February 26, 2021

Team Profile:
Laura Seelig

photo credit:
Laura Seelig

1. Why are you involved in geothermal/supercritical research?

I have always been invested in trying to reduce the impact I have on the environment, and until now this has only been on a personal scale.  Being part of this project offers me the opportunity to conduct scientific research in a field I am passionate about, whilst allowing me to contribute to the solution to the world’s ever-growing demand for energy.  

As a global population, we are too heavily dependent on finite energy resources. Therefore, it is crucial to develop and utilise sustainable energy resources, such as geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is already used in NewZealand, as well as lots of other locations globally. Therefore, further research into better understanding the geothermal system and geothermal energy production is of great importance for its continued development.

The supercritical research that GNG is undertaking may help to provide a sustainable alternative for New Zealand’s energy demand. Not only this, but it will aim to answer some fundamental questions about geothermal exploration and geothermal systems which will be applicable worldwide.

2. What is the favourite part of your work?

I have only just started my journey into understanding the geothermal system, so it is hard to pick a favourite. However, what I enjoy most about science in general is unravelling puzzles; piecing together all the evidence you have found to gain a much better understanding of the overall larger picture. I am looking forward to applying lots of different analytical techniques to plutonic rocks and combining all the small-scale evidence to understand more about the geothermal and magmatic systems.    

3. Please share the publication you’re most proud of

I have only just started my PhD and don’t yet have any publications, so my master’s thesis would be the piece of work which I am most proud of.  My thesis studied the effects of climate and tectonics on river morphology in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.

What was the research finding?

Within this project, I analysed the effectiveness of previous methods of classifying river morphology and then created a way to classify a continuum of river patterns using only river planform – something which had never been done before. This showed that there were two distinct river morphology distributions within theHimalayas and Tibetan Plateau, reflecting the different climatic and tectonic settings between the plateau interior and the plateau margin. Steep channel gradients and high discharges in the plateau margin (Himalayas) formed predominantly straight and meandering rivers. Whereas, in the plateau interior, braided channels form due to the low channel gradient and low river discharges.

Why is it important?

Both climate and tectonics are primary controls on river morphology, however their direct effect on river morphology is poorly understood and highly debated. The development of a river morphology classification system which can be used for a continuum of river patterns (straight through to braided) allows for the quantitative assessment of the climatic and tectonic impacts on river morphology. This will help to better understand how rivers respond to climatic and tectonic forcing.

4. Please provide a favourite photo

Where are you?

At the top of Roy’s peak, New Zealand.

What are you doing?

Pretending my legs don’t hurt after a long uphill climb – I’m still getting used to the New Zealand mountains!

Read more about Laura's experience here.

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