Drilling began last week at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology for the first shale samples to be analysed in a range of advanced laboratory tests that could ultimately lead to enhanced energy production, carbon dioxide sequestration, underground hydrocarbon storage and waste disposal.

The drilling in Fort Pierre is expected to be completed this week. Scientists and engineers will analyze what could be more than 3,000 pounds of shale samples in various laboratories throughout the campus and its partner RESPEC, a national engineering consulting company based in Rapid City.

It is the first of two shale core drillings that will be conducted this summer.

Drilling in Fort Pierre is being conducted by a private company at the direction of William Roggenthen, Ph.D., Mines research scientist, and Lance Roberts, Ph.D., head of the Department of Mining Engineering & Management. A number of faculty and student researchers have been on site preparing samples for laboratory examination as shale cores have been removed from the ground at 5-foot intervals to an expected total depth of 600 feet.

The Shale Research Initiative was formally announced in April after the state of South Dakota approved $464,000 for the research program. The university and RESPEC have been partnering on the project since 2012, when the Department of Energy and Sandia National Laboratory funded an initial $150,000 for a preliminary examination.

Ultimately, research findings will be applicable for multiple industries where understanding the characteristics and behavior of shale and other fine-grained geological units is critical. Additionally, initial work includes geo-mechanical analyses to assess the feasibility of what would be the nation’s first underground shale research laboratory.

Source: Mining Innovation News - see full article