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
So 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 Blog, San Antonio Express-News, StateImpact Texas/KUT-FM, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, August 27, 2013
Featuring: Cliff Frohlich
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.
Dallas 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 Times, Science World Report, et al., July 24, 2013