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Apply for free-of-charge access to Earth scientific Labs in the Netherlands, in July ’24! 

The next call will be open in July 2024. 

EPOS-NL opens Facility Access calls twice per year, to welcome proposals to the:

How to apply? 

Applications can be sent when a call is open (twice per year). EPOS-NL provides facility access to researchers from other institutes than the university hosting the facility. Access can be either physical (you come over to do the analysis), or remote (you send us your samples by mail for analysis by local researchers). The choice between physical vs. remote access depends on the type of research, wishes of the hosting lab and your own wishes and will be discussed upon awarding access. 

Proposals should be less than 2 pages, and are reviewed by an external review committee.

Successful applicants receive the following services free of charge: lab/equipment use, technical support and scientific support for analyzing data for the duration of the access period. In the case of physical access, travel costs and accommodation costs up to 100 Euro/night are covered for the duration of the stay. In the case of remote access, sample shipment costs up to 100 Euro will be covered.

Never miss EPOS-NL Facility Access calls by subscribing to our newsletter on our homepage.

Earth Simulation Lab (ESL)

The Earth Simulation Lab (ESL) at Utrecht University is a unique facility with unprecedented capabilities for multi-scale research into the physical behaviour of the Earth’s crust: fully coupled reservoir analogue scale models, new generation rock mechanics experiments under true crustal conditions, fluid flow experiments and petrophysical analyses, all linked in an advanced numerical modelling facility with a focus on upscaling from the laboratory to the reservoir and field scale. Two of the main labs within the ESL are incorporated in EPOS-NL:

The Tectonic modelling laboratory (TecLab) uses scaled analogue models to better understand kilometer-scale, tectonic deformation processes, such as the breakup of the Earth’s crust or the formation of mountain ranges. An analogue model is typically 50x50x20 cm in size and consists of a stack of layers of materials with different flow behavior. Together, these layers represent the various multi-km thick rock layers that form the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. Tectonic deformation is simulated by slowly pushing or pulling one of the walls bounding the analogue model. Tracking deformation through time is achieved in 2D by taking repeated snapshots of the model surface, or in 3D, using Laser Vibrometry and/or X-ray tomography.

The High Pressure and Temperature (HPT) laboratory conducts research on the mechanical behaviour and transport properties of Earth materials at conditions pertaining to the crust and upper mantle. It is equipped with apparatus for deformation at high stress, pressure and temperature, high temperature furnaces and apparatus for thermal, microstructural and IR analysis. 

To get an impression of the HPT lab, check out this video made by NAM on research on induced earthquakes in the Groningen gas field:

At the European level, ESL contributes research data and facility access to the EPOS Thematic Core Service: Multi-scale labs

MINT (Multi-scale Imaging and Tomography Facility)

The MINT (Multi-scale Imaging and Tomography) facility is a distributed facility, hosted partly at TU Delft and partly at Utrecht University. It is a cluster of instruments, that together allow visualization and correlation of 2D and 3D rock structures, at an unprecedented range in imaging scales: from nanometers (e.g.nanopores) to decimeters (e.g. drill core). Capabilities include multi-scale 3D analysis down to atomic resolution, environmental observations under liquid conditions, automated digitization of thin sections (up to 50 in one session), automated mineralogy analysis, ultra-fast crystallographic (EBSD) mapping, valence state analysis down to atomic resolution, ultra-high resolution SEM-based EDX, even for light elements such as N, C, Li and much more. EPOS-NL has contributed the following scanners to this workflow, which have been operational since summer 2020:

·       A versa X-ray scanner for µm-resolution, 3D tomography
·       A Gemini SEM for imaging and crystallographic EBSD mapping under cryogenic conditions
·       An EVO environmental electron microscope with automated mineralogy analysis
·       An Axioscan for automated, optical scanning of up to 50 sections in one run

At the European level, MINT contributes research data and facility access to the EPOS Thematic Core Service: “Multi-scale labs”.

3D X-ray tomography - Various SEM scanners - Crystallographic (EBSD) mapping - TEM imaging at nm resolution

Geothermal well at TU Delft (DAPwell)​

The Delft Aardwarmte Project (DAP)well is a geothermal well that will be installed on the TU Delft campus in 2021. DAPwell will serve as a national infrastructure for research on a natural geothermal system within an urban setting and, at the same time, as an operating geothermal facility that heats buildings on the TUD campus. The unique aspect of the facility will be the possibility to do research on an operating geothermal system, using state of the art monitoring equipment. The DAPwell research and monitoring infrastructure will be used to investigate the fundamental scientific challenges that are presently limiting the development of geothermal energy.

For more information on DAPwell and geothermal energy in Delft click here.

Delft Petrophysics Laboratory (DPL)

The Delft Petrophysics Laboratory (DPL) at TU Delft contains experimental equipment for the determination of petrophysical rock properties. Properties that can be measured include density, porosity and permeability, electrical and thermal conductivities, acoustic velocities and mechanical properties. DPL is part of the Geoscience and Engineering Laboratory at TU Delft. Highlighted instruments available for access through EPOS-NL include:

  •       Unconfined compressive strength measurement devices
  •       Triaxial apparatus
  •       Ultrasonic and passive acoustics systems
  •       He-pycnometer
  •       TEMPOS thermal properties analyser

At the European level, DPL contributes research data and facility access to the EPOS Thematic Core Service: “Multi-scale labs”.

Hoek cell with an analogue Groningen fault slip experiment, taken by Anne Pluymakers

ORFEUS Seismological data center​

The Observatories and Research Facilities for European Seismology (ORFEUS) data center, hosted at KNMI, is the European data center for broadband seismic waveform data. Nationally, ORFEUS is crucial in the monitoring and provision of data from a unique geophysical, seismic and satellite monitoring network, focusing on induced earthquakes in the Groningen gas field and natural earthquakes in the tectonically active regions of Europe.

ORFEUS (founded 1987) is one of the oldest, most mature infrastructures for seismology in Europe, together with the European-Mediterranean Seismological center (EMSC) (established in 1975) and the European facilities for Earthquake hazard and risk (EFEHR). No other community driven seismological infrastructures exists in Europe.

To access the ORFEUS data portal, click here.

Internationally, ORFEUS is one of the key infrastructures on which the larger European Integrated Data Archive (EIDA) and EPOS Thematic Core Service “Seismology” infrastructures are being built. 

Top image: ORFEUS Data Centre seismic monitoring network in the Netherlands. Note the dense monitoring cluster in the Groningen gas field, NE Netherlands. Bottom image: The ORFEUS Data Centre is one of the main pillars in the global EIDA seismic monitoring network.

Geolab: for geochemical, mineralogical and hydrological research

The GeoLab is one of the main laboratory facilities of the Faculty of Geosciences at Utrecht University. It offers a large equipment pool to process and analyze environmental materials such as rocks, meteorites, sediments, soils, fossils and fluid samples and it provides space and appliances to perform non-conventional experiments. The specific laboratory tools and know-how can be used separately or in combination in various research fields. 

The Porous Media Lab is a state-of-the-art facility for performing research on complex and coupled multiphase flow and reactive transport in porous materials. This involves experimental work combined with real-time imaging techniques together with several advanced numerical modelling techniques. Using this integrated experimental and computational laboratory, we are able to perform cutting-edge research in diverse fields of engineering, geosciences, and biomechanics. Current projects involve the study of ink penetration into paper, characterization of moisture absorbing products, unsaturated flow in a bed of highly swelling particles, and flow and transport in human bone. Among others it includes the following facilities:

Dual energy gamma system
Confocal microscopy
A cleanroom (class 10000)
Open air microscope
– Tank flow setup
– Column scale flow setup

The equipment enables microfluidics experiments: real-time visualization of micro-processes in porous media, two phase flow dynamics and reactive transport, precipitation, biomass or bacteria growth. Lab results are routinely integrated with numerical modelling at multiple scales to further explore the impact of processes observed in the lab on the larger system.

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The NanoSIMS Lab hosts the only nano-scale secondary ion mass spectrometer (NanoSIMS) in the Netherlands. NanoSIMS is an ion imaging technique that allows the analysis of elemental and isotopic composition of solid materials at a submicrometer spatial scale (down to 50 nm). 

The key expertise of our lab lies in the field of Earth sciences. For example, we use NanoSIMS to quantify the activity of bacteria, study the spatial distribution of elements in shells of marine organisms, or measure isotopic composition of minerals, rocks, and meteorites. 

At the European level, the Geolab contributes research data to the EPOS Thematic Core Service: “Multi-Scale Labs”.

Rijswijk Centre for Sustainable Geo-energy (RCSG)

The Rijswijk Centre for Sustainable Geo-energy (RCSG) is a unique open innovation lab for improving geo-energy technologies to accelerate the energy transition. There is a particular focus on geothermal energy, an increasingly important renewable energy source, and subsurface storage of heat, hydrogen and CO2. The facilities are available for full-scale testing and demonstration of new drilling techniques, flow, and materials under high pressure and temperature.

Flow loops

Flow loops, or long-range (up to 30m) systems for fluid transport testing, are available for research on transport properties of solid particles in the fluid, multi-phase flow, or chemical scaling investigation. This can be for instance be relevant for the transport of cuttings / fines in (horizontal) drilling operations (as a function of flow rate, viscosity, shape, etc.). This set-up can also be used to simulate transport of particles in natural systems (such as rivers, faults, etc.). Flow loops include transparent tubes that can be installed horizontally, vertically or at an angle, enabling imaging of fluid flow.

Full-scale drilling simulator (with 50T load on bit)

This unique facility allows testing of drilling performance on various rocks at downhole conditions, i.e. under a fluid pressure up to 250 bar. The 50T compression stroke drilling machine is connected to a full capacity mud circulation system with pumps and ring line and a shaker. The unit can test the performance of different drill bits or other drilling technology (e.g. jetting) on different rock specimens under different pressure conditions.

12m deep research well

The 12 meter (18”diameter) deep cased borehole can be used to install a vessel that can be pressurized (up to 250 bar) and heated (up to 90 °C) by water circulation. In this vessel it is possible to test different downhole tools but the vessel can also be filled with sediments (sand/clay/…) to be used in various test, e.g. to investigate vertical flow or sealing capabilities by imposing pressure at the base of the sediment pile.

6 meter tall, 1000 bar confining pressure vessel 

A large 6 meter high pressure vessel (13” ID, 600 liter) can be used for burst and collapse tests of pipes, such as new casing materials, and for pressure test of connections, sealing solutions (incl. e.g. packers) and sensors. The working pressure of the vessel is up to 1000 bar. Downhole partial pressure load and hydrostatic pressure conditions can be simulated in the vessel. Use of the vessel for geomechanical (hydrostatic compression) or long-range (6m) flow-through tests on core or sediments, under high confinement can be discussed.

Unconfined, axial compression of large samples

The available load frames can be used for experiments requiring large mechanical force or loads, for example mimicking formation load, placement forces or hydrostatic load. The largest press can pull 125 T or push 400 T and is able to test samples up to 1-1.5m in size (the hydraulic cylinder has a 3000mm stroke) and up to 0.5 m diameter. Furthermore, a 300T mechanical press (500mm stroke) and a smaller 20T press are present. The presses are characterized by a simple setup to apply force on tools and materials and are connected to a data-acquisition unit.

At the European level, the RCSG provides data to EPOS Multi-Scale Labs