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2010 Releases & Features


Two Jackson School researchers are included in Discover Magazine‘s recap of the top 100 science stories of 2010: Paul Mann of the Institute for Geophysics appears in item No. 35 for his research on the Haitian earthquake zone. Jack Holt of the Institute appears in story No. 40 discussing his research on Mars’ polar ice cap….

Memorial: Stephen Clabaugh

The Jackson School community mourns the loss of emeritus professor Stephen Clabaugh and extend their condolences to his family. Clabaugh died Thursday, December 2 at the age of 92. He was born in Carthage, Texas to Edmund Cumberland Clabaugh and Cosette Hawthorn on April 2, 1918. He graduated from the University of Texas in Austin…

Thank you, Dean Mosher. It’s a great pleasure to share the stage with you today; and with Executive Vice-Chancellor Prior; with our colleagues on the faculty; and especially with my dear friend, whom I can proudly claim as a former student, Dr. Chernoff. Thanks to all of you for joining us in this celebration. First,…

An overlooked cause of the economic recession in the U.S. is a decade long decline in the quality of the nation’s energy supply, often measured as the amount of energy we get out for a given energy input, says energy expert Carey King of The University of Texas at Austin. Many economists have pointed to…

Geoscience Alums Profiled in Grad School Book

The Graduate School, which was established in 1910, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. In honor of the milestone, the school published a commemorative anniversary book titled “Changing the World: Stories Celebrating 100 Years of Graduate Education at The University of Texas at Austin” that profiles 100 alumni – including 4 from the Jackson School of Geosciences: Marcus…

CT Scans Revolutionize Fossil Preparation

The same year that Francis Whitney taught the university’s first paleontology course, 1909, the American Museum of Natural History in New York published a landmark paper titled “Modern laboratory methods in vertebrate paleontology.” Among other things, the article described best practices for fossil preparation, the art of removing fossils from the rock encasing them. When…

Jennifer Olori, a Ph.D. candidate in paleontology at the University of Texas at Austin has received the Romer Prize, an award for best student presentation, from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP). Olori studied fossils discovered in the Czech Republic of extinct salamander-like animals called microsaurs. Scientists once thought of microsaurs as being closely related…

Haiti Quake Risk May Still be High

Geologists studying the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake say the risk of destructive tsunamis is higher than expected in places such as Kingston, Istanbul, and Los Angeles. Like Haiti’s capital, these cities all lie near the coast and near an active geologic feature called a strike-slip fault where two tectonic plates slide past each other like…

A new species of dinosaur discovered in Arizona suggests dinosaurs did not spread throughout the world by overpowering other species, but by taking advantage of a natural catastrophe that wiped out their competitors. Tim Rowe, professor of paleontology at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, led the effort to describe the…

Meet Eleanour Snow

Even as a child, Eleanour Snow wanted to be a teacher. She got her doctorate in geology from Brown University and went straight into academia, teaching structural geology and mineralogy, and doing research in experimental mineral deformation, at the University of Arizona, and then the University of South Florida (USF). This was her dream job….

GeoFORCE Keeps Growing

GeoFORCE Texas, one of the nation’s largest geosciences pipeline programs, has just wrapped up its biggest summer of field trips ever. The program began in 2005 with 80 students from southwest Texas. In 2008, it expanded to include students from the Houston area. This past summer, nearly 600 students from the two regions fanned out…

Paleontologists have unearthed the first extinct penguin with preserved evidence of scales and feathers. The 36-million-year-old fossil from Peru shows the new giant penguin’s feathers were reddish brown and grey, distinct from the black tuxedoed look of living penguins. The new species, Inkayacu paracasensis, or Water King, was nearly five feet tall or about twice the…

Computational scientists and geophysicists at The University of Texas at Austin and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a new supercomputer model that for the first time produces an unprecedented view of plate tectonics and the forces that drive it. The paper, “The Dynamics of Plate Tectonics and Mantle Flow: From Local to…

Recently, there’s been a fair amount of interest and excitement about whether or not there is actually water on the moon. And it’s true, water has been detected on the moon’s surface through remote sensing. However, researchers at the University of New Mexico, UCLA, University of Texas at Austin and Los Alamos National Laboratory, have…

An international team of geoscientists has uncovered geological differences between two segments of an earthquake fault that may explain why the 2004 Sumatra Boxing Day Tsunami was so much more devastating than a second earthquake-generated tsunami three months later. This could help solve what was a lingering mystery for earthquake researchers. The quakes were caused…

The University of Texas at Austin will receive up to $19 million from the U.S. Department of Energy and NRG Energy to design and oversee a monitoring plan for a carbon capture and storage demonstration project in southeast Texas. The project will demonstrate advanced technology to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2)…

Scientists have reconstructed the formation of two curious features in the northern ice cap of Mars—a chasm larger than the Grand Canyon and a series of spiral troughs—solving a pair of mysteries dating back four decades while finding new evidence of climate change on Mars. In a pair of papers to be published in the…

By: Mark Airhart When he enrolled as a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Austin, Charles “Chuck” Williamson (Ph.D. ’78) planned to become a geology professor. Instead, when he graduated, he went to work as a researcher for California-based oil company Unocal. Over time, his interest in the oil industry grew far beyond…

The worsening deepwater oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico coast is the topic of a public briefing and discussion by several university experts in petroleum engineering, geology, law, business and environment Tuesday, May 18, sponsored by the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. The 10 a.m. (CDT) program in the auditorium…

Cut the Clutter

Interpreting what’s below the surface of Mars is no easy task. There are many potential sources of noise in radar data received by the Shallow Subsurface Radar instrument onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The prime troublemaker is surface clutter, which occurs when some of the waves reflect from surface features off to the side of…

Separated at Birth

It turns out that the newly discovered deposits of water ice on Mars, called lobate debris aprons, are very similar to rock covered glaciers in Antarctica. In 2000, Jack Holt and Don Blankenship, also an ice sheet expert at the Institute, were in Antarctica testing a new radar developed by NASA as a prototype for…

Scientists reviewing images of the surface of Mars transmitted to Earth by the Viking orbiters in the 1970s were puzzled by mountains and cliffs surrounded by gently sloping deposits of rocky material. In some cases these deposits, called lobate aprons, extend tens of miles. For three decades, scientists have debated how these features formed and…

World’s Deepest Hydrothermal Vents

On April 6, scientists on a Caribbean expedition discovered the world’s deepest known hydrothermal vents, also known as black smokers. The vents are located in the Cayman Trough, the world’s deepest undersea volcanic rift, running across the seafloor between the Cayman islands and Jamaica. Watch the video: First images of the world’s deepest known black…

A Tradition of Training Astronauts

For more than half his life, Bill Muehlberger has trained astronauts. He started in 1964 when he took a group of Apollo astronauts to the Marathon Basin in West Texas for a geological field trip. Later, he was asked to be principal investigator for Apollo 16 and 17, the final two manned missions to the…

Fly Me to the Moon

Mark Helper looked out the windshield of his pressurized lunar rover at a gray otherworldly landscape that stretched in every direction as far as he could see. With time running short, he and his teammate drove on across the rubble strewn floor of a vast impact crater. They stopped and Helper used the vehicle’s robotic…

Audio Slideshow: Fly Me to the Moon

Responding to challenges to the hypothesis that an asteroid impact caused a mass extinction on Earth 65 million years ago, a panel of 41 scientists re-analyzed data and provided new evidence, concluding that an impact in Mexico was indeed the cause of the mass extinction. Thirty years ago, Luis Alvarez, Jan Smit and their coworkers…

For eight weeks beginning in November 2009, off the coast of New Zealand, an international team of 34 scientists, 92 support staff and crew, and 1 teacher on board the scientific drilling vessel JOIDES Resolution (JR) were at work investigating sea-level change in a region called the Canterbury Basin. It proved to be a record-breaking…

Paleontologists announced the discovery of a dinosaur-like animal—one that shared many characteristics with dinosaurs but fell just outside of the dinosaur family tree—living 10 million years earlier than the oldest known dinosaurs. The researchers conclude that dinosaurs and other close relatives such as pterosaurs (flying reptiles) might have also lived much earlier than previously thought….

As an undergraduate at Stanford University, Emily Grubert discovered her passion in studying climate change and energy. She also discovered that the deeper she gets into the work, the broader it becomes. “I look at climate change and because energy is important to climate change I look at energy,” she said, “and then because land…

To help assess the potential threat of more large earthquakes in Haiti and nearby areas, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics are co-leading three expeditions to the country with colleagues from Purdue University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the U.S. Geological Survey and five other institutions. Rapid response missions can be critical…

Two groundbreaking papers—one in last week’s journal Nature and the other in this week’s journal Science—have for the first time revealed the true colors of dinosaur feathers. Now it’s possible to illustrate what some dinosaurs looked like without having to guess. The first team identified colors in isolated spots on several dinosaurs. The second team,…

Seismology of Haiti Earthquake

(last update: Feb. 23) Full list of online and downloadable resources. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck near Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince at 4:53 p.m. local time on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. Paul Mann has received many requests from the media for information about the seismology of Haiti. Mann…

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