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Doug LawsonNobody 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


Svalex Norway TripTake 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


Effects of Drought on Amazon Rainforest Vegetation GreennessThe 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 PostUPIClimate News NetworkScience World ReportRed Orbit, October 21-22, 2013
Featuring: Rong Fu


Antarctic Permafrost in the McMurdo Dry ValleysJoseph 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.
NYTimesKUT-FMAustin American-Statesman, October 15-16, 2013
Featuring: Joseph Levy


SunlightVariations 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


Eagle Ford Shale MapSo much oil and water is being removed from South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale that the activity has probably led to a recent wave of small earthquakes, according to a study that appears in the online edition of the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The peer-reviewed study’s authors suggest that taking oil and water out of the ground allows surrounding rock and sand to settle, triggering small tremors that are typically too weak to be noticed on the surface.

Wall Street Journal, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle’s FuelFix BlogSan Antonio Express-NewsStateImpact Texas/KUT-FM, The AtlanticBloomberg, August 27, 2013
Featuring: Cliff Frohlich


Europa from Galileo Spacecraft

SciGuy Blog (Houston Chronicle), August 7, 2013 & Austin American-Statesman, September 8, 2013
Featuring: Don Blankenship

For the first time scientists have done a complete study of a possible Europa lander mission. The work will be reported in the journal Astrobiology. I had the opportunity to speak with Don Blankenship, a University of Texas geophysicist who is obsessed with Europa as much as I am, and perhaps more, about the clipper and lander proposals. He had a hand in authoring both of them.


Scott HamlinDallas Morning News, July 25, 2013
Featuring: Scott Hamlin

Pioneer Natural Resources, one of the country’s largest independent oil and gas firms, is estimating the recoverable oil in a single field in West Texas’ Permian Basin at 50 billion barrels of oil and gas. At almost twice the estimated reserves in the Eagle Ford, that would make the field, named the Spraberry/Wolfcamp, the largest in the country and the second-largest in the world behind the Ghawar in Saudi Arabia.

Oil was first discovered in what was then known as the Spraberry in the 1940s but had always produced at “relatively low levels,” said Scott Hamlin, a researcher with the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas. “That’s changed in the last three years,” he said. “With the development of increasingly efficient techniques, they were able to produce rocks that were previously not producible, like the Eagle Ford.”


Antarctica’s Dry Valleys are home to the oldest ice on Earth. The first signs of the massive thaw disturbing the Arctic’s frozen ground have now appeared in one of these valleys, melting a glacier buried since the last Ice Age.

Time, Yahoo News-Live Science, Los Angeles TimesScience World Report, et al., July 24, 2013


Switch Movie PosterForbes, July 16, 2013
Featuring: Scott Tinker

Last night, I watched the documentary “Switch,” narrated by Scott Tinker, a University of Texas professor and head of the Bureau of Economic Geology. Unlike “Gasland Part II,” the sensationalist all-fossil-fuels-are-bad screed that you’re likely to hear more about this summer, “Switch” offers a scientific look at how we use energy and how difficult it’s going to be to move away from fossil fuel. It also drives home the point that weaning ourselves from oil and coal in the U.S. is essential.

While coal is cheap and abundant, it’s dirty, and “clean coal” technology simply isn’t economically viable. “We probably could make coal clean,” Tinker says, “but we probably can’t afford to.”


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