Geology and Geological Engineering

Daniel J. Soeder
Energy Resources Initiative
Research Teaching People News & Links Publications CV

Daniel J. Soeder

B.S. (1976) Cleveland State University (Ohio)
M.S. (1978) Bowling Green State University (Ohio)
Director, Energy Resources Initiative
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
Rapid City, SD 57701

Summary stats:
h-index: 22.62

Research Philosophy

It took 30 years for my 1980s research on shale gas and other unconventional resources to become relevant. I spent the interim working on groundwater hydrology and environmental research, but once the technology caught up with shale gas, I got back into it. Now I'm looking at environmental risks of unconventional oil and gas development, and investigating the interesting movement of fluids through shale.

Energy research is becoming increasing multi-disciplinary. Although focused on geological sources of energy, such as petroleum, natural gas, and geothermal, the Energy Resources Initiative at SD Mines seeks to coordinate ongoing energy-related research with different departments across campus and improve collaboration with other institutions. One of the main goals is to develop research projects relevant to industry to engage students in addressing real-world issues. Our vision is a world-class energy research program that will solve important problems while providing students with practical experience.

Some projects under development are described below:

Research Program

  • Stranded Gas (2018)
    Natural gas requires a pipeline system to efficiently move it to markets. In the absence of a pipeline, gas is either not produced, or if produced with oil, it is typically flared off. This multidisciplinary project seeks to find beneficial uses for natural gas on a drill site, using fuel cells or generators to make electricity if there are power lines nearby, or converting gas to liquids like methanol or solids like plastic polymers that can be removed by truck.

  • Optimization of Fossil Fuel and Geothermal Resources by Indigenous Development (OFFGRID) (2018)
    Isolated, rural and tribal communities in South Dakota typically import energy like propane or fuel oil from great distances. Yet many of these communities have shallow natural gas or moderate-temperature geothermal resources under their feet. This project seeks to assess the resource, and design engineering technology to economically recover and utilize the energy.

  • Bakken Environmental Access Research Site (BEARS) (2017-2023)
    This is envisioned as a multi-year environmental monitoring project on Bakken shale oil development in North Dakota. After collecting a year of baseline data at a site prior to drilling, monitoring will be carried out during the drilling, stimulation, and production phases of multiple Bakken wells on a single pad. Deep and shallow monitoring, along with the use of sensitive geochemical tracers and advanced geophysical technology is expected to help define the actual environmental impacts from the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of unconventional resources.

  • Petrophysical Engineering and Research Laboratory (PEARL) (2018)
    A high-precision petrophysics laboratory is under design at SD Mines to enable researchers to study the movement of liquids and gases through both conventional and unconventional reservoir rock types under pressures and flow gradients representative of subsurface conditions. The reaction of these rocks to increases in net stress, hysteresis during stress cycling, and the ability of fluids like water or supercritical carbon dioxide to help manage pressures and enhance hydrocarbon recovery will be investigated. The lab will also be used to characterize unconventional reservoir rocks in term of pore size distribution, pore geometry, and the relationships between geologic properties and pore structure.
    Latest update: November 2017
  • The J1 and J2 joint systems in the Marcellus Shale, Oatka Creek, Leroy, NY 2016.

    Sediment study at Dalecarlia Reservoir, Washington, D.C. 2005.

    Niobrara Formation outcrop at Slim Butte, Oglala Lakota County, SD 2013.
    SDSM&T, Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, 501 E. Saint Joseph St., Rapid City, SD 57701
    phone: (605)394-2802 / fax: (605)394-6703 / email: