A team of five graduate students from West Virginia University won the Eastern Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists(AAPG) Imperial Barrel Award.

WVU masters degree candidates John Tellers of Wheeling, Valerie Smith of Point Marion, Pa., and Julia McConnell of Vinton, Va., and doctoral students Jessica Pierson of Bridgeport and Matthew Boyce of Corpus Christi, Texas, will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the AAPG s annual meeting April 18-19 in San Antonio, where they will compete in the final event of the international contest. They will face teams from schools in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Faculty coaches Tim Carr and Jaime Toro will accompany the WVU students to Texas. Other students who contributed to the research effort include Christian Figueroa-Tyler of Santa Ana, Calif., Kyle Vickery Littlefield of Hummelstown, Pa., Roy Sexton of Independence and Joseph Wickline of Beckley.

Ive enjoyed the opportunity to do this kind of sophisticated research,said Smith, a geophysics masters degree candidate in the Department of Geology and Geography in WVU s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.Our team is strong, and our faculty advisers really push us to the next level. I cant wait to represent WVU in the finals.

AAPG s Imperial Barrel Award program is an annual petroleum exploration evaluation competition created for graduate students studying geoscience. University student teams compete to win scholarship funds dedicated to petroleum geoscience education.

In this global contest, each team analyzes a geological and geophysical dataset from a basin somewhere around the world. Each group also produces a 30-minute presentation evaluating the basin for petroleum potential and proposes an exploration plan. The judges are professionals from the industry.

The WVU team analyzed 8.8 gigabytes of data from the Cooper Basin in Australia.

We were amazed at how energized the students were by this challenge,said Toro, an associate professor of structural geology and tectonics.They learned an immense amount while struggling to make sense of the data and master the sophisticated software used in the analysis, such as Schlumbergers Petrel.

Real-world datasets of this caliber are an amazing teaching tool,added Carr, Marshall Miller Professor of Energy in the Department of Geology and Geography at WVU .Its like teaching without ever opening your mouth.

WVU will compete against the following schools in the finals: Federal University of Technology, Nigeria; University of Indonesia; University of Alberta; University of Leoben, Austria; University of Louisiana; University of Oklahoma; San Diego State University; Colorado School of Mines; Texas Christian University; University of Aberdeen, Scotland; and Imperial College London, England.

The winning team will receive the Imperial Barrel Award and $20,000 for its school. Second place is the Selley Cup and $10,000. Third place garners the Stoneley Medal and $5,000.

AAPG is the worlds largest professional geological society with over 30,000 members in more than 110 countries.

For more information about the AAPG s Imperial Barrel Award, visithttp://www.aapg.org/iba

WVU Department of Geology and Geography on the Net:http://www.geo.wvu.edu “> http://www.geo.wvu.edu