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The University of Texas at Austin

2015 Media Releases


The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a $25,000 grant to fund a computational geosciences summer exchange program between the university and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico. The grant was funded by ExxonMobil and awarded through 100,000 Strong, an education initiative launched by President Barack Obama that seeks to…

Researchers have found that the water supply of the Colorado River basin, one of the most important sources for water in the southwestern United States, is influenced more by wet-dry periods than by human use, which has been fairly stable during the past few decades. The study, led by The University of Texas at Austin,…

Energy officials from across North America met at The University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology Dec. 2 and 3 to discuss how the United States, Canada and Mexico can collaborate to advance carbon capture and storage, a key technology to fight climate change and produce cleaner energy. “We’re really proud to host…

Research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that rock salt, used by Germany and the United States as a subsurface container for radioactive waste, might not be as impermeable as thought or as capable of isolating nuclear waste from groundwater in the event that a capsule or storage vessel failed. A team of…

Researchers for the first time have attempted to measure all the material leaving and entering a mountain range over more than a million years and discovered that erosion caused by glaciation during ice ages can, in the right circumstances, wear down mountains faster than plate tectonics can build them. The international study conducted by the…

Jackson School researcher Omar Ghattas and collaborators have won the 2015 ACM Gordon Bell Prize, super computing’s most prestigious prize, for a paper on high-performance modeling of the Earth’s mantle convection. The $10,000 award was presented to Ghattas and others on Nov. 19 at SC15, an international super computing conference held in Austin this year….

As part of the burgeoning cooperation between the United States and China over climate change, The University of Texas at Austin will host one of China’s top experts on carbon sequestration, a method to store carbon dioxide and fight climate change. Di Zhou of the the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences,…

In a finding that could change the way scientists think about bird evolution, researchers have found that the shape of bird wings is influenced more by how closely related species are to one another than by flight style. The research challenges scientific beliefs that assume the way a bird species flies—whether it primarily dives, glides…

To celebrate the upcoming Halloween holiday, the Jackson School will be sharing excerpts from the H.P. Lovecraft horror story “At the Mountains of Madness.” Science was a primary source of inspiration for the short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. From Einstein’s theory of relativity, to the anatomical drawings of Ernst Haeckel, smatterings of 20th century discoveries…

  Researchers have discovered a species of extinct pig-nose turtle that lived alongside dinosaurs and fills a gap in understanding the evolution of turtles. “Anatomically, it’s one of the most bizarre turtles that ever lived,” said Joshua Lively, who describes the species today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. “More importantly, it adds to a…

Banner Chosen as 2015 Kappe Lecturer

Jay Banner, a professor in The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences and director of the UT Austin Environmental Science Institute, has been selected to be the 2015 Kappe Lecturer by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists. This prestigious lectureship was endowed in 1989 to “share the knowledge of today’s…

Researchers have for the first time been able to measure a material’s resistance to fracturing from various types of tectonic motions in the Earth’s middle crust, a discovery that may lead to better understanding of how large earthquakes and slower moving events interact. The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG), research unit of the…

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found that a well-known period of abrupt climate change 12,000 years ago occurred rapidly in northern latitudes but much more gradually in equatorial regions, a discovery that could prove important for understanding and responding to future climate change. The research, published Sept. 2 in Nature Communications,…

Researchers for the first time have used seismic sensors to track meltwater flowing through glaciers and into the ocean, an essential step to understanding the future of the world’s largest glaciers as climate changes. The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) helped pioneer this new method on glaciers in Greenland and Alaska. The study…

Astronomers, scientists and those who dream of space are all eagerly watching as a NASA spacecraft flies three billion miles from Earth near the edges of our solar system. When New Horizons reaches its closest approach to Pluto, one Longhorn will have particular cause to celebrate the historic accomplishment: Alan Stern, the mission’s leader. Stern,…

Researchers have found that parts of the western Solomon Islands, a region thought to be free of large earthquakes until an 8.1 magnitude quake devastated the area in 2007, have a long history of big seismic events. The findings, published online in Nature Communications on Tuesday, suggest that future large earthquakes will occur, but predicting…

 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation authorizing funding of $4.47 million for the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program, an initiative led by the Bureau of Economic Geology — the State Geologic Survey of Texas — at The University of Texas at Austin. TexNet will enhance the ability of the State of Texas to gather information…

  The GeoFORCE program was officially recognized for winning the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring at an awards dinner hosted by the National Science Foundation on June 17. The award is presented by the White House to individuals and organizations that mentor academic and personal development of students studying science…

Memorial: Daniel Stephen Barker

Daniel Stephen Barker, the F.M. Bullard Professor of Geology Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, died May 21, 2015, in Austin. He was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, on February 27, 1934, the only child of Kenneth Watson Barker and Sadie Brown Barker. Raised in rural Maine, he was probably the last UT faculty…

A delegation of high-ranking public officials and oil and gas executives from Argentina visited The University of Texas at Austin on June 3 to share experiences and knowledge on how to safely and sustainably develop the country’s energy resources. The South American country holds the world’s second-largest technically recoverable shale gas reserves and the world’s…

When a NASA spacecraft sets off to explore Jupiter’s icy moon Europa to look for the ingredients of life, radar equipment designed to pierce the ice of Antarctica will be among the passengers. Ice-penetrating radar technology developed by The University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics (UTIG), a research unit of the Jackson School…

There’s likely to be more rain than normal throughout most of Texas this summer, according to a new forecasting method thought to be more accurate than traditional climate models for predicting summer rainfall across the state. The forecast, created by The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences and the Texas Water Development…

James Austin, a senior research scientist and associate director at The University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics (UTIG), has been selected as forum chair of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), a coalition of 26 countries dedicated to studying some of the planet’s most important environmental and earth science topics by sampling sub-seafloor…

University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) Professor and Jackson Chair in Applied Seismology Mrinal Sen has been awarded the place of Honorary Membership in the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). According to the SEG official website, the award of Honorary Membership “shall be conferred upon persons who, in the unanimous opinion of the Honors…

Katherine A. “Katie” Jackson, a teacher and Jackson School co-founder along with husband John “Jack” Jackson, and Munib Masri, a Palestinian businessman, statesman and philanthropist, were inducted into the hall by Dean Sharon Mosher on March 26, 2015, during a ceremony at the Jackson School’s Evening of Thanks. Induction is reserved to individuals who have…

Stephanie Wafforn’s voice was raspy from overuse as she described her research project yet again, as she had countless times this afternoon. But she was cheerful and animated as she explained her findings. Staying cheerful wasn’t hard, she said, because of her passion for the research. In fact, it was the opportunity to work on…

                                “I christen this boat the Research Vessel Scott Petty!” With these words—followed by the crack and spray of a bottle of champagne across the hull—the Jackson School of Geoscience’s new coastal research vessel was officially named by Scott and…

Jackson School undergraduate Taylor Canada, and recent graduate Tyler Fritz have been selected as interns at the National Association of Geoscience Teachers/U.S. Geological Survey Cooperative Summer Field Training Program. The program is selective and prestigious. Intern candidates must be newly graduated geoscience majors by the time of the internship, and must be nominated to the…

National Science Foundation (NSF) selected 35 students from The University of Texas at Austin for its prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships Program, giving UT Austin the 12th highest number of NSF graduate fellows in the country in 2015.   The NSF graduate fellowship program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics…

In research of significance to the world’s expanding coastal populations, scientists have found that geology and infrastructure play key roles in determining whether aquifers that provide drinking water are inundated with seawater during a typhoon or hurricane and how long the contamination lasts. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people…

An international research team is formalizing plans to drill nearly 5,000 feet below the seabed to take core samples from the crater of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. The group met last week in Merida, Mexico, a city within the nearly 125-mile-wide impact site, to explain the research plans and put out a…

President Barack Obama has honored The University of Texas at Austin’s GeoFORCE Texas program with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, the highest such honor from the United States government. GeoFORCE Texas, an outreach program of the university’s Jackson School of Geosciences, takes high school students from disadvantaged areas of…

Help provide virtual access to the Jackson School’s invertebrate paleontology collections, an amazing record of life from deep time.

AUSTIN, Texas — A new study suggests that increases in atmospheric CO2 could intensify extreme droughts in tropical and subtropical regions — such as Australia, the southwest and central United States, and southern Amazonia — at much a faster rate than previously anticipated, explains University of Texas at Austin professor Rong Fu in a commentary in…

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) in the Jackson School of Geosciences have discovered two seafloor gateways that could allow warm ocean water to reach the base of Totten Glacier, East Antarctica’s largest and most rapidly thinning glacier. The discovery, reported in the March 16 edition of the journal…

The University of Texas and Texas Tech. University are pleased to announce the inaugural North American Laser Ablation Workshop, to be held at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences on May 27-28, 2015. The workshop is vendor-neutral, and will consist of poster presentations, short talks with moderated discussion, and selected invited presentations. Vendors may submit posters,…

A new agreement between The University of Texas at Austin and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) will strengthen collaboration between UT’s Jackson School of Geosciences and its counterparts at UNAM in the fields of energy, environment and sustainability. The agreement focuses on academic research in the earth sciences and engineering. It highlights the…

On Feb. 7, 2015, the Graduate Student Executive Committee and ConocoPhillips hosted the 4th Annual Jackson School Research Symposium. More than 130 students presented research at this year’s event, which is patterned after an AGU-style poster competition. Faculty and research scientists served as judges. This year’s symposium had an impressive collection of research projects. The…

The Williston Basin in north central U.S. produced fewer earthquakes caused by wastewater injection than in Texas, suggesting the link between seismicity and production activities may vary by region, according to a new study published in the journal Seismological Research Letters (SRL). Ongoing since 1950s, petroleum and gas production in the Williston Basin, underlying parts of…

The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences and the Texas Water Development Board have published a study about early warming indicators of drought in Texas. The work may lead to a much better forecast of summer rainfall throughout the state. This is an important indicator of drought in Texas, because droughts can…

UT Energy Week Feb. 16-20

Think of the Sahara and you will conjure images of a vast desert landscape, with nothing but sand as far as the eye can see.  But for a period of about 10,000 years, the Sahara was characterized by lush, green vegetation and a network of lakes, rivers and deltas. This “green Sahara” occurred between 14,800…

  A new network of underground sensors in the Texas Hill Country will arm those responsible for managing the state’s finite water supply with vital information for determining the chances of drought and dangerous floods. The Texas Soil Observation Network (TxSON), run by the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin’s…

  Scientists using ice-penetrating radar data collected by NASA’s Operation IceBridge and earlier airborne campaigns have built the first comprehensive map of layers deep inside the Greenland Ice Sheet, opening a window on past climate conditions and the ice sheet’s potentially perilous future. This new map allows scientists to determine the age of large swaths…

Three Jackson School research projects made The University of Texas at Austin’s list of 16 amazing scientific breakthroughs for 2014. Researchers with the Texas Institute for Geophysics found that part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is not only being eroded by the ocean, it’s being melted from below by geothermal heat. The team included then…

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