eNews January 2020

Meet the Researcher Raven Goswick, Research Engineer, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

By Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

Raven Goswick is a Research Engineer at the Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC) located at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) in Socorro, NM. She is presently working with the Reservoir Evaluation and Advanced Computational Technologies group and is involved in several key projects including the NM Universities Produced Water Synthesis Group, Southwest Regional Partnership Farnsworth Unit, and New Mexico Oil Conservation Division spill reports. Goswick believes the most important aspect of her role is creating more partnerships with industry and the PRRC. She is an experienced user of hydraulic fracture modeling software (FRACPRO, GOHFER, MSHALE, and WELLCAT), and has expertise in well operations and geomechanics/rock mechanics with her current research focusing on the subcritical fracturing in rocks.

Raven received BS and MS degrees from NMT in petroleum engineering in 2004 and engineering mechanics with an emphasis in solid mechanics in 2006, respectively. She is currently pursuing a PhD in petroleum engineering at NMT with an anticipated graduation date of 2021. She first began her research career as a teaching assistant for NMT in 2005, allowing her the opportunity to apply her skills firsthand in a solid and fluid mechanics undergraduate lab. From there, she became a Reservoir and Completions Engineer for Encana Oil and Gas, Inc., where she assisted her team in understanding the importance of shale resources in geomechanics by creating Frac Models in MSHALE software to simulate fracture designs and mechanical properties. These experiences enabled Raven to take on the role of Senior Completions Engineer for several businesses over the years including the Apache Corporation, Devon Energy, and Sable Permian Resources. This line of work required her to supervise field operations, maintain a strict budget for each project and determine completion efficiency. She also designed and implemented numerous hydraulic fracture stimulation programs in order to better understand the effects of fracture heights and containment. Goswick became the Principal Engineer for Cricondenbar Consulting, LLC in Oklahoma City, OK, offering engineering consulting services on completion design, reservoir characterization, and wellbore construction before ultimately reaching her current position at NMT in 2019.

Raven currently has two publications that feature her research. One is a technical report entitled, Conformance Improvement Using Gels (2002), and the other has been published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers entitled, Utilizing Oil Soluble Tracers to Understand Stimulation Efficiency Along the Lateral (2014). In addition to her research responsibilities, she is also an active member of the American Rock Mechanics Association, the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.  From 2017 to 2018, Goswick was the conference co-chair for the SPE Liquids-rich Basins Conference as well as a committee member for the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference.

When asked about her future plans, Raven states that she does anticipate future research with the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute and other universities. She aspires to become a respected contributing engineer in her field of study and will continue to work on rock mechanics research after completing her PhD.

eNews January 2020

Rincon Arroyo Watershed Field Trip

By Holly Brause, NM WRRI Research Scientist

When dealing with complex water-related problems, it is often difficult to bring individuals and agencies with different perspectives and goals together to work toward a common goal. The Rincon Arroyo Watershed Field Trip, however, showed that finding common ground, and working collaboratively on creative solutions, is indeed possible and a desired goal for many in this region.

On the morning of January 22, 2020, a group of people met at the Firehouse in Rincon, NM and received a bound booklet full of maps, photos, and plans that included a preliminary watershed analysis and identified the most pressing problems in the Rincon Arroyo Watershed with some possible solutions. The field trip was sponsored by the South Central New Mexico Stormwater Management Coalition (Stormwater Coalition). The Stormwater Coalition is comprised of the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, Doña Ana and Sierra County Flood Commissions, the Hatch and Mesilla Valley region’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the City of Anthony, and Village of Hatch. For the Rincon Arroyo Watershed Field Trip, the Stormwater Coalition brought together participants from agencies such as the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Bureau of Land Management and its Resource Advisory Council, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, the International Boundary and Water Commission, and along with local farmers and ranchers.

At the first stop on the tour, the group gathered at the edge of the massive arroyo downstream close to the outlet of the Rio Grande that was full of several feet of loose sandy earth. In the distance, the group could see that the arched supports of a railroad bridge were just a few feet above the rising levels of sediment. The group leaders explained that the sediment filling the arroyo comes from soil erosion higher up in the watershed during fast-moving water runoff events like monsoon rains. When places like this one are cleared of sediment, it only takes a year or two for the sediment to return to its previous levels. The fast-moving waters and heavy sediment loads generated by storms are putting the banks of this arroyo at risk of breaching and creating devastating flood events, threatening to wash out a wastewater treatment plant and homes on one side, and a farmer’s fields on the other.

As the field trip progressed, the group stopped at several other sites to see flooding and erosional damage in the watershed and to strategize solutions. Throughout the daylong event, the group leaders emphasized the importance of restoration work in the upper watershed as a way to slow down floodwater and to reduce erosion that ends up as sediment in the Rio Grande waterways and agricultural conveyance systems. The field trip ended in the upper watershed where leaders pointed out the critical areas for restoration, and suggested approaches and techniques that are promising for the area.

Amongst such a diverse group of stakeholders and agency representatives, it was heartening to see collaboration in action. There was consensus that a large-scale watershed restoration approach is needed to create meaningful change and get at the root problems in at-risk areas. Such work, however, will require additional funding. A workshop following the field trip for interested parties to review NRCS funding sources was set for the day after the field trip.

eNews January 2020

NMSU Student Receives NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant

By Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

After the Gold King Mine spill of 2015 that contaminated the Animas and San Juan Rivers, local agricultural producers were concerned about the safety of produce grown in fields irrigated with water from these rivers. In order for the farmers throughout the Animas and San Juan watershed to know their produce is safe, a thorough investigation of toxic metals contamination was needed.

The examination of whether toxic metals are present in produce in order to inform growers and consumers about food safety is the subject of a research project by Michael Whiting, a master’s student in the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. In support of this research, Michael received a 2019 New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute Student Water Research Grant for his project entitled, Monitoring toxic metal uptake by corn grown in agricultural fields across Animas and San Juan Rivers.

The purpose of Michael’s research is to analyze and monitor the levels of lead, arsenic, and aluminum in corn samples harvested from agricultural fields irrigated from the Animas and San Juan Rivers. The soil, leaf tissue, and corn kernels are then analyzed for toxic elements which are not required in any amount for human nutrition. This is particularly important because corn is a staple crop in the region, especially in the Navajo Nation.

Five fields have been selected for this study and will be divided into four quadrants, and three samples will be collected from each quadrant. The exact location of each sample is recorded using a GPS unit.

“It is critical that a research university like NMSU, which has built strong relationships with the local community, conduct these investigations to understand the environmental impact of legacy mining and inform growers and consumers about food safety,” Michael explains. “The overall goal of this project is to educate and inform multiple stakeholders in assessing the safety of their agricultural produce.”

Work currently underway by NMSU is being shared with the farmers across the watershed through Navajo Nation teach-in presentations and factsheets. Michael also presented his research at the 64th Annual New Mexico Water Conference in Pojoaque, NM.

Michael is originally from Yuma, AZ. Michael is working under the guidance of his faculty advisor Dr. April Ulery, NMSU professor in Plant and Environmental Sciences, and plans to graduate in Spring 2021 with a Master of Science degree. After graduating, Michael hopes to work for a government agency in the field of environmental science.