Geography department receives software grant

Mackenzie Mathews

The Department of Geography and Geology recently received $3.7 million from United Kingdom-based Midland Valley Exploration Ltd. to go towards the MOVE software grant.

“This is academic initiative software to support future generations of geoscientists,” geology professor Nahid Gani said.

Geologists made the software in order to study underground movements. Its various capabilities will be beneficial to geoscience students and faculty. Research outcomes can be taken from the software and applied to the classroom, giving students particular geological scenarios to learn from.

Students have familiarized themselves with the software, and several have used it to conduct research.

“It’s cutting edge technology,” Stanville graduate student Nathaniel Blackburn said. “It will help us to visualize some of the geology processes that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

Blackburn has been using the software to map faults in Kentucky and to build a model of tectonic activity in Eastern Africa. The models make the information easily interpreted through simulations rather than explanations.

Students will learn innovative ways to collect data that do not require extensive work on location. The software offers a lab setting that simply provides data in the classroom.

“The software can be utilized by any of the faculty and to educate our students for job searching,” Gani said. “It will prepare them for competitive jobs in different commercial companies.”

Several parts of the software include modeling seismic data, satellite data or GPA field-based data. The varying settings allow geologists to study any region at any time period to better understand how faults and fractures were formed.

As a structural geologist, Gani studies different physical forms on Earth and how they were formed and deformed. This field can work with petroleum geology in deciding where to drill for the resource. With the software, the two specialties can be combined.

The university has unlimited use of the software, which will be useful to students in their career preparations.

“A lot of big companies are using it for various applications in geological modeling,” Blackburn said. “With a lot of these jobs, we might be presenting what we’ve researched, and that’s a lot easier for us to show these companies if we can make a nice model.”