The University of Utah Research Institute has opened a center to assist government and industry in the search for new oil, gas and geothermal energy deposits and a wide range of minerals, officials say.

M. Lee Allison, senior geologist at the institute's Earth Science Laboratory, is director of the center, which is creating a consortium of industry associates, said university spokesman James Bapis.Allison has an extensive background in processing and interpreting dipmeter data. Dipmeters are devices used in borehole studies of the Earth's subsurface strata and often provide the only way to determine the presence of a resource.

Increasingly, dipmeters are being used to assess rock fractures in hazardous and nuclear waste repositories that might allow material to leak out, Bapis said.

Sponsored by the U.S. Energy Department, the center is cooperating with resource companies throughout the United States in using dipmeters in an effort to understand stress and fracturing in geothermal fields.

Andy Bengston, who developed statistical curvative analysis techniques (SCAT), has joined the center as research associate. SCAT, a revolutionary approach to interpreting dipmeter data, was critical in the discovery of many oil fields.