SMU Geothermal Lab

SMU Geothermal Laboratory

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. The goal of the SMU Geothermal Lab faculty, staff, and students is 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 connects us with the oil and gas industry and through it we assist in integrating the cross-over of technologies between the geothermal and oil and gas industries.

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

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
  • Zach Frone has a Bachelor’s of Science in Geology from the State University of New York at Binghamton and is now a PhD student in SMU’s Geothermal Lab. He is focusing on the EGS potential in the Eastern U.S. and on volcanic EGS systems. Zach is also interested in the potential for small-scale geothermal power applications in developing areas of the world.

Andrés Ruzo

  • Ph.D. Candidate in Geophysics
  • Andrés Ruzo is a Geophysics Ph.D. Candidate at Southern Methodist University. His particular area of focus is developing geothermal fields and technologies throughout the Americas, specifically in Texas, Nicaragua, and Peru.  Andrés was drawn to attend graduate school at SMU because of the numerous opportunities to do research all over the world.

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