Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

Earth Sciences Division Staff: Curtis M. Oldenburg

Curtis Oldenburg

Curtis M. Oldenburg

Geological Senior Scientist

Geologic Carbon Sequestration Program Lead

Hydrogeology Department


Phone: 510-486-7419

Fax: 510-486-5686


Biographical Summary

Curtis Oldenburg is a Senior Scientist and Program Lead for the Geologic Carbon Sequestration Program, and Editor in Chief of Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology.  Curt Oldenburg received his PhD in geology from U.C. Santa Barbara in 1989, and has been working at LBNL since 1990.  His area of expertise is numerical model development and applications for coupled subsurface flow and transport processes.  He has worked in geothermal reservoir modeling, vadose zone hydrology, and contaminant hydrology.  For the last ten years, Curt Oldenburg has worked in two main areas of geologic carbon sequestration, (1) CO2 injection for enhanced gas recovery, and (2) near-surface leakage and seepage processes, monitoring, detection, and impacts including risk-based frameworks for site selection and certification. Curt Oldenburg is a co-author of the textbook entitled  Introduction to Carbon Capture and Sequestration. 

Research Interests

  • Geologic Carbon Sequestration
    • Injection of CO2 for carbon sequestration and enhanced gas recovery (CSEGR)
    • Near-surface leakage and seepage of CO2
    • Risk assessment of geologic carbon sequestration sites
  • Porous media compressed air energy storage (PM-CAES)
  • Heat and mass transfer in geologic systems
  • Dynamic behavior of subsurface systems where convection or gravity-driven flow processes occur (e.g., geothermal systems, gas reservoirs, magmatic systems, saturated and vadose zone hydrology, ferrofluid flow)
  • Code development and applications


  • 1979-1983       University of California, Berkeley. A.B. in geology, Dec. 1983.
  • 1984-1985      Princeton University, Ph.D. program in geology.
    • Transferred with advisor to U.C. Santa Barbara, Fall 1985.
  • 1985-1989       University of California, Santa Barbara. Ph.D. in geology, Sep. 1989.
PH.D. Dissertation:  Numerical experiments of double-diffusive convection in magma bodies

Professional Experience

  • Geological Senior Scientist, LBNL, September 2013–present.
  • Head, Geologic Carbon Sequestration Program, June 2008-present.
  • Staff Geological Scientist, LBNL,  Oct. 1994–August 2013.
  • Deputy Head, Geologic Carbon Sequestration Program, April 2007-May 2008.
  • Hydrogeology Department Head, LBNL, May 2002–Jan. 2006.
  • Geological Scientist, LBNL,  July 1992–Sep. 1994.
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, LBNL,  Oct. 1990–June 1992.
  • Post-doctoral researcher, UC Santa Barbara,  Oct. 1989–Sep. 1990.
  • Research Assistant, U.C. Santa Barbara,  July 1986–Sep. 1989.
  • Teaching Assistant, U.C. Santa Barbara,  Oct. 1985–June 1986.
  • Assistant in Instruction, Princeton University,  Jan.–May 1985.
  • Assistant in Research, Princeton University,  Sep.–Dec. 1984.
  • Assistant Field Geologist, Chevron Resources.  Mar.–Aug. 1984.

Professional Activities

Committee Service and Advisory Boards

  • LBNL postdoc workshop, served on three-member panel for discussion on “Job Hunting at National Labs,” August 8, 2012.
  • GHGT-11, Kyoto, Japan, Expert Review Panel, 2012.
  • Advisory Board, ULTimateCO2 Project, “Understanding the Long-Term fate of geologically stored CO2,” BRGM, France, 2011-present.
  • LBNL Materials for Energy Applications (MEA) workshop, Claremont Hotel, January 31-February 1, 2012, led development of two posters on CCS research conducted at eight National Laboratories.
  • TOUGH Steering Committee, Earth Sciences Division, LBNL, 2011-present.
  • LBNL Carbon Cycle 2.0 Steering Committee, 2011-present
  • LBNL Earth Sciences Division, Center for Nanoscale Control of Geologic Carbon (NCGC) Advisory Committee, 2011-present 
  • Annual Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, Conference Advisor, 2011-present.
  • LBNL Information Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC), ESD representative 2006-2009.


  • U.C. Berkeley, Co-taught The Berkeley Lectures on Energy: Carbon Capture and Storage (Chm Eng C295Z), Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014.
  • Haas Professional School, geologic carbon sequestration, one lecture annually 2008-2014.
  • Haas School of Business class on Energy and Sustainability, one lecture, April 21, 2009.
  • Haas School of Business, one lecture, March 6, 2007.


  • 2012 Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing for Water Resources Research, July 12, 2013.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2012 Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement (for Tech Transfer related to the TOUGH codes).
  • DOE Secretary’s Achievement Award 2011 for Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Flow Rate Technical Group work, October 2011.
  • Geothermal Resources Council, Best paper award to Rutqvist, Oldenburg, Dobson, Garcia, and Walters, for “The northwest Geysers EGS demonstration project Phase 1: Pre-stimulation prediction coupled geomechanical modeling to guide stimulation and monitoring plans, 2010 GRC Annual Meeting, Sacramento, CA.
  • USGS Director’s Award for Exemplary Service to the Nation, 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response.
  • Global Citizens Group Award at UN East Bay banquet on 10/24/08 at I-House.  Honored for contribution to IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage.
  • Nobel Peace Prize 2007, IPCC shared with Al Gore, Jr., Contributing Author of the IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage.


  • Process for guidance, containment, treatment, and imaging in a subsurface environment utilizing ferrofluids, U.S. Patent No. 6,250,848 B1, June 26, 2001.  Inventors:  G.J. Moridis and C.M. Oldenburg.

Invited Talks

  • IEAGHG Joint Network Meeting on Modeling and Risk Management, Trondheim, Norway, June 11, 2013, “Process Modeling of Wellbore Leakage for GCS Risk Assessment.”
  • Gordon Research Conference, Invited Plenary Speaker, Les Diablerets, Switzerland, June 28, 2012, “On Carbon Sequestration and Utilization: CO2 as Cushion Gas for Energy Storage.”
  • Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership Annual Meeting, Great Falls, MT, April 18-19, 2012, “Geologic Modeling and Flow Simulation.”
  • Stanford University, Energy Resources Engineering, seminar, April 10, 2012, On the Utilization of CO2 as a Cushion Gas for Compressed Air Energy Storage.”
  • U.C. Berkeley, Energy Resources Group, seminar, February 8, 2012, “Geologic Carbon Dioxide Sequestration: A Direct Approach to Reducing Point-Source CO2 Emissions.”
  • U.S. DOE Saline Formation GCS R&D Needs Workshop, October 18-21, 2011, “Simulation.”
  • U.C. Irvine, ICEPAG (Int. Colloq. on Env. Preferred Adv. Power Gen.), February 10-12, 2011, Costa Mesa, CA., “Coupling Geologic Carbon Sequestration and Compressed Air Energy Storage.”
  • U.C. Berkeley, Civil and Environmental Engineering, seminar, October 15, 2010, “Reducing Fossil Fuel CO2 Emissions by Geologic Carbon Sequestration and Compressed Air Energy Storage.”
  • Berkeley Lab Science at the Theater, “Just Say No to Carbon Emissions,” Berkeley Repertory Theater, April 26, 2010, “Understanding Geologic Carbon Sequestration.”
  • LBNL Summer Lecture Series, seminar, July 21, 2009, “Geologic Carbon Sequestration: Mitigating Climate Change by Injecting CO2 Underground.”
  • Stanford University, Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology, seminar, February 2, 2009, Modeling CO2 Leakage from Geologic Carbon Sequestration (GCS) Sites for Monitoring Design and Impact Assessment.”
  • U.C. Berkeley Institute of the Environment, seminar, November 13, 2008, Geologic Carbon Sequestration: Near-Surface Challenges.”
  • U.C. Berkeley Energy Resources Collaborative (BERC) Conference, seminar, February 2008, “Challenges of Geologic Carbon Sequestration.”
  • Montana State University, Dept. of Chemistry/ZERT Project, seminar, April 11, 2007, “Near-Surface Dispersion of CO2 Seepage from Geologic Storage Sites: Processes, Impacts, and Detection.”
  • Haas School of Business, March 6, 2007 “Geologic CO2 storage: a safe and effective approach to reducing point-source CO2 emissions.”
  • Energy INet Workshop, Calgary, January 26, 2006, “Migration Mechanisms and Potential Impacts of CO2 Leakage and Seepage from CCS Projects.”
  • U.C. Davis, “Carbon Sequestration with Enhanced Gas Recovery,” 2003.
  • Stanford University, “CO2 Injection for Carbon Sequestration with Enhanced Gas Recovery,” May 14, 2002