Research and Teaching Interests
Jay Banner‘s research and teaching interests center on Earth surface processes, including climate and hydrologic processes, how they are preserved in the geologic record, and how human activity affects the sustainability of water resources. These subjects are explored using a range of approaches that include field studies, petrography, isotope geochemistry, and modeling. Examples of research projects using these approaches are studies of cave deposits (speleothems) as records of the links between climate change and hydrology, studies of carbonate rocks as records of the chemistry of ancient oceans, and studies of modern aquifers and watersheds in urbanizing environments. These projects are detailed below. Jay is also one of the organizers of the first Bridging Barriers research initiative at UT-Austin, called Planet Texas 2050. This interdisciplinary project addresses the challenges to Texas’s resiliency posed by the climate change and population growth projected for the state in the 21st century.
Our group investigates three main research areas, described below.
Paleoclimate and Paleohydrology
Speleothems are cave calcite deposits that are geographically widespread and contain key information about past hydrologic, geomorphic and climate conditions. Records of past conditions are being reconstructed through studies of speleothems and tree rings in Texas, and through studies of speleothems in the Western Pacific region, the Bahamas, and Barbados. One emphasis of this research is the rigorous assessment of ancient signals recorded by speleothems through monitoring experiments in active caves.
The processes of groundwater and surface water evolution, flow paths, and impacts of urbanization are investigated using stable and radiogenic isotopes and trace elements. This approach is applied to the Edwards aquifer of Texas, the midcontinent USA, the Pleistocene aquifer of Barbados, and central Texas watersheds. Temporal changes in these processes are investigated through geochemical analysis of tree-rings and travertine growth layers.
Reconstructing the chemistry of ancient oceans using marine carbonate rocks is applied to examining past changes in Earth surface processes and chemical stratigraphic correlation. Essential to the successful analysis of such ancient sedimentary sequences is establishing criteria for identifying least-altered samples through petrographic, stratigraphic, and geochemical means. These studies have been conducted in the Mississippian of the midcontinent, Cambrian of the Great Basin, and Devonian of Western Australia.
Research Experience for Undergraduates
The Research Experience for Undergraduates in Integrated Environmental Science gives undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research into The Science of Global Change and Sustainability. Participants spend ten weeks designing a research project, participating in a research group, and presenting their work. This program is funded by the National Science Foundation.
Isotope Clean Lab (Lab Manager: Dr. Staci Loewy)
Mass spectrometers (Lab Manager: Dr. Staci Loewy)