SMU Geothermal Lab

SMU Geothermal Laboratory

Click here for information on our 2015 Conference 
Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields.

The SMU Geothermal Lab was established in 1970 by Dr. David Blackwell. We are an active research facility, with a variety of ongoing geothermal resource projects. Our faculty, staff, and students strive to broaden the understanding and use of geothermal energy, from the simplest form - geothermal heat pumps for buildings, to the large-scale deployment of geothermal power plants providing energy for our cities. Our research also explores opportunities to integrate renewable geothermal projects in an oil & gas setting.

Our expertise includes:
  • Academic research by faculty, staff, and students;
  • Data integration into Geothermal Maps such as the Geothermal Map of North America;
  • Research projects, such as the National Geothermal Data System, the Enhanced Geothermal Potential of the Cascades, the Geothermal Synthesis of Dixie Valley, Nevada, the ability to use temperature logs for climate change; and the stability of methane hydrates along continental shelves;
  • Well logging with high precision Temperature-Depth measurements 
  • Sample analysis of Thermal Conductivity measurement for commercial clients;
The Lab assists the public through:
  • Hosting of a Geothermal Energy Utilization conference;
  • Teacher and student educational classroom materials;
  • A monthly newsletter on the geothermal, oil/gas, and energy industries, along with general information for the public on events, funding, and research opportunities;
  • News articles and press releases;
  • Suggested publications and papers for those interested in learning more. 
Mailing Address (US Postal Service)
SMU Geothermal Laboratory
Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences
P.O. Box 750395
Dallas, TX 75275-0395

Shipping Address
SMU Geothermal Laboratory
Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences
3225 Daniel Avenue
Heroy Hall Room 235
Dallas, TX 75205

Click here for maps and directions.  

Phone: 214-768-2749
Fax: 214-768-2701


Maria Richards, Geothermal Lab Coordinator


Dr. Matthew Hornbach, Associate Professor 

Dr. Dave Blackwell, Professor Emeritus 


Maria Richards, Geothermal Lab Coordinator 

Cathy Chickering, Project Specialist

Graduate Students 

Zach Frone

  • Ph.D. Candidate in Geophysics
  • Zachary Frone is a Ph.D. candidate in Geophysics in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences at Southern Methodist University (SMU), where he studies under Dr. David Blackwell. During his time at SMU he worked on various projects related to heat flow and geothermal exploration. In 2011, along with others in the Geothermal Laboratory, he completed a national level heat flow mapping project that incorporated tens of 1000s of new heat flow values from oil and gas wells. The focus of his research is on heat flow modeling of the Appalachian Basin in West Virginia and modeling the temperature effects of repeated magmatic intrusions beneath Newberry Volcano in Central Oregon. Zach received his Bachelors of Science degree in Geology from Binghamton University in New York.

Andrés Ruzo

  • Ph.D. Candidate in Geophysics
  • Andrés Ruzo holds degrees from SMU in Geology (BSc) and Finance (BBA), and is currently working on a PhD in Geophysics. He has a wide range of research interests including heat flow, geophysics, volcanology, geothermal system geochemistry, as well as geothermal extremophile life forms. Andrés is passionate about developing geothermal resources in Latin America, and his PhD research has primarily focused on developing the Geothermal Map of Peru, understanding the Peruvian Volcanic Gap, and most notably investigating the Boiling River of the Amazon, a sacred indigenous site that Andrés first heard of in a childhood legend. Andrés is also deeply involved in science communication and the promotion of geothermal and science education. He is a National Geographic Explorer, has been featured in the National Geographic Magazine, numerous educational publications, and was featured on international television as the BMW Explorer for his outreach work on geothermal energy.  His research has earned him grants, recognitions, and support, from a number of groups including the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Telios Corporation, Greenpeace, and others. He has also spoken at 3 TEDx events, and will be presenting part of his dissertation research on the Boiling River of the Amazon at TED Global 2014.

Nicole Sica

  • Masters Candidate in Geophysics
  • Nicole Sica graduated from University of Texas at Dallas and is currently working on a Masters degree. She is interested in geothermal energy for the bridge that it creates with the Oil and Gas industries as a means to transition to a clean, continual alternative energy resource. Nicole was attracted to SMU’s connections to both industry and academia.

Joe Batir

Benjamin Phrampus

  • Ph.D. Candidate in Geophysics
  • Benjamin Phrampus has a Bachelor's of Science in Geophysics from Baylor University and is now a PhD candidate at Southern Methodist University. His particular area of focus is on utilizing high-resolution 2D and 3D seismic data to create heat and fluid flow models in understand the evolution and dissociation of gas hydrates along global continental margins. Additional analyses include pore pressure evolution and flow, slope stability analysis, and hydrate dynamics.

Casey Brokaw

  • Masters Candidate in Geophysics
  • Casey Brokaw has a Bachelor’s of Science in Geology from SMU and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Geophysics from Southern Methodist University. His Master’s research is in the thermal maturation processes of the oil and gas producing Denver Basin. Research interests are understanding geothermal processes and how they can be applied to help tackle America’s energy demands.

Mert Bolat

Ann Moulding

  • Ph.D. Candidate in Geophysics at University of Texas, Dallas

The SMU Geothermal Lab gratefully accepts donations.  To donate, visit the Support Dedman College page, and select the SMU Geothermal Lab (21247) from the pull-down menu of funds. 

Donations support our graduate student research and our community outreach.

Give Cathy Chickering Pace (214-768-1510) or Maria Richards (214-768-1975) a call for more information.

Thank you!