Tim Bechtel, Ph.D.,P.G. grew up on the Rockdale Run Formation, with a sinkhole in the backyard of his boyhood home. He has a B.Sc. from Haverford College (where he majored in geology at Bryn Mawr College), and an M.Sc. in Rock Mechanics and a Ph.D. in Geophysics (focusing on gravity) from Brown University. The Fortran code Tim developed for calculating lithospheric loading and strength from the coherence of gravity and topography data was later developed by Dr. Anthony Lowry of Utah State University into the MECAIR (Maximum Entropy Coherence Analysis of Isostatic Response) package used by several dozen researchers throughout the world, and figuring prominently in the dissertations of at least 10 young scientists.
Following several years working as a geophysicist for firms in Boston, MA and Harrisburg, PA, Tim was a founding principal (in 1992) of Enviroscan, Inc. – performing geophysical investigations and geophysical logging all over the world for environmental, hydrogeological, geotechnical, archaeological, and law enforcement investigations. Tim is a guest editor for geophysical submissions to Hydrogeology Journal, and co-author of the international textbook Methods in Karst Hydrogeology. He is a member of international scientific collaborations that are funded by NATO and the US-Russia-Japan-EU International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) to study novel technologies for humanitarian de-mining, remote detection of disaster victims buried beneath rubble, avalanches, etc., and non-destructive subsurface testing for historic and cultural preservation.
The application of Geophysical investigation techniques to problems of the earth's planetary structure, local subsurface structure and mineral prospecting; the principles of geophysical measurements and interpretation with emphasis on gravity measurement, isostasy, geomagnetism, seismic refraction and reflection, electrical prospecting, electromagnetics and ground radar.
Geometric human population growth drives similarly increasing demands for water, living space, transportation, and resources. Mega-scale civil engineering projects have moved from the pages of science fiction, to the pages of peer-reviewed scientific journals, and in some cases onto blueprints and then reality. Examples of actual works include Boston’s “Big Dig,” the Palm Islands of Dubai, the re-routing of the Yangtze River from the South to the North of China through aqueducts beneath the Tibetan Plateau. Projects under consideration include seeding Earth’s upper atmosphere with particulates, launching arrays of mirrors, or enriching Arctic seas with iron to alter Earth’s climate. Not much more far-fetched are ideas about “terraforming” or changing the fundamental cycles on celestial bodies to make them habitable, or mining the Moon for Helium 3. These ideas may seem impossible but (as exemplified by a recent article in Geophysical Research Letters that convincingly demonstrated that the worldwide construction of dams at mid-latitudes has actually changed Earth’s rotation rate) geoscientists are realizing that human activities have had mega-scale consequences, and that this human power to alter the planet could be harnessed to better the human condition. In fact, human civil works beyond what was thought possible are relatively common in history: the quarrying and transportation of the slabs that comprise Stonehenge, the Tunnel of Samos, the Nazca Lines, the Panama Canal, etc. This seminar course will involve reading about and discussing the geotechnical issues that were, are, and will be faced in the implementation of such massive works. The course will be evenly divided between examining historical examples and their consequences (both intended and unintended), and evaluating the feasibility, and anticipating unintended consequences of, some current not-yet-realized Geo-Engineering ideas.
- GEOL 641 The History, Geology, and Geotechnology of the Marcellus Shale and Other Unconventional Oil and Gas Resources
Relatively new horizontal drilling techniques, combined with much older hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), have recently made possible the profitable recovery of natural gas and oil from low-permeability formations, fundamentally changing the international geopolitics of energy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has called the emergence of these unconventional plays a “game changer.” Geoscientists will require a complete and accurate knowledge of the occurrence, importance, and exploitation of these plays for several reasons: 1) The unconventional petroleum industry will be a significant source of employment; 2) The development of these plays involves a very public and contentious discussion, often with poorly informed or biased participants, and it will be the responsibility of geoscientists to ensure that policy decisions are made based on actual science. This course will not be about policy, but will endeavor to provide a factual understanding of unconventional petroleum resources and recovery that can inform both sides of the political/social debates. The course will include enough review of important geologic topics (plate tectonics, stratigraphy, geochemistry, rock mechanics, etc.) to allow enrollment by students not just from geology, but from environmental studies or engineering and other allied disciplines.
This course focuses on the rock mechanics aspects of Engineering Geology. The theme is characterization of the geologic environment for engineering and environmental investigations. Covered are the various exploration tools and methods, including: Collection and analysis of existing engineering data; Interpretation of remotely sensed imagery; Field and laboratory measurements of material properties; Measurement and characterization of rock discontinuities; Rock slope stability analysis; Stress, strain and failure of rocks and the importance of scale; Rock core logging; Rock mass rating; Rock support and reinforcement; Rock excavation, blasting and blast monitoring and control.