Lawrence M Cathles, III
After completing doctoral research on the viscosity of the earth's mantle at Princeton, Cathles spent seven years at Kennecott Copper Corporation's Ledgemont Laboratory where he investigated the genesis of porphyry copper deposits and industrial leaching processes. In 1978 he joined the faculty of The Pennsylvania State University where he carried out research on the formation of massive sulfide deposits at mid-ocean ridges and in failed rifts in Japan. In 1982 he joined the Chevron Oil Field Research Laboratory where he developed genetic and exploration models for gold and sulfide deposits and investigated the CO2 generation that often attends steam injection for enhanced oil recovery. He joined the Cornell faculty in 1987, carried out research on oil and gas generation and migration in the Gulf of Mexico Basin, co-directed an industrial associates program, and developed models that simulate the chemical alteration caused by the movements of water in the subsurface. He was the 24th Hugh Exton McKinstry Memorial Lecturer (1989) at Harvard, the 2008 Adrian Smith Lecturer at the University of Waterloo, The Distinguished Lecturer for the Society of Economic Geologists in 2011, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published over 110 peer-reviewed publications and a book: "The Viscosity of the Earth's Mantle". Presently he is a co-leader of the oil and gas thrust of the Cornell KAUST program and Director of the Cornell Institute for the Study of the Continents.
My current research objectives are threefold: (1) To construct higher resolution models of the earth's response to the melting of the continental ice masses of the last glaciations, (2) to integrate chemistry into simple heat and mass transfer models of aqueous fluid flow in the earth's crust to understand the fundamental constraints (if any) on supplying in perpetuity 10.5 billion with the energy and mineral resources required for a European standard of living, and (3) to develop a methodology for using nanoparticles as non-diffusing tracers that can measure fluid bypass and enable new fluid management strategies. The higher resolution isostatic adjustment models will allow recent changes in the recent rate of sea level rise to be interpreted more broadly and confidently while at the same time better constraining mantle viscosity, one of the most fundamental earth parameters. Integrating chemistry and fluid flow provides a fundamental basis for understanding hydrocarbon and mineral resources, and also for understanding chemical changes that attend some extraction methods and carbon sequestration strategies. Measuring fluid bypass with nanoparticles, if successful, could lead to entirely new methods of detecting and managing subsurface fluid flow.
EAS 4010/5010 Energy and Mineral Resources of the Earth, Fall
EAS 7970 Multiphase subsurface fluid flow and geochemical modeling, with Lou Derry, Spring
CHEME 6665 Geological carbon sequestration, two lectures plus attendance, Spring
CHEME 6666 Unconventional natural gas development from shale formations, two lectures plus attendance, Spring.
EAS/BEE 4710 Introduction to ground water hydrology; Spring alternate years with Walter and Steenhuis
EAS 7990/BEE 7710 Hydrology Seminar
EAS 5050 Fluid dynamics in the earth sciences; Spring alternate years with Mark Wysocki
Service to the community in the recent past has involved helping homeowners in the Ithaca community whose houses were potentially affected by industrial TCE contamination on South Hill understand contaminant transport. Class projects on this topic benefited from extensive community participation and the students in turn provided significant assistance to the community. My current community service involves mainly helping community members understand energy tradeoffs and water and contamination issues potentially related to Marcellus shale gas production. A community member attended my Energy and Mineral Resources class and we collaborated to make relevant material available to the local community. On the national level I am seeking to help the resource community appreciate that the earth has the resources to support the world population at a European standard of living indefinitely.
- 2012. "A commentary on "The greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas in shale formations" by R.W. Howarth, R. Santoro, and Anthony Ingraffea." Climatic Change 113 (2): 525-535. .
- 2011. "What processes at mid-ocean ridges tell us about volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits." Mineralium Deposita 46 (5): 639-657. .
- 2010. "A Path Forward." SEG Newsletter 83: 18-20. .
- 2010. "The physics of gas chimney and pockmark formation, with implications for assessment of seafloor hazards and gas sequestration." Marine and Petroleum Geology 27 (1): 82-91. .
- 1975. The Viscosity of the Earth's Mantle. : 386. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. .
Selected Awards and Honors
- 2011 Society Economic Geologists Distinguished Lecturer (Society of Economic Geologists) 2010
- Adrian Smith Lecturer (University of Waterloo) 2008
- 24th Hugh Exton McKinstry Memorial Lecturer (Harvard University) 1989
- Fellow (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 1987
- Plenary Speaker (Goldschmidt Conference, Montreal) 2012
- BA (GEOPHYSICS & SEISMOLOGY), PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, 1965
- Ph D (GEOPHYSICS & SEISMOLOGY), PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, 1968