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The University of Texas at Austin

2008 Releases & Features


Energy analysts at The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Energy Economics (CEE) and the World Bank have completed the first comprehensive database of 49 National Oil Companies (NOCs), titled “A Citizen’s Guide to National Oil Companies.” The database is complemented by a technical report containing a preliminary analysis and possible interpretation of the…

Get a SMART Start

Doug Brown (B.S., 1984) visited the Jackson School of Geosciences last spring for Real World Geology 101, a student brown bag forum on geoscience careers. As the president of BXP Ltd., an oil and gas acquisition and development company in Dallas, he had a wealth of experience to share with the students. “I said to…

Speech from the Fall 2008 Graduation

Dean Groat, distinguished faculty and researchers, honored candidates for graduation, ladies and gentleman. Let me begin by congratulating three groups of people in today’s audience. First, to the parents, let me say how much credit you deserve on this occasion. As the mother of a daughter who is planning to graduate next May, I know…

Click Images for Video or High Resolution Imagery Video Three Craters With Ice (97 MB MOV) Images Three Martian Craters: Actual Surface (left), Without Debris (right) Martian Mountain With Lobate Deposit Similar to Those with Confirmed Glaciers   Location of Newly Discovered Martian Glaciers Analogous Formations on Earth: Rock-covered Glaciers in Antarctica Radar on Mars…

Vast Martian glaciers of water ice under protective blankets of rocky debris persist today at much lower latitudes than any ice previously identified on Mars, says new research using ground-penetrating radar on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Because water is one of the primary requirements for life as we know it, finding large new reservoirs of…

FANs Alumni Board Wants You

Earlier this year, the Jackson School of Geosciences Friends and Alumni Network (JSG FANs) formed its first board, consisting of 15 members, including president Dan Smith and the directors of the newly formed Austin, Dallas, Houston, Midland and San Antonio chapters. FANs organizes tailgate parties, alumni receptions, class reunions, continuing education lectures, and field trips….

Cultivating a Culture of Generosity

John Jackson’s gift to the University of Texas at Austin, one of the most generous ever to a public university, not only enabled the creation of the Jackson School of Geosciences, it also set an example for the kind of community he wanted to create—a community with a strong spirit of generosity. We can’t all…

Conducting a rapid response research mission after Hurricane Ike, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin surveyed the inlet between Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, discovering the hurricane significantly reshaped the seafloor and likely carried an enormous amount of sand and sediment out into the Gulf. The ongoing research could help coastal…

New Endowment Honors Women Geologists

When Jeanne Allen Ferrin (B.A., 1948) came to the University of Texas at Austin to study geology in the 1940s, she wasn’t the only woman. Her sister Rosamond (B.A., 1947) was already a student in the program. In the late ‘40s, 18 women graduated from the university with geology degrees. The war had just ended…

Scientists from the U.S., U.K. and Australia have teamed up to explore two of the last uncharted regions of Earth, the Aurora and Wilkes Subglacial Basins, immense ice-buried lowlands in Antarctica with a combined area the size of Mexico. The research could show how Earth’s climate changed in the past and how future climate change…

Catlos Receives Fulbright Award

Elizabeth Catlos, Associate Professor in the Deptartment of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey during the 2008-2009 academic year, according to the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board….

The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Geological Sciences is growing dramatically with the addition of 15 new faculty—representing an approximately 80 percent success rate on our offers. Of these, seven are in residence this fall, three will arrive in January, and five more next fall. Six are female, which raises the total female…

Slip Sliding Away

<< Return to ‘Earth Science Revolution’… The initiative addresses another critical need in Texas, indeed across the U.S.—the retention of minority students. As minority students advance through high school and college, at every level their numbers dwindle and the proportion of them studying science and engineering shrinks. Few go on to pursue careers in science….

Earth Science Revolution

The state of Texas is in the midst of a major overhaul of high school science education. To graduate on the preferred or distinguished track, students will soon be required to complete four years of science. When the new guidelines were approved in 2006, only two other states, Alabama and Idaho, required four years of…

When tectonic plates meet on the seafloor, they tend to do one of three things: slink away from each other (spreading), crawl past each other (transform motion), or smash headfirst into each other forcing one to the bottom of the dogpile (subduction). And then there is Macquarie Ridge, which lies south of New Zealand where…

In May, the Jackson School debuted the new Marine Geology & Geophysics (MG&G) Field Course, designed to provide hands-on instruction for graduate and upper-level undergraduate students in the collection and processing of MG&G data. Sean Gulick, Mead Allison and John Goff, research scientists at the Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) taught the course. Five graduate and…

Materials deep inside Earth have unexpected atomic properties that might force earth scientists to revise their models of Earth’s internal processes, a team of researchers has discovered. The researchers recreated in the lab the materials, crushing pressures and infernal temperatures they believe exist in the lowermost mantle, nearly 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) below Earth’s surface….

Alan Robock, a professor of environmental science at Rutgers University, sat in a scientific meeting listening to his colleagues explain how global warming might be reversed by a novel technique: injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere. The idea makes some sense. Immediately following large volcanic eruptions, such as Pinatubo in 1991, global temperatures drop and…

You’ve probably heard the term nuclear winter. In the early 1980s, climate scientists using simple computer models discovered that a large scale nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia would do more than kill millions of people in those two countries. Recent studies have borne out the initial results: such a bombardment would produce smoke,…

How do you hold the attention of 124 high school students for 5 hours? Oh, and manage to teach them a little science too? That was the challenge taken up by the staff, alumni and students of the Jackson School of Geosciences one balmy day this past May. Their solution? First, take them out somewhere…

The nation’s largest geoscience pipeline initiative for high school students just got bigger. This summer, for the first time, 9th and 11th grade students from Houston are taking trips to Washington, D.C. and the Pacific Northwest as part of GeoFORCE Texas. Next year, two more grades will be added, representing all four grade levels. At…

Eight undergraduate students from Fort Valley State University (FVSU) visited Austin last April to meet students and faculty of the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences and consider transferring into the school to complete their degrees. The students from FVSU, one of Georgia’s designated Historically Black Colleges and Universities, are members of…

The Advanced Energy Consortium, a research consortium managed by the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to develop micro- and nanoscale technology for enhanced reservoir characterization and hydrocarbon detection in conventional oil and gas reservoirs with the ultimate goal…

Four years and 16,000 miles later, the first 80 southwest Texas high school students to take part in GeoFORCE Texas have completed the summer college preparatory program, making an educational odyssey from Washington D.C to Washington state, from the Grand Canyon to the Florida Keys, with stops along the way at geological sites in Utah,…

The University of Texas at Austin has named Charles G. “Chip” Groat interim dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences. Groat replaces Eric J. Barron, dean since 2006, who left the university to become director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Groat holds the position while a national search takes place for the next…

Vulcan Materials made a $25,000 donation this week to the GeoFORCE Texas program reaffirming its commitment to help inspire Southwest Texas high school students to consider the geosciences and related fields of study. Darren Hicks, Vulcan Materials Southwest Division director of human resources and Chuck Bevis, Vulcan’s Uvalde plant supervisor, made the check presentation on…

A couple of years ago, the University of Texas adopted a new slogan. I’m sure more than a few of you probably remember the ad that appeared during UT football games with the resonant voice of Walter Cronkite boldly declaring: “what starts here changes the world.” Admittedly, my first thought upon hearing the new slogan…

Thank you, Dean Barron. How satisfying it is to be a part of today’s ceremony. This is an important moment in the life of the Jackson School. It is an important moment in the lives of today’s graduates. And it is a very important moment in the lives of parents and family members, who celebrate…

  Featured Speaker: Dr. Larry Faulkner   Undergraduate Valedictorian: James Pape, B.S. ’08

Brian Kiel, a master’s student in the Jackson School of Geosciences, has received a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The fellowship will provide $30,000 per year in living expenses for the next three years as he conducts research towards his master’s degree. Kiel will analyze three-dimensional seismic data collected by the oil…

  The Jackson School recognizes promotions by adding to the Walter Library a book, chosen by a newly promoted faculty member or research scientist, with a name plate in their honor as a lasting contribution to future scholarship. For 2008, each individual receiving a promotion effective during the 2007-08 academic year was invited to select…

Jackson School Awards & Honors, 2008

Staff Excellence Awards Jackson School Service Awards Jackson School Research Awards Jackson School Teaching Award Joseph C. Walter Jr. Excellence Awards   Staff Excellence Awards Excerpts are from Dean Barron’s remarks at the annual Jackson School Awards Ceremony April 24, 2008. Wanda LaPlante, Bureau of Economic Geology Sixteen different individuals sent in nominations, and they…

Climate scientists have long warned that climate change will disrupt the water supply we depend on for drinking, growing food, and generating energy by altering rainfall patterns, intensifying droughts and floods, and reducing snow-fed water supplies in many regions. According to Bridget Scanlon, a researcher at The University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology,…

Also See: Other JSG Awards and Honors, 2008 The Joseph C. Walter Jr. Excellence Award is the most prestigious internal award in the School. It carries a cash prize of $2,000. This award was provided for in an endowment created by Mr. J. C. Walter, Jr. and approved by the Board of Regents in 1977….

Institute Pioneers Research on Hydrates

<< Return to ‘Exploration & Innovation’… Researchers at the Jackson School’s Institute for Geophysics have a distinguished track record of basic research on gas hydrates, from pioneering the earliest efforts at detecting them to advancing our understanding of their vertical orientation in venting systems and addressing critical questions on their potential release due to warming…

Coal Gasification Regains Spotlight

<< Return to ‘Exploration & Innovation’… The product of coal gasification—a process that turns coal into a gas rather than burning it directly—is another type of unconventional gas that has recently moved into the spotlight. Coal gasification has been around for almost a century but climbing energy prices and growing climate change concerns are now…

As petroleum supplies tighten, crude oil prices remain high, and energy security continues to concern U.S. politicians, the world is increasingly turning its attention to unconventional oil and gas. Energy analysts now routinely accept that the world’s unconventional hydrocarbons, such as gas hydrates, tight gas sandstones, and oil and gas shales, hold more fuel than…

On the one year anniversary of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands that killed 52 people and displaced more than 6,000, scientists are revising their understanding of the potential for similar giant earthquakes in other parts of the globe. Geoscientists from The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences and…

Industrial Associates Program Turns 20

Some of the Jackson School of Geosciences’ strongest corporate sponsors contribute to research through the Industrial Associates Program (IA). The program supports researchers and graduate student research assistants, as well as laboratory and computational infrastructure. As part of their membership, donors receive research results, training and networking opportunities. The two longest-running IA programs at the…

By Michelle Michot Foss Geotimes, February 2008 According to Michelle Foss, head of the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Energy Economics, Africa is entering “a new phase in the history of global oil and gas development.” In an article Foss wrote for Geotimes, she describes the desire of Africans to control their energy…

The American West is something of a seismic puzzle, and researchers are trying to figure out how the pieces got their shapes and what the picture on the box looks like. “The western U.S. is interesting because it’s divided into distinct provinces each with different topography and tectonic behavior,” says Stephen Grand, Carleton Professor of…

Volcanoes, like people, each have their own distinct personality. Hawaii’s lava oozes gently without a care in the world. Mount St. Helens and Mount Vesuvius seduce hapless strangers with their quiet slumbering beauty, then abruptly awaken in fury, crushing all in their paths. Fickle Mount Aetna can’t seem to make up its mind. According to…

The University of Texas at Austin is starting a $2.38 million initiative to train eighth through 12th grade earth science teachers working predominantly in minority or underserved public schools in Texas. The initiative, the TeXas Earth and Space Science Revolution (TXESS Revolution), aims to restore the state’s capacity to teach earth and space science following…

Shell Oil Company has contributed $225,500 to support academic and outreach programs at The University of Texas at Austin. The grant benefits both undergraduates and graduate students in the university’s McCombs School of Business, Cockrell School of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences and Jackson School of Geosciences. The Jackson School alone received $58,000 for academics,…

The alumni association of The University of Texas at Austin, the Texas Exes, will award 2008 Teaching Awards to two Jackson School of Geosciences educators—Professor Mark Cloos and Teaching Assistant Estibalitz Ukar—for their “positive influence on the educational experience of university students.” They will receive their awards at a ceremony Feb. 5. Mark Cloos began…

Originally published in GSA Today, January 2008. Reposted with permission. There’s Adventure in Geology (May, 1959) is a book that was written for young people in the late 1950s. It was given to my wife by one of her best friends before we were married with the admonition, “If you are going to marry a geologist,…

Houston public school students have a new opportunity to explore science through GeoFORCE Texas, a summer college preparatory program that inspires students to excel in math and science and pursue studies in the earth sciences. In partnership with the Houston Independent School District (HISD), The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences will…

The Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences announces the Advanced Energy Consortium (AEC), a multimillion-dollar research consortium dedicated to the development of micro and nanotechnology applications to increase oil and gas production. The Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice University, which…

Salt Water Goes Fresh in El Paso

<< Return to ‘Edge of the Desert’… On Aug. 8, 2007, the largest inland desalination plant in the world opened in El Paso, Texas. Expected to provide 27.5 million gallons of freshwater to the growing population of El Paso, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant represents a burgeoning trend in the water community: desalinating salty,…

Touring Ancient Aquifers

<< Return to ‘Edge of the Desert’… Although the water supply is a decidedly modern topic, the study of water, like all environmental issues, can benefit from a geological perspective. Deep in the caves of Texas lies a valuable repository of water data—the history of water pathways through ancient aquifers. These data are important to…

Ian Duncan grew up on the edge of the desert. As a child in New South Wales, Australia, years would pass without rain, Duncan recalls. His family had to rely on artesian water—hot and salty groundwater—until rain would fall and collect in a tank on the roof of his family’s house. Growing up in this…

The most detailed three-dimensional seismic images yet of the Chicxulub crater, a mostly submerged and buried impact crater on the Mexico coast, may modify a theory explaining the extinction of 70 percent of life on Earth 65 million years ago. The Chicxulub crater was formed when an asteroid struck on the coast of the Yucatan…

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