"My job is to uncover the engineering properties of rocks and minerals to gauge their stability and determine the feasibility of developing energy deposits in the deeper areas of the Grand Banks in a way that the rich ecosystem remains undisturbed."
If you were planning to build a million-dollar home, you’d want to know that the ground you were building on was stable. You’d be even more concerned if what you were building was a multi-million dollar oil rig in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Dr. Harunur Rashid is researching the geotechnical properties on the Grand Banks. The area is one of the richest fishing grounds in the world and the seabed potentially holds vast petroleum reserves. So far, oil has been extracted from the shallower oil fields on the Grand Banks, but the increase in oil prices in the early 2000s has raised interest in exploring the deeper places that are more challenging to reach.
By analyzing sediment core samples taken from the slopes of the southeast Grand Banks, Dr. Rashid and his colleagues will be able to determine the engineering and chemical properties of the sediments and use the data to evaluate the stability of the areas known to hold energy resources. Findings will become public information that is shared with the provincial government and other stakeholders. This information can be used to further assess risks like undersea landslides. And energy-producing companies can use the data to design potential future oil rigs.
Dr. Rashid is keen to point out that his work is purely scientific.
“I maintain a neutral point of view,” he said. “My job is to uncover the engineering properties of rocks and minerals to gauge their stability and determine the feasibility of developing energy deposits in the deeper areas of the Grand Banks in a way that the rich ecosystem remains undisturbed.”
He is also grateful to his collaborators at the Geological Survey of Canada whose scientists are major contributors of data, equipment and expertise. Dr. Rashid says that without them, his research would be just a pipe dream.