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Digital Rock Helps Scientists understand Porous DNA

As with many fields, computing is changing how geologists conduct their research. One example: the emergence of digital rock physics, where tiny fragments of rock are scanned at high resolution, their 3-D structures are reconstructed, and this data is used as the basis for virtual simulations and experiments. Digital rock physics complements the laboratory and field work that geologists, petroleum engineers, hydrologists, environmental scientists, and others traditionally rely on. In specific cases, it provides important insights into the interaction of porous rocks and the fluids that flow through them that would be impossible to glean in the lab. In 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) a two-year, $600,000 grant to build the Digital Rocks Portal where researchers can store, share, organize and analyze the structures of porous media, using the latest technologies in data management and computation. "The project lets researchers organize and preserve images and related experimental measurements of different porous materials," said Maša Prodanović, associate professor of petroleum and geosystems engineering at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). "It improves access to them for a wider geosciences and engineering community and thus enables scientific inquiry and engineering decisions founded on a data-driven basis." Learn more at

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