Secretary General

Ricardo Olea

  • USGS Eastern Enery Resources Science Center (Reston, VA, USA)

Ricardo Olea is a Research Mathematical Statistician with the USGS Eastern Enery Resources Science Center in Reston, VA.


Ricardo A. Olea is a Mathematical Research Statistician with the Eastern Energy Resources Science Center (EERSC) at Reston, VA.  He has extensive experience in quantitative modeling in the earth sciences and public health, primarily in the areas of petroleum geology and engineering, coal resource assessment, geostatistics, classical statistics, compositional data modeling, economic evaluation, well log analysis, marine geology, medical geography, geophysics, and geohydrology.  He is a member of the Compositional Data Association, Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, International Association for Mathematical Geosciences, and Sigma Xi and serves as an Associate Editor of the Springer journal Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment.  He received a Doctor of Engineering degree in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering from the University of Kansas and spent most of his professional career with the National Oil Company of Chile (ENAP) and the Kansas Geological Survey before joining the USGS in 2006.

Upon receiving his Mining Engineer degree from the University of Chile, Ricardo Olea started his professional career as an exploration seismologist with the National Oil Company of Chile (ENAP).  Later he served in succession positions as geostatistician, log analyst, economic analyst of plays and concessions to foreign operators, and reservoir engineer.  He migrated to the United States in 1985 to pursue a career as a research scientist with the Kansas Geological Survey in Lawrence, Kansas, where he stayed until the closing of the Mathematical Geology Section in 2003.  Before joining the USGS in 2006, he had appointments with the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering of the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; the Marine Geology Section of the Baltic Research Institute of the University of Rostock, Warnemünde, Germany; and the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Stanford University.

At the USGS, Ricardo provides statistical support to about 50 scientists at his Science Center and collaborates with colleagues throughout the USGS. Ongoing efforts include:

  • Implementation of an improved methodology for the assessment of uncertainty in the assessment of coal resources.
  • Contribution to enhance mathematical modeling for the assessment of CO2 sequestration capacity of the United States and potential increases in oil production using CO2 in tertiary recovery.
  • Personal efforts and joint work with scientists worldwide to advance the application of statistics to the earth sciences, including modeling of probability distributions below detection limit of geochemical elements, improvements to statistical inference using data with preferential clustered sampling and assessment of uncertainty in the modeling of spatial correlation.
  • Collaboration with scientists at the CoDa-research group (UdG, Spain) to work topics such as "original units" or "biomarkers for oil data", to list a few.

Dr. Olea has been active primarily at the International Association for Mathematical Geology (IAMG), being elected as Secretary General (1992–96) and President (1996–2000).  In 2004, IAMG presented him with its highest award, the Krumbein Medal, for his contributions to science and the profession.