Shale has the spotlight for now. But there’s another, lesser-known substance with the potential to yield even greater quantities of natural gas: methane hydrate. “A lot of geoscientists are fascinated by hydrates because of how odd it is that you can take methane gas and add water and have it result in something with such a concentrated store of energy,” said Peter Flemings, a member of the Energy Department’s methane hydrate advisory committee and professor at the University of Texas (Austin).
National Journal (Canada), Dec. 24, 2013
Featuring: Peter Flemings
While criticized as a water-intensive technique for producing oil and natural gas, hydraulic fracturing ultimately cuts overall water use in Texas and makes the state less vulnerable to drought, according to a new study from the University of Texas at Austin. “The bottom line is that hydraulic fracturing, by boosting natural gas production and moving the state from water-intensive coal technologies, makes our electric power system more drought resilient,” said Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist for the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology.
FuelFix (Houston Chronicle), December 20, 2013
Featuring: Bridget Scanlon
Hurricane Sandy last year did more harm to coastal cities and homes than any hurricane in U.S. history, except Katrina. Most of that damage has been repaired. But there’s other damage that people can’t see to the underwater coastline, known as the shoreface. Apparently, Long Island’s shoreface did remarkably well against the storm of the 21st century.
National Public Radio (NPR), RedOrbit, Dec. 11, 2013
Featuring: John Goff, Jamie Austin, Institute for Geophysics
Currents and circulation patterns in the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa may create heat and energy capable of sustaining life, U.S. scientists say. U.S. and German researchers have used magnetometer data and observations of Europa’s icy surface to reveal oceanic conditions below the ice. Regions of disrupted ice on the surface, known as chaos terrains, could result from convection in Europa’s ice shell, they said.
UPI, New Scientist, Discovery News, French Tribune, Tehran Times, io9, Nature World News, et al.
Featuring: Krista Soderlund, Don Blankenship, Britney Schmidt
A cluster of 18 small earthquakes in western Texas was likely triggered by the injection of carbon dioxide into oil wells, according to a study published Monday in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study is the first to link carbon dioxide injections to actual earthquakes, and may help scientists evaluate the risks of storing greenhouse gas emissions deep underground, a fledgling technology for managing climate change known as geologic carbon sequestration.
National Geographic, Nature, Fuel Fix Blog (Houston Chronicle), Climate Central/Huffington Post, LiveScience, AFP, Reuters, Environment & Energy Publishing, The Australian, and Dallas Observer (blog)
Featuring: Cliff Frohlich
Nobody had any idea just how gigantic a pterosaur could be until the spring of 1971. Douglas A. Lawson, MA ’72, was a 22-year-old graduate student in geology that year working under the supervision of professor Wann Langston. Lawson announced the discovery of his pterosaur in a 1975 article in Science. In that pre-Jurassic Park era, when public fascination with paleontology was at a slow burn, he encountered an unexpected micro-burst of celebrity. He was getting ready to give a lecture at UT’s Thompson Conference Center on the paleoecology of the Late Cretaceous in Big Bend when he noticed something strange: reporters and TV crews were lining the walls of the conference room.
Alcalde, Nov. 1, 2013
Featuring: Wann Langston, Doug Lawson
Take the trip of a lifetime in this interactive online feature from the Alcalde magazine. The feature follows dozens of UT Austin geology and petroleum engineering students to Svalbard, Norway for a field trip hosted by Statoil.
Alcalde Magazine, November/December 2013
Featuring: Scott Tinker, Ron Steel, Daniel Stockli, Rong Fu, Isaac Smith
The Amazon rain forest’s dry season lasts three weeks longer than it did 30 years ago, and the likely culprit is global warming, according to a new study by Rong Fu and her colleagues. The new findings forecast a more parched future for the Amazon rain forest than the climate report released last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the study authors said.
LiveScience, Huffington Post, UPI, Climate News Network, Science World Report, Red Orbit, October 21-22, 2013
Featuring: Rong Fu
Joseph Levy was preparing for a season of scientific research in Antarctica last week when he got the call: Stand down. Dr. Levy, a research associate at UT Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, is studying the climate history of the dry valleys of Antarctica by analyzing buried ice sheets that have been frozen since the last ice age and are beginning to thaw.
NYTimes, KUT-FM, Austin American-Statesman, October 15-16, 2013
Featuring: Joseph Levy
Variations in the rate of global warming since the 1970s were not caused by atmospheric changes that affect how much solar radiation reaches the Earth’s surface, a new study says.Over the past century, rising greenhouse gas levels have caused global average temperatures to increase, climate scientists Kaicun Wang and Robert Dickinson write in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.
Australian Broadcasting Corp., August 27, 2013
Featuring: Robert Dickinson