the goals of teaching ethics. In addition, students benefit from learning how to make ethical decisions in the daily practice of science. In this presentation, I present 10 ethics questions that help discover our values as scientists and engineers.

Prof. dr. Kristina Lauche
Faculty of Management Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen
12 April 2011
Intelligent Energy and Human Factors in Drilling: Implications for Technology Acceptance and Safety
The drilling community has made huge progress in recent years in applying sensor technology, capitalising on increased bandwidth and developing software solution to turn data into useful information to make better decisions faster. Most operators and major drilling contractors have established facilities to monitor and support drilling operations from a distance. While the business case for such Intelligent Energy programmes is relatively straightforward, the implications for the individuals and teams involved have rarely been studied. The talk will report findings from a human factors assessment of remote drilling support in Norway and a 2-year study on the implementation of advanced technology in Aberdeen. Although technically supported, drilling remains a human task in dealing with complex, dynamic situations. The relevance of human factors has also been highlighted by the Macondo blow-out. Drawing on accident investigation and similar cases in other domains, the talk will address how humans can contribute to the onset, but also to the mitigation of disaster.

Dr. Alfred Eustes
Petroleum Engineering Department, Colorado School of Mines
4 March 2011 - Joint lecture with Studium Generale (
Driller in a Strange Land: Searching for Life on Mars
One of the fundamental questions that mankind has asked from the beginning of time is: Are we alone in the Universe? There is one place accessible to mankind that has the strongest possibility to answer this question. Mars. We know for certain of one Genesis of life, Earth. Was there a second Genesis? Or was there a single Genesis but it was on Mars and migrated to Earth? Are we really Martians? This presentation will cover the latest information on the basic characteristics of Mars, as we understand it today. It will also cover some of the current thoughts regarding Martian geology and its possible history with the implications for life. The various Mars missions to date have indicated that there were no organic materials present at the surface of the planet; however, as on Earth, there could be a large biomass under the surface. To determine that, drillers are needed to access the subsurface. This presentation will cover some of the current plans for Martian subsurface exploration and the techniques for getting there.

Prof. dr. Heino Falcke
Department of Astrophysics, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
15 Februari 2011
Sparks in the Sky - Radio Astronomy at  the Highest Time-Resolution with LOFAR
We are currently commissioning one of the largest radio telescopes in the world, LOFAR. This new-generation digital radio telescope is localized largely in the Netherlands and is realized as a phased array, consisting of thousands of individual radio antennas spread over tens to hundreds of kilometres. The antennas are connected to a high-speed data network and a super computer. An innovative feature is that LOFAR provides access to the fastest observable time scales from milliseconds down to nanoseconds using transient buffer boards. These boards and the distributed nature of the antennas, allows besides the astronomical application, also looking for transient radio signals in our own atmosphere in three dimensions. Examples for such ultra-fast near-field radio sources are cosmic ray air showers and lightning. Cosmic ray air showers are produced, e.g., when an atomic nucleus, which was energized in a cosmic supernova explosion, hits the earth atmosphere at almost light speed. The LOPES (LOFAR Prototype Station) experiment has already successfully imaged these radio signals on time scales of tens of nanoseconds, which are thousand times brighter than the sun. It was also shown that these atmospheric particle cascades are strongly amplified by electric fields in thunderstorm clouds. Other applications of this technique concern the search for radio flashes from neutrinos hitting the moon or giant flares from pulsars. The former has already set the world’s best limit for cosmic ultra-high-energy neutrinos at the very highest energies.

Dr. Jack Voncken
TU Delft
11 January 2011
Rare Earth Elements, do you encounter them every day?
Rare Earth Elements: Yttrium, Lanthanum, Europium, Terbium, Dysprosium en Neodymium, do you use them also every day? You will be amazed where you find them in!
They are all metals that are applied as important byproducts in a diversity of modern items. Because of their specific properties they are more and more indispensable in our modern high-tech society: batteries, windmills, computers, TV screens and computer screens, mobile phones, audio equipment, hybrid cars, medical and defense applications, catalysts, new alloys and materials. It is not surprising that market prices for these elements have risen strongly in the past 10 years. Countries like China and the USA are searching for deposits of these metals in Africa, Brazil, Bolivia, and Afghanistan. They do this for obtaining strategic reserves, and to secure interests. China, which possesses one of the greatest deposits of these metals in the world, en controls 93 – 94 % of the world market, has announced at the end of 2008, beginning of 2009 to produce henceforth only for their own internal market. In short term, a shortage of these elements on the world market is to be expected. Now what are these Rare Earth Elements?  Where do they occur? How are they produced? What is their value? How are they used? Do you use them (probably even daily)?

Dr. Hans Huisman
Cultural Heritage Agency (The Netherlands)
7 December 2010
What remains? Degradation and in situ  protection of archaeological sites
Archaeological remains are increasingly viewed as valuable; as subjects for study of the human past, as links to our cultural heritage and because of their aesthetic value. However, archaeological remains are under threat from various human activities; especially tillage, drainage and construction. Recent European rules and national legislation have resulted in a large increase in "rescue" excavations, and the development of a commercial archaeological market. But also in the development of a new field of research and technology for protecting archaeological remains in situ, i.e. in the soil. i In this field, the focus at first was mainly on the protection and monitoring of archaeological sites in wetlands, where drainage is a severe problem. This has resulted in a general knowledge on the degradation processes and preferable burial conditions, and in a series of techniques for monitoring archaeological sites. The research focus is now shifting to the fate of archaeological sites underneath constructions (buildings, infrastructure, etc.). The main question is to what extent the various types of archaeological values will remain for future research. Answering this question requires knowledge on e.g. the impact of piling, the effects of loading and compression and changes in the burial environment underneath constructions.

Prof. dr. Salomon Kroonenberg
TU Delft
9 November 2010
Spitzbergen: From snowball earth to subtropical desert and back to the ice age
In Spitsbergen the idea originated that around 700 million years ago the earth was a snowball: glaciated all over from poles to equator, starting from glaciers in the tropics. Even up to the present day this idea is as hotly debated as anthropogenic global warming. Evidence comes from dropstones in deep marine sediments, carbon isotopes and paleomagnetism. Extreme CO2 outpout from volcanoes would have ended the cold spell. During the Caledonian orogeny in the late Paleozoic Spitsbergen collided with eastern Greenland. At that time the archipelago was located close to the equator and suffered the desertic climate preponderant throughout Pangea: this is evidenced by outcrops of the Devonian Old red Sandstone. In the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Spitsbergen gradually drifted to its present position. Six source rock horizons in Paleozoic and Mesozoic shallow marine deposits led to the formation of oil and gas reservoirs in the Barentsz sea, such as the Russian Shtokman field. The two kilometres thick ice cap that covered both Spitsbergen and the Barentsz sea in the Pleistocene ice ages pushed part of the oil to the rims of the basins, which explains some disappointing wells in the area. In the Holocene, glaciers shrunk considerably, the land was uplifted by the release of the weight of the continental ice cap. The land is still rising, as can be seen from marine terraces. Holocene climate during the Climatic Optimum 6000 years ago was up to 4 C warmer than today, so present-day arctic warming is not occurring there for the first time.

Dr. Christian Stoller
Schlumberger, Princeton Technology Center
6 October 2010
Fast Neutrons Reveal the Composition of Matter on Mars: From Petroleum Exploration to Outer Space
There has been a longstanding interest in obtaining a more accurate idea of the elemental composition of the surface of Mars. But how do we perform chemical analysis on Mars or on asteroids without touching the soil? Most measurements that have been proposed for the exploration on Mars only see a very shallow layer of the surface. In order to analyze the properties of the top 30 cm of the Mars surface, a proposal has been made to use a techniques that has been applied in the search for petroleum under the surface of the Earth for decades. Similar to wireline’s ECS (elemental capture spectroscopy), fast neutrons are used to irradiate the surface and to measure induced gamma-rays and scattered neutrons. To this end, Schlumberger provides neutron sources and spectral-gamma-ray detectors to NASA.

Dr. Aline Concha Dimas
Geological Institute of Catalonia, Spain
18 March 2010
Geological and geotechnical analysis ofDInSAR data in the Catalonian territory
Analysis and monitoring of terrain movements a Catalonia, Spain, has been performed by the interdisciplinary Subsidence Group at the Institut Geològic de Catalunya and the Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya. The analysis consisted on using 39 SAR satellite images (ERS and ENVI) for the period 1992-2006. The results show mining-induced subsidence sites, already known, and reveal new sites with unknown subsidence mechanism. For these new sites, investigations are carried out to identify the materials and geological processes involved that might generate the measured subsidence. This presentation shows the results obtained for the pilot site at Sant Feliu del Llobregat: from characterization of subsidence rates and geological compilation to the generation of hydrological, geological and numerical models in order to characterized and evaluate the subsidence mechanism.
Prof. dr. Marc de Vries
TU Delft, Philosophy section of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, and head of the research group of Science Education and Communication, Faculty of Applied Science
10 March 2010
Particularities of engineering sciences. Looking at geosciences and -technologies from a philosophy of sciences point of view
Engineering sciences, geotechnology included, have not received much attention in the philosophy of technology so far. Most attention was given to the natural sciences. But engineering sciences have particular characteristics that make them different from natural sciences. In the colloquium I will present some recent research into the nature of technological knowledge and the nature of engineering sciences. Particular attention will be paid to geotechnological sciences of course. Such philosophical reflections on the nature of science are valuable for all academicians, whatever their particular area, making them aware of possibilities and limitations of science or technology.

Dr. B.J.A. Willigers
Palantir Economic Solution
16 February 2010
How to successfully compete in the E&P industry: Decision Analysis and Game Theory
One of the most influential concepts in strategic management is the creation of a Competitive Advantage. A firm has a competitive advantage when it is able to generate higher profit margins then its industry peers. A company can only create a sustainable competitive advantage by doing something distinctive which is impossible or difficult to replicate. Although it is very difficult for E&P companies to develop a competitive advantage given that all players have access to the same technology and often use the same raw data, few companies have attempted to create a competitive advantage by developing a superior decision making process. Decision analysis is a process that creates a rational decision making framework which enables decision makers to address the complexity of the real world. The goal of decision analysis is to give guidance, information, insight, and structure to the decision-making process in order to make better, more 'rational' decisions. Game theory can be regarded as an expansion of classical decision analysis. Game theory, in contrast to classical decision analysis, specifically addresses the interactions between different stakeholders or players and the effect this interaction bears on the expected payoff for all players. In the high-risk E&P industry, the profit of each stakeholder depends on the strategies of all. The optimal choice for one player may not be optimal for other players, who may opt to prevent it. In a business dominated by joint ventures and tight governmental regulation, an understanding of the interests and influence of all stakeholders is particularly important.  

Richard Boak
Regional Manager Europe & Africa, Schlumberger Water Services, Delft
12 January 2010
Hydrogeological impacts of dewatering quarries, mines and engineering works; a case study from the UK
This talk will describe the development of practical guidance on assessing the hydrogeological impacts of dewatering operations at quarries, mines and engineering works. The guidance was developed for the Environment Agency, which is the environmental regulator in England and Wales. Pumping groundwater for dewatering purposes used to be exempt from licensing control, but recent changes in legislation removed that exemption. Several common misconceptions about how groundwater abstractions behave had to be addressed during the project, including the idea that recharge to groundwater from rainfall reduces the impacts of pumping, or that there will only be an impact if groundwater levels are lowered. The impact assessment methodology was discussed with and tested by various stakeholders in the quarrying industry.

Dr. Gianmaria Falco
Institute of Theoretical Physics, Cologne University, Germany
8 December 2009
From the oil fields to superfluids
Superfluidity is a phase of matter in which unusual effects are observed when liquids, typically of helium-4 or helium-3, overcome friction by surface interaction when at a stage (known as the ”lambda point” for helium-4) at which the liquid’s viscosity becomes zero. The study of superfluid helium in porous media has a history dating from the time of the discovery of the phenomenon of superfluidity itself. Since superfluidity is also a manifestation of quantum mechanics, superfluids couple differently than a classical fluid to the porous medium and they could be rather useful in revealing the physical properties of these complex systems. Flow, dispersion, and displacement processes in natural porous media or industrial synthetic porous matrices arise in many diverse fields of science and engineering, such as soil sciences and petroleum engineering. In this talk, I shall try to elucidate the deep connections between these latter and some fundamental issues of the physics of the quantum liquids in disordered media.

Dr. Antonio Cattaneo
IFREMER, Brest, France
2 November 2009
Stratigraphic architecture of late Quaternary deposits in the Western Adriatic Sea and implication for sediment transport
On the land-locked Adriatic shelf (Central Mediterranean) shore-parallel mud wedges developed both during highstand and falling sea level conditions, in stacked depositional sequences representing a 100-kyr cyclicity. Within each sequence, muddy clinoforms are tens of meters thick and rest on regional downlap surfaces that can be traced over hundreds of km parallel to the modern coast. During modern (highstand) conditions, lateral advection by bottom currents may represent a key sedimentary process for the deposition of the late Holocene Adriatic mud wedge, that reached a volume of 180 km3 along the western coast of the basin; comparable processes may have contributed to the construction of older units deposited during previous highstands.

Prof.dr. Carl Amos
School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, Southampton Oceanography Centre, UK
2 November 2009
The stability of cohesive sediments in Venice lagoon
The stability of cohesive sediments from Venice lagoon has been measured in situ using the benthic flume Sea Carousel. Twenty four stations were occupied during summertime, and a sub-set of 13 stations was re-occupied during the following winter. Erosion thresholds and first-order erosion rates were estimated and showed a distinct difference between inter-tidal and sub-tidal stations. The higher values for inter-tidal stations are the result of exposure that influences consolidation, density, and organic adhesion. The thresholds for each state of sediment motion are well established. However, the rate of erosion once the erosion threshold has been exceeded is poorly treated. This because normally a time-series of sediment concentration (C) and bed shear stress (τ0(t)) is used to define threshold stress or cohesion ( τcrit,z) and erosion rate (E). Whilst solution of the onset of erosion, τcrit,0, is often reported, the evaluation of the erosion threshold variation with erosion (eroded depth) is usually omitted or not estimated. This usually leads to assumptions on the strength profile of the bed which invariably has no credibility within the topmost mm of the bed where most erosion takes place. It is possible to extract this information from a time-series through the addition of a step in data processing. This talk describes how this is done, and the impact of this on the accuracy of estimates of the excess stress (τcrit,z – τo(t)) on E.

Prof.dr. Andrei Metrikine
Section of Structural Mechanics, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, TU Delft
6 october 2009
Main mechanisms of generation of elastic waves by moving loads: theory and application to high-speed railway lines
The theory of wave generation by moving loads has a number of applications, including Non-Destructive Testing(NDT), sound generation of various vehicles, speed monitoring, etc. In this talk, this theory is viewed through the prism of its application to generation of elastic waves by high-speed trains. The main mechanisms of generation of elastic waves by moving loads will be classified in terms accepted in general physics (acoustics, hydrodynamics, electrodynamics) and directly linked to the specific situations in the dynamics of high-speed railway lines. The following mechanisms will be discussed: generation in non-uniform motion, transition radiation, Cherenkov radiation and generation by a harmonic load. These mechanisms govern vibrations of the rails, generation of ground waves and the accompanying vibration hindrance, as well as the vibration of the overhead power lines. It is also very important that the radiated waves interact with their source. For example, the train wheels may get destabilized by the anomalous Doppler waves excited in the rails. Analogously, the string-type waves in the overhead power lines may destabilize the current collector and cause a significant drop in the energy collection. The wave resistance associated with the momentum of radiated waves may turn to be an important factor in the energy loss by high speed trains. All these aspects will be addressed in the presentation. At the end of the talk, if time permits, a brief overview of the projects in the research group Wave Dynamics of the Section of Structural Mechanics of our faculty will be given.

Prof.dr. Stephen Holditch
Texas A&M University, USA
15 june 2009
How Technology Transfer Will Expand the Development of Unconventional Gas Worldwide
For over 50 years, unconventional gas resources have been under development in North America. Natural gas production from tight gas sands, coal seams and shales currently account for around 50% of the gas production in the United States.  During this development, the keys to success are gas prices and technology improvements. Every time prices go up, more unconventional gas wells can be drilled. As technology improves, more gas can be produced economically and more wells are drilled. It is expected that all major oil and gas basins in the world contain unconventional gas. In the next 50 years, the technology currently in use and new technology developments will allow for the exploration, development and production of substantial quantities of gas from unconventional reservoirs worldwide.

Dr.Katrin Monecke
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, USA
26 june 2009
A rapidly prograding beach ridge plain in northern Sumatra as an archive for past tsunamis
The 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and following tsunami were unprecedented in Aceh, the northernmost province of Sumatra. In this study we use buried sand sheets on a coastal beach ridge plain to extend tsunami history 1000 years into Aceh’s past. The 2004 tsunami deposited a sand sheet up to 1.8 km inland on a marshy beach ridge plain. Sediment cores from these coastal marshes revealed two older extensive sand sheets with similar sediment characteristics.  These sheets, deposited soon after AD 1290-1400 and AD 780-990, probably represent earlier tsunamis. An additional sand sheet of limited extent might correlate with a documented smaller tsunami of AD 1907. Future work will combine a thorough survey of the beach ridge plain, luminescence dating of beach ridges and a detailed study of spatial data to understand long-term coastal progradation and short-term coastal recovery after the dramatic changes caused by the December 2004 earthquake and following tsunami.

Dr. Steffen Berg
Rock & Fluid Physics, Shell International Exploration and Production B.V.
21 April 2009
Effects of Interfaces on Fluid Flow
Boundary conditions can have a major impact on fluid flow in general but also on fluid transport in porous media. For fluid flow in porous media usually no-slip boundary conditions between the fluids and the rock interface are assumed. But in literature there are several cases reported where the relative permeability data for oil-water flow show relative permeability endpoints > 1 which is incompatible with the assumption of a no-slip boundary condition. A large data set recorded in Shell over several years confirms this effect showing a signature that can be parameterized with a slip model. In practice, this means that at the endpoint, i.e. the irreducible saturation of the wetting phase, the non-wetting phase has a larger conductivity than the wetting phase in single-phase flow.
This example of the slip boundary condition shows how static properties at an interface can impact fluid flow. But the interface itself can have dynamic effects and create fluid flow. An example is the Marangoni-driven spreading between liquid-liquid interfaces where a gradient in interfacial tension along an interface between two immiscible phases causes fluid flow. In our experiments we found that surfactant solutions spread along the interface between water and decane over distances of more than 20 cm in less than 1 second which makes spreading along an interface a much faster transport mechanism than for instance bulk diffusion.

Prof.dr. Farrokh Nadim
International Center for Geohazards, Oslo, Norway
31 March 2009
- Joint colloquium with the Section of Hydraulic Engineering, TU Delft -
Offshore geohazards and case study of the Storegga megaslide
Exploitation of offshore resources, development of communication and transport corridors, fishing habitat protection, and the protection of coastal communities, have contributed to a growing interest in improved understanding of offshore geohazards, in particular seafloor mass movements and their consequences. The various offshore geohazards that could pose a threat to subsea installations will be presented and specific problems related to submarine slides will be discussed.  The focus of the presentation will be on the Storegga megaslide in the Norwegian Sea, which has been studied in detail during the past decade in connection with the Ormen Lange gas field development. The Storegga slide, which occurred about 8200 years ago, is one of the largest submarine slides in the world. The estimated soil masses removed by the slide are between 2500 and 3500 km3. Evidence of a tsunami generated by this slide event has been found along the coastlines of Norway, Scotland and the Faeroe Islands. The headwall scar of the Storegga slide has a total length of about 300 km, and the run-out distance for the mobilised sediments was as much as 800 km. The headwall slide scars are steep (locally about 30°), with heights in the order of 100 to 250m. The main part of the failure surfaces of the Storegga slide followed the stratigraphy at inclinations of less than 1.5°, with large areas having an inclination of 0.3 to 0.5°. In 1997 the Ormen Lange gas field was discovered within the slide scar of the Storegga slide, about 130km west-northwest of the city of Kristiansund in Norway. With estimated recoverable gas reserves of 400 billion standard m3, Ormen Lange is the second largest gas field in the Norwegian Sea. Understanding of the in situ conditions and mechanisms that could generate the enormous Storegga slide at such low inclinations is of vital importance for the assessment of the risk posed by submarine slides to the development of the Ormen Lange gas field.

Prof. dr. Ernst Sudhölter
Faculty of Applied Sciences, TU Delft
10 March 2009
Nano-organic chemistry
After a short introduction into the field of nano-organic chemistry and its position in the department of chemical engineering, the lecture will focus on 3 selected subjects: 1. the development of (bio)sensors via the covalent functionalisation of silicon surfaces; 2. the stabilisation of Pluronic triblock copolymer nanocapsules by the formation of an interpenetrating polymeric network; and 3. the development of affinity separation chromatography within capillary columns and microreactors.

Prof. dr. Nanne Weber
KNMI and Utrecht University
24 February 2009
Glacial climate as a benchmark for climate models
The simulation of past climatic states is an important benchmark for General Circulation Models (GCMs) used to predict future climatic changes. In this colloquium I will discuss various aspects of climate during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), which occurred 21,000 years ago. This is the most recent period that climate was very different from today. Many modelling groups have carried out simulations for the LGM in the framework of the Paleoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project, so that multi-model results can be compared to (and validated against) proxy data. It will be shown that some aspects of climatic change are well represented in atmosphere-ocean GCMs, such as large-scale temperature changes, that in other cases proxy-based climate reconstructions had to be revised in view of model-data discrepancies while again there are aspects where all models diverge such as changes in the ocean circulation. In some models the Atlantic conveyer belt slows down during the LGM (by 20-40%), while in other models there is an increase in circulation strength (by 10-40%). It is examined whether there is at least agreement among models on the mechanism that maintains the glacial circulation. What do we conclude from these results regarding the skill of climate models for predicting future climate change?

Dr. Jakob Wallinga
Netherlands Centre for Luminescence dating (NCL), TU Delft
24 February 2009
Luminescence dating; to see the world in a grain of sand
Life of an earth scientist would be a lot easier, but possibly less fascinating, if grains of sand could tell us their history. However ridiculous this idea may sound, luminescence dating makes it true ….. to some extent. Luminescence dating techniques determine the time of deposition and burial of sediments. The method is applicable to deposits formed during the past glacial-interglacial cycle (i.e. 130.000 years), and sometimes beyond that. Where earlier luminescence dating methods were largely restricted to aeolian deposits, modern methods based on the optically stimulated luminescence signal of quartz grains are also successfully applied to fluvial, coastal and marine sediments. Delft University of Technology houses the Netherlands Centre for Luminescence dating (NCL); Delft Earth participates in this collaboration. The NCL aims to use luminescence dating to establish new chronologies for earth sciences and archaeology, and to develop new and improved luminescence dating methods. In this presentation possibilities and limitations of luminescence dating will be discussed based on dating results of NCL projects. Special attention will be given to an ongoing project investigating storm-surge deposits along the Dutch coast.

Dr. Martin Thullner
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
27 January 2009
Influence of microbial growth on water flow in saturated porous media
The decrease of hydraulic conductivity and porosity of a saturated porous medium due to growth of microbial biomass is known as bioclogging. Bioclogging may influence the flow rate of groundwater wells, the infiltration of surface water into the subsurface or the performance of reactive barriers used for in situ bioremediation of groundwater. The interplay between microbial, and flow and transport processes has been investigated in laboratory experiments. In addition pore network and continuum scale reactive transport simulation have been performed to obtain a quantitative understanding of the observed clogging phenomena. Results indicate a high clogging efficiency of the microbial biomass (mainly composed of extracellular polymeric substances) and that a sound description of processes at the pore scale is crucial for the interpretation of bioclogging effects at the larger scale. Furthermore, these studies show that deriving a prediction of clogging effects in two- or three-dimensional flow fields from results obtained for one-dimensional flow field is not straightforward.

Dr. Luc Alberts
Numerical Rocks,Trondheim, Norway
20 January 2009
Building 3D Pore Scale Rock Models from 2D Image Data
Trondheim-based company Numerical Rocks has developed a technology to estimate a range of rock parameters and flow properties from as little data as a thin section. A brief overview of the technology will be given, after which the presentation will focus on the input parameters that are derived from the thin section, and statistics that are used for quality evaluation of the models. Lucas J. van Vliet
Faculty of Applied Sciences, TU Delft
13 January 2009
The art of image processing: How to select your object from a scene and its noise
The Human Visual System (HVS) is very good at recognizing objects in complex scenes. Although many of its secrets have been revealed, it remains hard to accomplish this task by a computer program. Can we learn from the HVS to improve upon today’s systems for image processing, image analysis and image recognition? In this presentation we will present techniques for filtering noisy data, the extraction of objects in complex environments, and the quantification thereof.

Keith Richards
Independent Palynologist and Inst. for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Universteit van Amsterdam
17 December 2008
Palynology…… the study of pollen and similar life forms! ~ applications to geoscience, palaeo-botany, climates and sea level….. case studies from deltas from around the world ~
Palynology is perhaps one of the least known but most varied and applied scientific disciplines. Uses range from geological and botanical research, to anthropological and forensic studies. Pollen from plants is very resistant to decay and is almost always preserved in the sedimentary record, and thus gives a “fingerprint” for stratigraphic research. Other similar “micro-fossils” are often also preserved: these include marine microplankton, lake / freshwater algae, fungal spores, as well as plant debris (kerogen). Studied together, these assemblages can reveal secrets of the sedimentary record and can help to understand cycles of sea level change, climatic variations and plant / vegetation distributions over time. This talk summarises more than 10 years of research into the palynology of deltas around the world. Specific examples are shown, using un-published data from the Amazon, Niger, Nile, Volga, Rhone and Mekong deltas, that illustrate the patterns and style of delta deposition and their associated palaeo-climates and vegetation.

Dr.  Scott Cunningham
Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Policy Analysis Section, TU Delft
25 November 2008
Analysis for Radical Design
A new method for supporting distributed knowledge creation and design is presented. We consider a case of architectural innovation where component technologies are recombined in novel ways. Knowledge bases such as wikipedia -- or other science and technology databases -- serve as a basis for distributed communities to create a consensus about promising new technology architectures. The technique proposed is called probabilistic hierarchical random graphs and has successfully been applied to analyzing other complex network architectures. We demonstrate the technique on an emerging information technology known as AJAX. This presentation was previously presented at the Future Oriented Technology Analysis conference in Seville, this year.

Robyn Fry
CSIRO, Energy Technology, Australie
20 May 2008
CO2 in coal under supercritical conditions
The presentation will give an overview of the work currently being undertaken at the CSIRO Energy Centre at Newcastle, Australia, in relation to Geosequestration and enhanced coal bed methane production. Reliable fundamental data is required on effects of injecting CO2 into coal at temperatures and pressures comparable to those of deep coal seams is required to develop accurate models for predicting the feasibility of CO2 sequestration. The facilities available at the Energy Centre include: a gravimetric isotherm apparatus capable of measuring sorption at pressures up to 20 MPa; an optical system which can directly observe swelling in coal; apparatus for measuring the diffusion and permeability of gas through coal at high pressure. These systems will be discussed and some results of recent research will be presented.

Frank van Bergen
TNO Built Environment and Geosciences, Utrecht
20 May 2008
CO2 storage in coal seams in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin, Poland
Capture of carbon dioxide that is subsequently stored in the underground is considered to be one of the options to reduce the emissions of this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Several storage options, such as storage in aquifers, depleted oil and gas fields, and in underground coal seams, are currently executed. Storage of CO2 in underground coal seams has an additional benefit, because the injected CO2 may enhance the release of the coal bed methane from the internal surface of the coal which can be sold for additional revenues. The involvement of several Dutch organisations in this particular research (TNO, TU Delft, Shell Rijswijk, Utrecht University) has positioned the Netherlands in the forefront of the developments.  

The talk will highlight results of a successful field experiment in the Upper Silesian Coal Basin, Poland, and related laboratory studies. A major issue in the field experiments was the observed decrease in injectivity, which laboratory studies confirmed was attributed to coal swelling. A follow-up EC project aimed at determining the storage performance of the reservoir, i.e. whether the injected CO2 was adsorbed onto the coal or whether it was still present as free gas in the pore space. During the production phase, the gas composition changed gradually from a predominance of CO2 over CH4 into a predominance of CH4 over CO2. Although stabilization was not reached within the production period, the composition approached a 60% methane, 40% CO2 ratio. This indicates that the exchange of these gases is more complex than often envisaged. After removal of the pump the well was filled with water and the reservoir turned back to its original, hydrostatic, state. As the total volume of CO2 produced was only a fraction of the amount that was injected, it can be concluded that the CO2 was taken up by the coal and is currently adsorbed. This gives confidence in the long-term stability of the injected CO2.

Dr. Anke Dählmann
Department of Geotechnology, TU Delft
4 March 2008
Who are the experts? Sustainable Management of Arsenic contamination in rural Bangladesh
Many scientists around the world have dealt with the Arsenic problem in Bangladesh, describing the problem and trying to find technical solutions for Arsenic removal. Technical solutions are twofold: using alternative water sources (e.g. drilling deeper tube wells, rainwater harvesting) and removal of Arsenic from the water recovered with the existing shallow wells. The involvement of TU Delft has led to the foundation of a local NGO, the Arsenic Mitigation and Research Foundation (AMRF) that is tackling the issue on the ground. AMRF trains people not only to control the water quality and to take necessary measures in case of high Arsenic concentrations, but a lot of effort is put into raising the awareness of potentially polluted drinking water from wells. This colloquium gives a short introduction to the Arsenic problem in Bangladesh, shows various technical solutions offered, and explains the way of awareness raising by the NGO and subsequent sustainable management of the implemented technique by the local people. Obviously, the colloquium is built around some (photo)impressions of my travel to Bangladesh in February 2007.

Dr. Silvia Olabarriaga
Academic Medical Center and Informatics Institute, University of Amsterdam
22 January 2008
Data Analysis in (Medical) Imaging
Medical imaging enables the observation of internal structure and function of living bodies. Diverse acquisition modalities generate images that provide valuable information for biomedical research and healthcare, and that display an ever increasing amount and variety of details. Researchers and practitioners are currently confronted with the challenge of efficiently and reliably analyzing data of growing number, size and complexity. This talk will sketch the problems faced in medical imaging and present the (general) approach adopted in the project Virtual Laboratory for e-Sciences.

Prof. dr.tecn. et Signe Kjelstrup
Department of Process and Energy, TU Delft
08 January 2008
How can we better describe coupled heat and mass transfer in natural processes?
The lecture will address a new way to describe coupled heat and mass transfer using examples from nature, more specifically of water transport. The method is an extension of non-equilibrium thermodynamics to deal with transport at surfaces, a method that is the topic of a monograph that soon will appear. In a first example, I examine evaporation of water, to predict the evaporation or condensation rate as a function of pressure and temperature. In a second example I consider what happens when undercooled water is transported in capillaries of clay materials (in frost heave). Large pressure differences can then build.

Dr. Tanja Zegers
Universiteit Utrecht/SRON/ESTEC
11 December 2007
Solar System Exploration: Tools and Strategy
With highly successful European planetary missions such as Mars Express, and Venus Express, Europe is now actively taking part in the global efforts in the exploration of our solar system. For the next decade several planetary missions are being prepared by ESA: to Mercury (Bepi Colombo) to a comet (Rosetta) and a lander to Mars (ExoMars). Mars features highly in the plans for the next decades, because the latest information from current missions clearly indicate that  habitable conditions existed for extended periods of time in the past, and may even locally exist today. I will focus on the activities related to exploration of Mars. I will discuss the process by which planetary missions are developed, the role of scientific instruments on current missions, and how some of these instruments provided paradigm shifting data. Future missions to Mars (and the Moon) will change from missions focussed on achieving technological and scientific results, to missions with real, and often specific exploration goals: Is, or was there ever life on Mars? What natural resources are available to support human habitation ? Is there water (ice) in the sub-surface? How can we collect the best possible sample from Mars to return to Earth? Future planetary missions will need the expertise from the community currently involved in Earth exploration to develop the tools and strategies best suited for exploration, either by robotic means, or eventually by human missions to the Moon and Mars.

Dr. Matthias Haeckel
IFM-GEOMAR, Kiel, Germany
27 November 2007
Gas hydrates in the marine environment - from cold seeps to marine CO2 sequestration
Marine gas hydrate deposits are formed in sediments at continental margins with high methane production from organic matter degradation or methane fluxes from deeper sources. Typical seafloor expressions of high methane fluxes and associated hydrate deposits are cold seep systems and mud volcanoes. Numerical transport-reaction modelling of porewater data allows to quantify the rates of hydrate formation and methane turnover in these systems and to constrain the underlying processes. One viable approach is based on porewater chloride anomalies that result from salt exclusion during hydrate formation. In a second example, a novel rate law for methane production from organic matter is presented and validated with existing data sets. In recently started and future projects in our group we are going to extend our knowledge on hydrates and biogeochemical processes in the marine environment to questions related to marine CO2 sequestration. The projects aim to investigate and assess two potential strategies for storing CO2 below the seafloor: (a) as immobile solid gas hydrates in sediments below water depths of ~400 m at low temperatures and (b) as a dense and gravitationally stable liquid in deep sediment strata in water depths deeper than ~3000 m.

Prof. dr. Marcel Stive
Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, TU Delft
13 November 2007
Impacts of Global Environmental Change on Coasts
Impacts of global environmental change (climate, sea level and water and land use changes) on the geomorphology of coasts will modify coastal behaviour at local, regional and landscape scales as evident from the geological and historical record. These modifications may mean accelerations in rates of coastal change, reversals in historical trends, or initiation of new modes of coastal behaviour. Prediction of accelerations may draw on historical data to extrapolate future trends in some settings. Trend reversals and mode changes, however, will require sufficient understanding of coastal morphodynamics to allow predictions of future change from the combined application of historical geomorphologic data and morphodynamic models.

Mr. Philip van Dorp
TNO Defense, Security and Safety
3 July 2007
Across the Wall Radar
Across the wall Radars became a common component of environment monitoring systems. They have properties not present in other sensors such as insensitive to dark and light, penetrate through common materials, and their transmitted signal is not visible. A Through The Wall radar is an example. A disadvantage of radar is that it transmits electromagnetic energy and that the measurements cannot be directly visualized like an electro-optical sensor. One way to visualize radar measurements is by showing them as a 3D scene in a virtual environment. For the human observer, this requires the estimation of human motion features to animate a person. Detailed processing of the radar measurements gives range and radial velocity as a function of time of the person. These are used to visualize the scene in virtual reality. Real-time estimation of the human posture is an essential aspect in security application for proper countermeasures.

Prof.dr. Olaf Schuiling
Faculty of Geoscineces, Universiteit Utrecht
19 June 2007
Geochemical CO2 sequestration  - to save the world (in case the world needs any saving)
Outside the group of earth scientists it is rarely realized that chemical weathering is the major pathway by which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere. Enhanced weathering increases the rate of removal. This can be achieved by mining and crushing large quantities of olivine, and spreading the olivine powder over the land surface, or in the high energy zone of coastal waters. Point sources of CO2, like coal power plants can be treated by leading CO2 and steam through a large volume of crushed olivine. The reaction is slow, but produces a large amount of heat, which can be recovered if the olivine is contained in a large isolating rock volume, like abandoned open pit mines. Increasing the oceanic biomass by adding the lacking macronutrients, mainly phosphate, is another way of CO2-sequestration. Four proposals along these lines have been submitted to Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge for the best idea to remove 1 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Dr. Radboud Koop
SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research
5 June 2007
Gradiometers in Space Missions
The evolution and internal structure of planets and moons in our Solar System are key parameters in scientific studies of comparative planetology. Detailed knowledge on planets and moons can be obtained from in-situ observations from planetary spacecraft carrying suites of dedicated remote sensing instruments. The interior of planetary objects is usually not directly observable since measurements from seismic networks are difficult to obtain for obvious reasons. The gravity field of these bodies, however, can be measured externally from fly-by’s or orbiting spacecraft and does provide information on the interior structure and evolution of the object. Typically, gravity field measurements are used to constrain planetophysical models of the interior and evolution. While gravity field information of a planet or moon can be obtained by tracking the trajectory of the spacecraft that flies in the neighborhood of the object, much more detailed (small spatial scales) information can be obtained by flying a so-called gravity gradiometer in a low-altitude orbit around the body. An Earth-orbiting satellite gradiometer will for the first time be launched early 2008, but planetary gradiometers have still to be developed. Instruments on planetary spacecraft have to fulfill many strong requirements of compactness, weight and power consumption. To this end, the development of a micro-gradiometer (small, light, low power) for planetary exploration has started in the Netherlands in a cooperation between SRON and UT/MESA+. The instrument will be based on MEMS (Micro Electrical Mechanical System) technology, with dedicated high-performance and miniaturized read-out electronics based on mixed-signal ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits). In the presentation the principles of gravity field determination, gradiometry and planetary science will be treated as well as the design and application of micro-gradiometers.

Dr. Leon Kester
TNO Defense, Security, and Safety
22 May 2007
Intelligent Sensor Networks
Technological developments in communication, computing and nanotechnology are expected to continue for several decades. In combination with maturing technology in the field of artificial intelligence it is expected that intelligent sensor networks, also known as ‘smart dust’, will become a common phenomenon in future society. Important applications are projected in the field of traffic management, safety, security, health care, water management and energy. In this colloquium the technological developments and it implications will be briefly analyzed and some application will be discussed. The main part of the presentation will be on concepts for intelligent sensor networks itself and areas of research that will enable the sensor networks to become ‘intelligent’.

Dr. Erik Schlangen
Microlab, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geotechnology, TU Delft
8 May 2007
Self Healing Of Cracks In Concrete - Different Mechanisms And Solutions
Crack widths in concrete structures should be limited, mainly for durability reasons. If crack widths are too large the cracks need to be repaired or extra reinforcement is needed already in the design. If a method could be developed to automatically repair cracks in concrete this would save an enormous amount of money, both on the costs of injection fluids for cracks and also on the extra steel that is put in structures only to limit crack widths. For structural reasons this extra steel has no meaning. A reliable self healing method for concrete would lead to a new way of designing durable concrete structures which is beneficial for the global economy. Different mechanisms for self healing of concrete will be presented. The first one focuses on the self healing which is the result of further hydration of the still un-reacted cement particles in the concrete. Another way to achieve self healing is by “Bacterial Concrete”. Recent studies have shown that bacteria exist that are able to constantly precipitate calcite and in such a way can heal cracks. Other mechanisms with wood fibres and induced carbonation are currently under investigation. In the seminar it will be explained how to produce these special concretes, but also the self healing capacity of the concrete with respect to both crack closure and regaining of mechanical properties will be discussed. Huib de Vriend
WL | Delft Hydraulics
24 April 2007
Building with Nature
Large infrastructural projects are being seriously hampered by strict and complex environmental regulations. This even leads to a worldwide decrease of the market for this kind of projects. On the other hand, there is a strong feeling that the existing regulations are not entirely realistic and sometimes unnecessarily restrictive. This explains why the major dredging firms in our country, Boskalis and Van Oord, have decided to set up a multi-million Euro research programme entitled Building with Nature. It aims at achieving a fundamentally different way of looking at infrastructural works: starting from the dynamics of the natural system and the opportunities it offers, instead of the project itself and the attempts to minimise its environmental impact. The consortium carrying out this programme consists of parties from private industry, governmental institutions, knowledge institutes and universities (among which TUDelft). In the presentation, the programme will be described in further detail, hoping to raise a discussion on how geosciences can contribute.