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2014 In the News


CO2 and the History of Weighing Smoke

Officials from countries around the word have met for the last two weeks in Lima, Peru to talk global climate change.   At the heart of those talks is how to limit billions of tons of CO2 that are pumped into the atmosphere every year from coal burning power plants. But how do we keep track…

The deal that the U.S. and China have struck to curb carbon emissions has been hailed as a breakthrough by many concerned with climate change, and panned by politicians opposed to President Obama. But it’s also captured the interest of a group of researchers — some in Texas — who specialize in carbon capture and…

Safe and sensible

When state geologist Scott Tinker visited the Chronicle editorial board last week, he told us that industry regulators and professionals need to improve on the technique to further protect the environment. We agree. Houston Chronicle, December 8, 2014 Featuring: Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the Jackson School of Geosciences

Natural gas: The fracking fallacy

Production of natural gas in the United States is climbing rapidly, and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts long-term growth. But studies by the University of Texas (UT) challenge that forecast. The Texas team made forecasts for the four most productive shale-gas formations, or plays. Those forecasts suggest that gas production will peak soon and quickly drop, a much…

Stanley Rabke’s family has lived and worked on their Hill Country ranch since 1889. Generations of Rabkes have struggled with the extremes of Texas weather, but one storm sticks out in Stanley’s memory: it came after the drought of the 1950s. “It rained and rained and rained,” he says. “Back then we raised turkeys, we…

What are the best places to work in Central Texas? The Austin American-Statesman is helping answer that question. After surveys of more than 22,000 workers at 159 companies, the American-Statesman’s 2014 Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project narrowed it down to 100 Central Texas employers worthy of earning Top Workplaces designation. The Jackson School’s Bureau of…

James Austin, senior research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics, has been appointed to a new federal Ocean Exploration Advisory Board that will provide guidance to NOAA and the nation on the exploration of our ocean.

A sudden explosion of new life-forms hundreds of millions of years ago may have been triggered by a major tectonic shift, new research shows. About 530 million years ago, the Cambrian explosion brought a surge in new species to Earth, including most modern animal groups. Recent studies suggest that, during the Cambrian explosion, life evolved about…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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….

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…

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…

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…

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…

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’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:…

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, 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…

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

New 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…

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,…

“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….

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