Driven by the needs and opportunities of the moment, my research career can be summarized in three stages according to the experienced acquired.
During my last year at the University of Granada, I was involved in an Oceanographic Research Cruise (North American tectonic margin, June-August, 2002) led by Dr. Hans Nelson and Prof. Chris Goldfinger, aiming the study of the paleosismicity of San Andres fault. It means the start point of my research career. There, I familiarized with key geophysical techniques in the interpretation of marine sediments. The experienced acquired allowed me to obtain a position of research assistant at the National Research Council of Spain (CSIC, Barcelona) under the supervision of Dr. MJ. Jurado (2003-2006). During my period in the CSIC, I improved skills in geophysical data loading, processing and generation of high resolution images of the subsoil. Besides, I upgraded my computing skills by using specific software (WellCAD, Terrastation) for processing borehole images and geophysical logging parameters. In 2005, I expanded my knowledge in interpreting geophysical data from well logging by working during 3 months at the GeoForschungs Zentrum Postdam (GFZ), under the supervision of Dr. Ulrich Harms (Head of Scientific Drilling Project). After concluding my training in the CSIC, Barcelona, I briefly worked in the private industry (GESSAL SL, Madrid; June-September, 2006) as technical assistant in the geological exploration and assessment of reservoirs. Later this summer, I was awarded with a National Grant FPI-scholarship to develop my PhD studies at the University of A Coruna under the supervision of Prof. Jordi Delgado (October 2006) and became member of the research group GEAMA.
My PhD addressed the environmental concern of the waste produced by the dimension stone industry, a first order problem in Galicia (Spain) and many other stone-producer regions around the world (e.g. India, China or Brasil). I focused on the assessment of the hydrodynamic properties of granite-saw dust and the transformation of this industrial waste into by-product for civil engineering applications. Despite this topic substantial differed from my previous area of research, it allowed me upgrading my theoretical view of the natural complex towards the interaction between soil-rocks and water.
In the beginning of the PhD, I focused my attention on improving my knowledge of hydrodynamic systems and technical aspects regarding the design of experimental setups, techniques of monitoring and analysis, and interpretation of data from natural environments (MsC in Water Engineering, 2008; Diploma of Advanced Studies in Civil Engineering, 2008). Meanwhile, I was developing hydrochemical analysis of natural waters and an extensive work in the laboratory to identify key hydrodynamic properties of granite fines through controlled irrigation tests. However, the fines-water interaction resulted on a complex hydro-mechano-chemical coupled system and the facilities of the University A Coruna insufficient to deal with. Hence, I looked for support in other national and international research groups, that led me to three short stays: i) October-December 2008, at the Civil Engineering School of Castilla La Mancha (Spain) where I was analysing with Prof. Vicente Navarro (expertise in soil dynamics) the behaviour of the granite fines under compaction in the presence of water; ii) January-May 2009, at the Geoenvironmental Research Centre (GRC) of Cardiff University (UK) under the supervision of Prof. Thomas R. Hywel and the collaboration of Dr. Phil Vardon, whom made me familiar with the hydro-mechanical numerical models (COMPASS model) whereby I could perform numerical simulations to validate experimental results and determine some hydrodynamic properties of granite fines; iii) January-April 2010, at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) of Hannover (Germany) where, supervised by Dr. Dieter Rammalmier and with the advice and cooperation of Dr. Ulla Noel and Dr. Mostafa Redwan, I could perform different types of kinetics columns experiments with granite fines from a multidisciplinary approach. I was inducted in the use of non-intrusive tools to monitor the advance of water flow through soil columns (e.g., x-ray absorption and electrical resistivity), advanced techniques for physicochemical analysis of pore water including earth elements (ICP-MS/OES), and the scanning electron microscope (SEM analysis) to recognize secondary mineralization in soil-rock media.
Finally, after integrating the hydro-mechano-chemical phenomena observed during the broad experimental stage and validating results with numerical models, the dissertation (July 2011, http://hdl.handle.net/2183/8485) showed results with high socio-economic impact: “…the use of the granite fines combined with sand forming a capillary barrier are suitable for waterproofing and/or sealing, at least, inert waste landfills…”, a conclusion that closed this area of research. The thesis was awarded with the Extraordinary Doctorate Award and the European Doctor Mention.
After finishing the PhD, I found in the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) a new challenge, another socio-economical concern to contribute with my experience. Thus, within the framework of several international projects and contracts related to the Spanish pilot plant for CO2 capture and storage Hontomin, Burgos, through contracts CIUDEN-GEAMA (PSE-120000-2007-2008-6, 10REM003CT), I was involved in experimental practices at the rock mechanic laboratory of the University of A Coruna (LaMeRoc, www.lameroc.com). During this period (from July 2011 to October 2013), I was analysing petrophysic and rock mechanics properties of core plugs from reservoirs, covering rock types of both the storage and sealing formations. The experience gained during this postdoctoral research under the supervision of Prof. Delgado included two main aspects:
i) Geomechanical testing: sample preparation (coring and cutting plugs, electrical gages and axial/ circumferential strain extensometers positioning), configuration and data acquisition from different kind of sensors (pressure transducers, micro-strains, acoustic wave signal, uniaxial/triaxial/tensile tests information) and data interpretation (UCS and/or CCS points, static and dynamic moduli, envelopes of failure).
ii) Routine and special core analysis: design and construction of experimental high pressure rigs to analyse rock-water-gas interaction at real conditions (reservoir conditions), determination of transport properties in rocks (including permeability to gas and water) and analysis of the sealing efficiency of cap rocks (permeability of low permeability media and breakthrough pressure).