- Ph.D. Geology (emphasis on Applied Geophysics), 2013, West Virginia University
- M.S. Natural Science (emphasis on Structural Geology), 1981, Stephen F. Austin State
- B.S. Geology, 1978, Texas A & M University
FlareNitro - Produced Natural Gas Flaring Mitigation
Dr. Toelle has been awarded a provisional patent (see the “Patents” section below)
for a methodology designed to mitigate the flaring of natural gas at oil well sites.
During oil production in some geologic plays, the oil produced has a high volatile
content and gas comes out of solution when the oil comes to the surface due to the
release of pressure. Dr. Toelle and his co-inventor, Dr. Maohong Fan, are researching
a new method for capturing this gas which is referred to as "FlareNitro". This process could increase an operating company’s profits from wells that produce
this type of gas as well as decreasing the environmental impact of the installations
by eliminating the need for flaring.” Please see the link to a video that describes
some of this research under the section below entitled “Research Web Sites”.
Petroleum Systems Modeling of Wyoming Geologic Basins
While working for Texaco, Dr. Toelle performed a number of basin analyses in offshore
California. His research group, The Wyoming Petroleum Systems Research Group, is currently using a state-of-the-art, full 3-D petroleum systems modeling program
to model the petroleum systems with various geologic basins in Wyoming. Dr. Toelle
presented some of the results of this group’s work at the AAPG's Regional Conference
in Cheyenne in 2019 and this work received the Steve Champlin Memorial Award for the best poster presentation. Modeling work is continuing on selected basins
within Wyoming. Please see the link to this group’s web page under the section below
entitled “Research Web Sites”.
Seismic-Based Porosity / Fracture Detection
Since 2001, Dr. Toelle has investigated the use of various seismic attributes for
the detection of open fracture systems. This research was conducted during consulting
projects for various Schlumberger clients. As a result of some of this research, Dr.
Toelle obtained a patent for Schlumberger in 2005 (Patent No. 6,941,228). He is currently
continuing his research in this field.
Nitro-Tube - Wildfire Suppression
In 2013 the “Governor’s Task force on Forests” identified wildfire as one of the major
threats to Wyoming’s forests. Since then a number of major wildfires have destroyed
millions of acres of forest throughout the western US including over 175,000 acres
of Wyoming forests during the Mullen wildfire in 2020 in the Medicine Bow Mountains.
In an effort to mitigate this threat Dr. Toelle is researching the potential of re-purposing
certain oil and gas industry equipment and methods for fighting wildfires. For this
effort he formed a research group with the help of his co-inventors, Dr. Suresh Muknahallipatna
and Dr. Robert Kubichek, and they obtained a non-provisional patent on the technology
(see the “Patents” section below). The proposed method is known as NitroTube and is currently seeking funding to continue this research.
4D Seismic Analysis and Reservoir Monitoring
Dr. Toelle's Ph.D. research included the monitoring of injected CO2 within a subsurface
reservoir for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery. During this research, Dr. Toelle
used 4-D seismic difference mapping to identify where within a carbonate reservoir,
Silurian aged pinnacle reef in the northern Michigan basin, CO2 flowed following injection
at a particular well location. This research was funded by the US Department of Energy
(DE-FC26-04NT15425) and has implications with regard to CO2 sequestration. (DOE brochure,
In addition to the enhanced oil recovery project mentioned above, Dr. Toelle's PhD
research also investigated the interpretation of Azimuthal Seismic volumes for discriminating
between matrix porosity and fracture systems within carbonate reservoirs. This on-going
research has significant implications with regard to the characterization of reservoirs
with respect to their development, particularly during the enhanced oil recovery phase.
Additionally, this is proving to be of significance with regard to production from
shale oil reservoirs, as knowing where open, natural fracture systems exist within
these reservoirs is important to economic production.
Since the start of his career Dr. Toelle has been interested in Plate Tectonics and
has conducted research into the concept of Tectonic Inheritance. Before coming to
the University of Wyoming his research in this area was focused on geologic features
in central Oklahoma that relate to the breakup of the super-continent Pannotia. While
working in Wyoming he has begun investigating large scale geologic features as they
pertain to his work on basin modeling (see above) and how they may relate to previous