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  • Shell Center for Sustainability
  • Shell Center for Sustainability
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The Shell Center for Sustainability's mission is to foster an interdisciplinary program of research, outreach, and education to address actions that can be taken to ensure the sustainable development of communities' living standards, interpreted broadly, to encompass all factors affecting the overall quality of life.

Dr. Brandon Dugan

Former Associate Professor
Department Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences
Wiess School of Natural Sciences
Rice University

funded_faculty_icon_smallSCS Project

Dr. Dugan's research focus is on the hydrodynamics of the shallow crust (0-5 km). Through observation, theory, and experimentation, he studies the interaction of subsurface flow, sediment deformation, and slope failure. Dr. Dugan is particularly interested in how physical properties (e.g., porosity, permeability, compressibility) vary in response to stress perturbations and fluid content (water and hydrocarbon), and how these properties influence sediment strength. It is important to understand these processes to describe fluid/sediment dynamics in the shallow subsurface, to define the conditions of sediments that are eventually buried deeper, and to understand the nature of sediments involved in submarine slope failures. The results are applicable to understanding the hydrodynamic processes in accretionary prisms, gas hydrate provinces, and terrestrial environments. Dr. Dugan uses numerical models to describe interaction of geology and fluids as basins and flow systems evolve. Currently he is using models to understand the generation of overpressure, fluid flow processes, and sediment stability along passive continental margins. The research documents that passive margins are active and exciting centers for coupled geological processes such as faulting, slope failure, and shallow hydrogeologic flow systems. At the experimental level, his research is two-tiered. Dr. Dugan performs deformation experiments on natural and reconstituted samples to evaluate in situ conditions and physical behavior of sediments over a wide range of stresses and temperatures. He characterizes the effects of mineralogy, grain size, fluid content, and phase changes (e.g. free gas becoming gas hydrate) on poro-elastic and flow behaviors of porous media. He also hopes to develop scaled experimental sedimentation models to observe active fluid flow and deformation processes. These models will provide a rare opportunity to observe and measure phenomena that often are not observed in nature, such as the conditions just prior to a submarine slope failure.

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