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2014 In the News


PHOTO BY U.S. COAST GUARD

Ever since an explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore rig in 2010 released about five million of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, researchers have been trying to figure out where much of the oil ended up. A new study is offering some answers.

State Impact, October 28, 2014

U.S. News and World Report, ABC News, October 27, 2014

Featuring Burch Fisher, postdoctoral fellow, Jackson School of Geosciences


Shallow-water acreage will be first up on the menu of E&P blocks being offered by Mexico following the country’s historic decision to deregulate its oil and gas industry, according to plans presented by Mexico’s top energy officials this week.

Hart Energy, October 22, 2014

Featuring: Jorge Piñon, director of the Latin America and Caribbean Energy Program at the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences


Credit: USGS

The University of Texas at Austin has won $58 million to investigate a potentially massive energy resource: methane trapped in ice-like crystals under the Gulf of Mexico and oceans around the world.

The Department of Energy is providing $41.2 million toward the grant, one of the largest government grants ever awarded to the university, with the rest coming from industry and research partners.

The university plans to use the funding to harvest and analyze core samples of methane hydrate from sandstone reservoirs thousands of feet under the Gulf – the first time the deposits have been retrieved from U.S. waters.

Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, October 22, 2014

Featuring: Peter Flemings, professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics


Current computer models may have overestimated expected future levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, according to research released today.

And the models may need to be corrected to accurately predict the ramifications of climate change.

The scientists say current forecasts don’t account for the slow diffusion of atmospheric CO2 inside plant leaves and underestimate the contribution of increasing CO2 to plant growth by as much as 16%.

Business Insider Australia, October 14, 2014

Featuring: Robert Dickinson, professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences


Research done at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas has cleared fracking of one of the most serious allegations leveled against it by environmentalists who oppose the practice – that it uses a disproportionate amount of water and risks depleting water sources for agricultural and residential users, especially in already water-challenged south Texas.

But researcher Dr. Bridget Scanlon tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI that claim is not true.

“The water used to produce oil using hydraulic fracturing is similar to the water used in the U.S. to produce oil using conventional techniques,” she said.

WOAI, October 6, 2014

Featuring: Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences


The subglacial “plumbing system” beneath Greenland is slowing the ice sheet’s movement toward the sea as the summer progresses, according to new research.

“Everyone wants to know what’s happening under Greenland as it experiences more and more melt,” study co-author Ginny Catania, a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, said in a statement. “This subglacial plumbing may or may not be critical for sea level rise in the next 100 years, but we don’t really know until we fully understand it.”

Nature World News, October 6, 2014

Featuring: Lauren Andrews, Ph.D. candidate, and Ginny Catania, research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics and associate professor in the Jackson School of Geosciences


At a meeting just miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, Texas legislators heard a range of benefits their state can look forward to as Mexico remakes its energy sector – and also a stiff warning that capturing the windfall won’t be easy.

Over the past year, the Mexican government has approved a historical overhaul opening its energy industry to private investment after decades as a state-owned monopoly.

Houston Chronicle, Sept. 28, 2014

Featuring: Jorge Piñon, director of the Latin America and Caribbean Energy Program at the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences


Central Texas is having a pretty decent year, rain-wise. We’re sitting just below normal. And it’s been a good week, too: early Thursday, one part of Austin got over seven inches of rain.

So much rain fell over downtown Austin that the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan along Lady Bird Lake looked like he was walking on water. It brought back memories of the Halloween floods last fall — back then Stevie was standing in water waist-deep. But these big rain events all have something in common: They really haven’t fallen where we need them most.

NPR’s StateImpact Texas, September 19, 2014

Featuring: Michael Young, associate director of environmental systems at the University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology in the Jackson School of Geosciences


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas has selected William Fisher, inaugural dean of UT-Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, to receive its Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award for 2014-2015. The award is the highest recognition the College bestows upon its graduates.


UT Professor Zong-Liang Yang was at a conference on extreme weather in the Netherlands. It was 2012, just one year after the worst single-year drought in Texas history. When it came to discussing extreme weather, Texas seemed like a good place to be.  He suggested to colleagues that their next conference should take place in the Lone Star State. Two years later, he and dozens of some of the world’s leading climate experts from 10 different countries have descended upon UT-Austin to talk about improving our ability to forecast and prepare for extreme weather.

StateImpact Texas (KUT/NPR), Sept. 9, 2014

Featuring:

Zong-Liang Yang, professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and director of the Center for Integrated Earth System Science

Michael Young, associate director for Environmental Systems and senior research scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology


The Mexican Congress approved a massive overhaul of the country’s energy industry that will open it up to international oil companies and allow competition in Mexico’s stagnant energy sector. The legislation is part of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s plan to improve the country’s economy.

New York Times, Aug. 6, 2014

Featuring: Jorge Pinon


Chile Energy Minister Máximo Pacheco Matte

Chile’s energy sector is focusing its efforts on developing renewables, with a goal of meeting 20 percent of the country’s power needs with renewable energy by 2025. Chile Energy Minister Máximo Pacheco Matte discussed the issue at an event sponsored by the University of Texas-Austin Latin America and Caribbean Program.

Houston Chronicle, July 2, 2014

Featuring: Jorge Pinon


By day, Phil Bennett is a geology professor in the Jackson School of Geosciences. But he’s always on call as a volunteer with Travis County Search and Rescue.

Alcalde, April 28, 2014


Dr. Suzanne Pierce

Dr. Suzanne Pierce

Dr. Suzanne Pierce, Assistant Professor of Research, has won an award from the Sustainability Course Development and PLUS Awards Program to convert her Decision Pathways course to a Peer-Led Undergraduate Studying (PLUS) model.

The Sustainability Course Development and PLUS Awards competition is designed to incentivize the development of new sustainability courses or course conversions to a Peer-Led Undergraduate Studying (PLUS) model. To be eligible for either award, a course must address issues related to sustainability and fulfill the requirements for one or more flags.


The winner of the William Smith Medal, Martin Jackson, delivers a talk on the “Origin and Evolution of Allochthonous Salt Sheets”.


Colored dinoNew research points to an explosion of color in early paravians and maniraptors, but the research also suggests the genes that control the colors of skin, hair and feathers are part of the body’s melanocortin system, which also influences metabolism, inflammation and sexual function. “We hypothesize,” says Clarke, “that what we’re seeing is a big physiological shift in dinosaurs, a change that has other implications than just the color of feathers.”

Time, Feb. 12, 2014


Researchers at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, who earlier released a comprehensive study of the Barnett Shale, on Thursday said they estimate the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas has about 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that can be recovered with current technology.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jan. 10, 2014


Scott Tinker, Director, Bureau of Economic Geology

Scott Tinker, Director, Bureau of Economic Geology

“Earlier this year, the government shutdown stalled two crucial policy decisions in the United States involving the movement of energy: the Keystone pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals. Rather than allow extreme arguments to dominate, Americans should demand lawmakers move toward the radical middle on both of these vital issues.”

Austin American-Statesman, Jan. 7, 2014
Featuring: Scott Tinker


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