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SwRI software simplifies fault analysis for geoscientists and petroleum engineers

San Antonio, Texas -- August 31, 1998 -- 3DStress™, a software tool that rapidly and cost-effectively evaluates the tendencies of geologic faults to move and dilate, has been selected for a 1998 R&D 100 Award.

The program, developed by scientists at the Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses (CNWRA) at Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) with funding from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is being used to analyze the behavior of faults and the resulting potential for earthquakes in the vicinity of the proposed high level nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

"The software, however, has proved to have useful applications in oil and gas exploration and production, as well as in hydrology," says SwRI Senior Research Scientist and project manager, Dr. David Ferrill. "For example, geologists and petroleum engineers can use the program to determine the risk of leakage from hydrocarbon traps or to evaluate migration pathways in structurally complex settings such as the Los Angeles Basin, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Niger Delta."

Previously, the lengthy calculations needed to evaluate potential fault problems at a site were carried out manually, one fault at a time, or more frequently were ignored. Using 3Dstress™, calculations are processed for multiple selected faults and displayed simultaneously to the user by means of stereographic projections and three-dimensional models.

"This is a novel way of viewing three-dimensional stress that allows geoscientists to ask what-if questions and get rapid answers," says co-developer Dr. Alan Morris, SwRI consultant and associate professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. "We have just completed version 1.3 of the program. The new version incorporates a database of rock strengths and the ability to model fluid pressures within the earth's crust."

For further technical information, access Southwest Research Institute <http://www.swri.org> on the Internet or call Ferrill at (210) 522-6082. Commercial licensing of the program is handled by Midland Valley Exploration of Glasgow, Scotland, the United Kingdom.

For more information about 3DStress™, contact Joe Fohn, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas, 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-4630, Fax (210) 522-3547.

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