Engineered Natural Systems

Onsite researchers at NETL develop processes, techniques, instrumentation, and relationships to collect, interpret, and disseminate data in an effort to characterize and understand the behavior of engineered natural systems. Research includes investigating theoretical and observed phenomena to support program needs and developing new concepts in the areas of analytical biogeochemistry, geology, and monitoring. Specific expertise includes:

Analytical- Bio- and Geo- Chemistries

  • Developing tools and the supporting science base needed to evaluate biological and chemical processes in engineered-natural systems.
  • Evaluating complex field samples and identifying chemistries important for understanding the behavior of the systems.
  • Evaluating changes to natural conditions due to resource development and environmental mitigation strategies.
  • Developing methods for analysis of field samples collected from complex geologic and environmental systems.


  • Understanding and constraining the geologic framework associated with a variety of energy-related, engineered-natural systems, including hydrocarbon, CO2 storage, natural gas hydrate, and geothermal systems.
  • Characterizing and evaluating geologic systems, which includes field-based studies, laboratory characterization of geologic samples and media, as well as capabilities in support of wellbore to regional-scale subsurface interpretation of geologic systems through the utilization of petroleum systems, basin analysis, and geospatial and geostatistical approaches utilizing key geologic, geophysical, and engineering datasets for engineered-natural systems.


  • Monitoring air quality; conducting remote sensing; performing geophysical surveys; sampling gases, liquids, and solids; performing tracer investigations; measuring stream flow; and conducting geospatial investigations.