The 2018 Division Outstanding Early Career Scientists Award is awarded to Victor Vilarrasa for significant contributions to the understanding of the thermo-hydro-mechanical processes inducing seismicity in geo-energy-related operations.
Victor Vilarassa completed his PhD at the Technical University of Catalonia, Spain in 2012 and is currently working at the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona. In 2013–2016, he was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne.
Vilarassa’s research domain focuses on the understanding of the coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical and chemical processes involved in deep fluid circulation. His work has led, among others, to the proposal for cold (dense) injection of carbon dioxide in geological storage projects, which reduces energy requirements by a factor around five and improves mechanical stability. Further he developed the concept of high pressure injection tests to characterise geomechanical properties of caprocks as well as easy-to-use semi-analytical solutions for the carbon dioxide plume in idealised geological storage operations. Vilarassa’s most ground-breaking work is the one on the understanding of induced (micro)seismicity in geo-energy related projects. His research has opened up novel methodologies that will allow minimising the risk of inducing felt earthquakes thus contributing to safe carbon storage in deep formations to mitigate anthropogenic climate change. The research results have been published in high impact scientific journals and have attracted many citations.