Using qualitative modelling, the risk of earthquakes due to gas extraction can be determined more clearly. “This is done by using three dimensional modelling software to calculate and simulate the forces and movements around geological faults deep under the ground,” says Frans Mulders who, on 3 December, will defend his PhD thesis at TU Delft. “Currently, the KNMI determines the probability of earthquakes primarily through statistical data,” says Mulders. “It is important to complement that data with knowledge of the geological structure underground.” Mulder conducted his research in cooperation with TNO-NITG, NAM, Shell, KNMI and State Supervision of Mines.
In recent months, three light earthquakes hit the province of Groningen. Geologists agree that the quakes are related to gas extraction. It is possible to use historical statistical data of these kind events to make a prediction for the future. “That is what the KNMI (national research and information centre for climate, climatic change and seismology) is currently doing,” says Mulders. “Valuable data, but combining this with knowledge of underground the geological structure is worth recommendation. This is currently being worked on at TNO-NITG in cooperation with KNMI.”
Mulders used three dimensional (3D) simulations to research activity deep under the ground. He has integrated so-called Mobilised Shear Capacity (MSC) parameters into his models. This parameter provides a numerical value for the instability of certain layers and the faults they contain. Mulders: “Such a parameter, linked to other data, forms a basis for the calculation of the probability of earthquakes near gas fields.” According to Mulder, earthquakes will continue to happen every now and then in Groningen. “As long as gas is extracted, there will be movement in the ground.”
Maarten van der Sanden | alfa
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Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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