Research

From the Core to the Cosmos

Geochemistry/Thermo- & Geo-chronology

Researchers in this area use geochemical tracers to reconstruct the thermal history of rocks; characterize ancient environments and climates; reveal the interactions between climate, soils, and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels; and decipher fluid-rock interactions and mestasomatism at high temperature, relationships between metamorphic processes and deformation, and volatile transport in subduction zones to aid in quantifying geochemical cycles.


Our major research areas & groups in geochemistry include:

  • Major & Trace Element Geochemistry
  • Stable Isotope Geochemistry
  • Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry
  • Aqueous & Microbial Geochemistry
  • Gas Geochemistry
  • Organic Geochemistry
  • Thermo- & Geo-chronology

We offer numerous analytical services in isotopic geochemistry to customers outside the university. For a list of services and contacts, visit: Analytical Services in Isotope Geochemistry

Faculty & Research Scientists

Jay L BannerJay L Banner
Isotopic methods, groundwater, oceans, ancient oceans, climate change, aquifers, caves, environmental science, geochemistry, paleoclimatology
Jaime D BarnesJaime D Barnes
Stable isotope geochemistry, metamorphism and volatile transport in subduction zones, fluid-rock interaction and metasomatism, geochemical cycling, stable chlorine isotopes
Whitney  BehrWhitney Behr
Mechanics and kinematics of deformation in continental lithosphere, rheology of the crust and upper mantle, mechanisms of strain localization, experimental rock mechanics, tectonic geomorphology and long term slip rates and hazard on large-scale strike-slip faults.
Philip C BennettPhilip C Bennett
Aqueous geochemistry, geomicrobiology, environmental and microbial geochemistry, hydrogeology
Daniel O BreeckerDaniel O Breecker
Soil biogeochemistry, calcic soils, stable isotope geochemistry
Elizabeth J CatlosElizabeth J Catlos
My primary research focus is [bold]geochemistry[/bold], and how the fundamentals of chemistry (mineral reactions, radiogenic and stable isotopes, major and trace elements) can be and are used to understand what the Earth was like in the past. In this, I have interests that span a broad range of range of plate boundary processes and laboratory approaches. Many ancient fault systems are clues to determine the evolution and migration of Earth's continents in the ...
Jacob A CovaultJacob A Covault
sedimentology, stratigraphy, marine geology
Ian J DuncanIan J Duncan
Expertise in geomechanic and geochemistry applied to: risks associated with CO2 sequestration; hydraulic fracturing for shale gas production; environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing; and the water-energy nexus. Current research focuses on the scientific, environmental and public policy aspects of unconventional natural gas production, the water-energy nexus, and carbon capture and storage. He has a particular interest in risk analysis, decision making, and legal/regulatory issues related to fracing, CO2 sequestration, CO2-EOR, and energy production.
Peter  EichhublPeter Eichhubl
Fault and fracture mechanics, diagenesis and low-temp. geochemistry, fluid flow and transfer processes in sedimentary basins, deformation mechanisms of the upper crust, structural control of mass and heat transfer in sedimentary basins, effects of chemical mass transfer on the mechanical and hydraulic behavior of fractures and faults, chemical interaction between fluids and minerals
Brent Elliott
Andras  FallAndras Fall
Fluids in diagenetic and hydrothermal systems, Fluid inclusions, Fractures, Structural diagenesis
James E GardnerJames E Gardner
Volcanology, volcanic eruption processes, magmatic processes, experimental petrology, volatiles in magmas, degassing of volatiles from magmas, control of degassing behavior on volcanic eruptions and formation of ore bodies
Scarlette  HsiaScarlette Hsia
Richard A KetchamRichard A Ketcham
High-resolution X-ray computed tomography, CT scanning, 3D image analysis, fission-track dating, thermochronology, structural geology, tectonics, digital morphology, trabecular bone
J. Richard KyleJ. Richard Kyle
Ore deposits geology, strata-controlled mineral resources, metals & industrial minerals exploration, ore petrology, characterization of ore-forming fluids, high resolution X-ray computed tomography applications to ore genesis & processing, geology of energy critical elements, resources & society, geology & mineral resources of Texas
Toti E LarsonToti E Larson
John C LassiterJohn C Lassiter
Earth's origin and evolution, isotope and trace element geochemistry, the role of crust and lithospheric mantle recycling in the generation of mantle chemical heterogeneity, the origin and distribution of water and other volatile elements in the Earth's interior, and the thermal and chemical evolution of the Earth's core and core/mantle boundary
James L Maner
Isotope geochemistry, Geochemistry, Experimental petrology, Igneous petrology, Metamorphic petrology, Electron microbeam, Secondary ion mass spectrometry
Jean-Philippe NicotJean-Philippe Nicot
Subsurface hydrology, numerical modeling and optimization of groundwater resources, multiphase flow and contaminant transport in both the unsaturated and saturated zones, geochemistry modeling and subsurface reactive transport, Mathematical geology, geostatistics, inverse modeling, optimization, risk assessment and risk analysis
Hilary C OlsonHilary C Olson
Biostratigraphic and paleoenvironmental analysis of foraminifera
Terrence M QuinnTerrence M Quinn
Paleoclimate, climate, climate change, climate dynamics, paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, sedimentary geology and geochemistry
Katherine D RomanakKatherine D Romanak
Geochemistry and isotope systematics of carbon cycling in the vadose zone and in freshwater aquifers; soil-gas monitoring and surface gas flux measurements at CO2 sequestration sites; microbial influences on carbon geochemistry in the shallow subsurface; fate and transport of organic contaminants.
Timothy M ShanahanTimothy M Shanahan
Paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, paleolimnology, sedimentary geology and geochemistry, organic geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, compound-specific stable isotope analysis
Daniel  StockliDaniel Stockli
Thermo-/Geochronology, Tectonics and Structural Geology, Isotopic Provenance Analysis, Archeometry, Geothermal Exploration, and Thermal Maturation
Matthew M UlianaMatthew M Uliana
Water resources, low-temperature aqueous geochemistry, groundwater modeling

Postdoctoral Researchers

Nicholas J DygertNicholas J Dygert
I utilize [bold]field studies[/bold], [bold]numerical models[/bold], [bold]experimental petrology[/bold], and [bold]rock deformation experiments[/bold] to better understand the physicochemical evolution of the lunar and terrestrial mantles.
George B FisherGeorge B Fisher
Tectonic and Fluvial Geomorphology, Cosmogenic and Fallout Radionuclides, Remote Sensing, Spatial Analyses
Timothy  GallagherTimothy Gallagher
Soil Biogeochemistry, Paleosols, Terrestrial Paleoclimate
Federico Galster
Tectonic; Geochronology, Stratigraphy, Biochronology
Lei Jiang
Carbonate Geochemistry and Reservoir
Christopher  LoweryChristopher Lowery
Micropaleontology, Stratigraphy, Paleoceanography, Geochemistry
Stephen C PhillipsStephen C Phillips
methane hydrates, sediment biogeochemistry, environmental magnetism, paleoceanography

Adjunct/Emeritus Faculty​ & Research Scientists

William D CarlsonWilliam D Carlson
Field, analytical, and experimental studies of metamorphic petrogenesis, with emphasis on the rates and mechanisms of metamorphic reactions. Geological applications of high-resolution X-ray computed tomography. Analytical and computational studies of intracrystalline and intergranular diffusion.
Douglas  SmithDouglas Smith
Research on mantle evolution using tools of mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry.

Research Staff

Rudra N Chatterjee
Heather Christensen
Staci L LoewyStaci L Loewy
Nathaniel R MillerNathaniel R Miller
Sedimentary geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, Earth system evolution, Q-ICP-MS, microanalytics, GIS, Neoproterozoic climate
Douglas  SmithDouglas Smith
Research on mantle evolution using tools of mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry.
Lisa D Stockli
U-Pb Geochronology and trace element analysis by LA-ICP-MS; TIMS and SIMS techniques;

Graduate Students

Patrick Boyd
Leslie  BruceLeslie Bruce
Kristina  ButlerKristina Butler
Owen A CallahanOwen A Callahan
I investigate fluid flow in faults and fractures, specifically the interplay between hydrothermal alteration, mechanical deformation, and conduit evolution in high temperature hydrothermal systems, using field observation, petrographic characterization, and experimental rock mechanics.
Tomas N CapaldiTomas N Capaldi
I am a fourth year PhD student, focusing on Cenozoic to modern tectonic evolution of the flat-slab region in western Argentina. I study modern river networks using zircon U-Pb chronology to assess what factors are represented by sand provenance, such as: drainage area, variable erodibility, and zircon fertility of different source rocks. I use the modern river provenance as a baseline to reconstruct Cenozoic paleo-drainages during Andean mountain building and to differentiate the timing of ...
Peter E CarlsonPeter E Carlson
Stalagmites that grow near the entrances of caves are often avoided for the purposes of paleoclimate reconstruction, due to worries about fluctuating atmospheric conditions and microbiological influences interfering with calcite growth dynamics. I study how these near-entrance stalagmites might serve as high-resolution records of surface temperature. I am investigating temperatures recorded in the oxygen-isotope, trace element, and clumped-isotope compositions of a near-entrance stalagmite from Westcave Preserve in central Texas. I have also been monitoring active ...
Miguel  CisnerosMiguel Cisneros
My research combines a broad range of disciplines, including geochemistry, structural geology, petrology, and chronology, to understand how high-pressure rocks from the Mediterranean are exhumed to the surface. I consider myself a stable isotope geochemist who applies multiple techniques to understand large-scale tectonic problems including volatile sourcing and fluid flow in subduction zones, and exhumation of high-pressure rocks.
Emily CooperdockEmily Cooperdock
Research Interests: Method development for (U-Th)/He analysis; Fe-oxide (U-Th)/He dating; X-Ray Computed Tomography application to geologic samples; timing of serpentinization in tectonic processes; trace element cycling during serpentinization; magnetite formation; U and Th partitioning during metamorphism
Scott A EckleyScott A Eckley
I am interested in the evolution of the terrestrial bodies, specifically the Earth, Moon, Mars, and Vesta.
Thomas M EtzelThomas M Etzel
Broadly speaking my research interests include metamorphic petrology, isotope geochemistry, and lithosphere dynamics. Currently I am studying the tectonic evolution of western Turkey, specifically the Menderes Massif. One component of this work involves using recent advancements in garnet geothermobarometry to construct detailed P-T paths. Another component of this work will involve dating garnets using the Lu-Hf system. Combined, I hope to produce high resolution P-T-t paths that will improve our understanding of the tectonometamorphic history ...
Megan E Flansburg
I am currently pursuing my M.S. with Dr. Daniel Stockli (UT) with committee members Dr. Konstantinos Soukis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens) and Dr. Whitney Behr (UT). My research aims to determine the structural history of Ios Island in the southern Greek Cyclades. The southern Cyclades can provide key information to understanding the development of the Aegean microplate during Cenozoic subduction of the African slab. With geo- and low-temperature thermochronometric techniques and detailed ...
Sarah  GeorgeSarah George
My research focuses on elucidating the timing and mechanisms of shortening, exhumation, and basin evolution in the Eastern Cordillera of northern Peru and Ecuador. By integrating U-Pb geochronology and measured sections from Cenozoic hinterland basins with (U-Th)/He thermochronology and mapping on uplifted Mesozoic and basement units, I will provide a detailed chronology of the uplifts that link the Northern and Central Andes.
Peter O Gold
Two primary goals motive my dissertation research. The first is to measure rates of slip and earthquake recurrence on faults within the southern San Andreas Fault system in southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. The value of these measurements is both academic and practical – determining how slip is partitioned between multiple parallel or overlapping faults is critical for understanding strain accommodation though complex fault systems, which is in turn necessary for making well informed ...
Adam S Goldsmith
Understanding the role of radiation damage on helium diffusion kinetics in zircon through the characterization of alpha-radiation damage by Raman spectroscopy a la Nasdala, et al 1995,2001,2004.
Kiara Gomez
Jacob S Jordan
As a numeric geoscientist, I find myself fascinated by a litany of topics: particularly those associated with the genesis, reactive transport and extraction of molten rock. Also why is Kanye’s verse in 2-Chainz Birthday Song is so bad. Is he joking or something? Does he actually think that those leather pants are cool? As a curious and enthusiastic academic, I hope to shed light onto these topics, and contribute to answering other such questions ...
Cullen D Kortyna
I am interested in the routing of sediment from its erosional source to depositional sink. To investigate this, I use a combination of geo/thermochronologic and sedimentological/stratigraphic methods. Source-to-sink studies are important as a method for understanding landscape evolution, and investigating tectonic and climatic controls on sediment transport and delivery from source to basin.
Chelsea Mackaman-Lofland
My research focuses on the structural and tectonic evolution of the Argentine Andes. I will be using a combination of structural analysis and thermochronometry to provide modern age constraints for deformation and exhumation events in the Frontal and Pre-Cordillera. Ultimately, this work seeks to relate observed crustal shortening and related age constraints to the structures observed at depth (significantly, at the transition from normal to flat-slab subduction) in order to better characterize the mechanisms that ...
Edward W Marshall
I am a high-temperature geochemist studying the Colorado Plateau lithospheric mantle. I use stable isotopes (O,H), radiogenic isotopes (Sr, Nd, Hf, Os), nominally anhydrous mineral water contents, and platinum group element concentrations as my tools to learn more about the mantle. I use these techniques to learn about the lithospheric mantle and make inferences about the construction of Laurentia, elemental cycling within subduction zones, changes to continent stability, and mantle processes. To collect these ...
Colin J McNeeceColin J McNeece
I am a Ph.D. candidate in geological sciences at UT Austin. My research is in reactive transport modeling, a field that sits on the interface of fluid mechanics and geochemistry. My work couples theory and experiments to understand fundamental controls on transport behavior in natural settings.
Ian H Moede
Margaret OdlumMargaret Odlum
My research focuses on tectonic inversion in the Pyrenees mountains of Spain and France. I am using multi-mineral geo- and thermochronology to study the rift and inversion evolution in the eastern Pyrenees and how inherited rift architecture controlled the early orogenic deformation and incipient foreland basin evolution and sediment routing systems.
Andrew  ParisiAndrew Parisi
I'm currently working on a project where I'm determining the age of formation of two impact structures, Ames Astrobleme in Oklahoma and Slate Islands in Ontario Canada. It is thought that both of these were formed during the mid-Ordovician. If true, this means they would be part of the Ordovician Meteor Event. The OME was a drastic increase in the amount of meteors hitting the Earth from roughly 470 Ma to 450 MA, and would have left ...
Eirini M Poulaki
Edgardo J PujolsEdgardo J Pujols
My main expertise and research centers on quantifying the temporal aspects and interplay between hinterland deformation and basin evolution. For the past years (both my M.S. and Ph.D. thesis research), my studies have focus on the intricate dynamic processes linking basin evolution and large-scale tectonics combining conventional field techniques and extensive laboratory work. My M.S. research at the University of Kansas investigated the timing and linkages of normal faulting and its influence ...
Sebastian  Ramiro RamirezSebastian Ramiro Ramirez
Sebastian started his PhD program at UT in 2016. He is interested in petrographic, geochemical and petrophysical studies of mudrocks, and is currently working on porosity and permeability experiments in the Wolfcamp and Bone Spring formations, Delaware Basin.
Evan J RamosEvan J Ramos
I am a first-year PhD student whose research focuses on the thermodynamics of mass and heat transfer during fluid-rock interactions and the geochemical and petrologic records associated with these processes. My Master's thesis incorporated various techniques including numerical modeling, stable isotope geochemistry, and geochronology to understand the nature of fluid flow during the formation of a Sierran skarn. The overarching goal of this research was to quantify the amount and rate of CO2 production during ...
Natasha Sekhon
Paleoclimatology & Isotopic Geochemistry
Lily R Serach
Murat  TamerMurat Tamer
Fission Track Dating Method
Kelly D Thomson
Alison TuneAlison Tune

General Theory

GEO 376C/388L Isotope Geology (taught each Fall by Ketcham & Barnes)

Survey of stable and radiogenic isotopes and their use. This broad course can either be a full introduction to the subject for students whose research will overlap with geochemistry but will not be specializing in it, or a springboard for further study.
GEO 390M Thermodynamics of Geologic Processes(Taught every other fall (even years) by Carlson)

Introduction to general thermodynamics, with emphasis on geochemical aspects.

Analytical

GEO 390S Analytical Methods: Mass Spectrometry (taught each Spring by Miller & Loewy)

Survey course of 5 mass spec techniques (TIMS, ICP-MS, LA-ICP-MS, MC-ICP-MS, IRMS), and their applications.
GEO 391 Fundamentals and Applications of ICP-MS (taught each Fall by Miller)

Fundamentals of ICP-MS, applications and capabilites; hands-on (50-50 lecture/lab).
GEO 390R Analytical Methods: Electron-Microbeam Techniques (taught each Fall by Zhao)

Microprobe course, plus additional e-beam techniques such as SEM and XRD.

Applied

GEO 391 Geochronology (taught each Spring by Stockli)

Geochronology and applications.
GEO 391 Thermochronology (taught Fall by Stockli & Ketcham)

Thermochronology and applications.
GEO 388R Advanced Thermochronology (taught every other Spring (even years) by Stockli & Ketcham)

Current topics in thermochronology, and computational modeling.
GEO 376E/388H Environmental Isotope Geochemistry (taught every other Spring by Breeker)

Theory of stable isotope fractionation and radiogenic isotope systematics, applied to problems in low-T geochemistry.
GEO 371C/388G Global Biogeochemical Cycles (taught Fall (failed to meet previous 2 years) by Shanahan)

Chemistry of surface of Earth, focusing on biochemical processes and interactions with the global climate system.
GEO 391 Paleoclimate (taught by Shanahan)

Introduce grad students to field of paleoclimatology, using geologic archives from ocean, land, and cryosphere.
GEO 387C/476M Chemical Hydrogeology (taught Spring by Bennett)

Chemistry of water in the subsurface. Topics include basic thermodynamics and kinetics of rock-water interaction, acid-base theory, redox, and coordination chemistry.
GEO 386K Igneous Petrology (taught every other Spring by Gardner)

Geochemistry of magmas, geochemical and thermodynamic modelling, MELTS.
GEO 386K Metamorphic Petrology (taught every other Spring (odd years) by Carlson)

Survey course in metamorphic petrology.
GEO 391 Meteoritics/Early Solar System Processes (taught every other Fall by Lassiter)

Survey course in metamorphic petrology.
GEO 376T/388T High-Temperature Geochemistry (taught every other Fall by Lassiter)

Isotope and trace element geochemistry. Emphasis on origin and evolution of Earth interior.
GEO 386E Economic Geology (taught every other year (next F13) by Kyle)

Overview of the geologic controls for the formation of and economic constraints affecting non-fuel mineral resources.
GEO 381R Regional Studies in Mineral Resources Geology (taught every spring, per demand (next S14), taught by Kyle)

Integrated study of a major geologic province, in the context of mineral resources; international field trip course.

Suggested Course Sequences

Graduate and undergraduate research in geologic sequestration of CO2 (Graduate or Undergraduate)
Gulf Coast Carbon Center supports a team of students and post docs working in geologic sequestration (deep subsurface long-duration storage) of the major greenhouse gas CO2, as a method to reduce release to the atmosphere. Student projects are wide ranging, from sedimentology to policy, linked in that they are 1) multidisciplinary and 2) applied to current issues. Students are typically jointly supervised by faculty in geology or petroleum geosystems engineering and staff at the GCCC. A class in geologic sequestration is offered in the fall some years.
Posted by: Susan Hovorka

Fault and fracture processes, structural diagenesis (Graduate)
Graduate student projects combine the fields of fault and fracture mechanics and low-temperature geochemistry addressing deformation mechanisms of the upper crust, structural control of mass and heat transfer in sedimentary basins, the effects of chemical mass transfer on the mechanical and hydraulic behavior of fractures and faults, and the chemical interaction between fluids and minerals. Projects usually require the integration of field and laboratory analytical or numerical work and preference goes to applicants that are equally comfortable in the field and in the lab. Research topics include field- and core-based structural geology, geomechanics, geofluids, geochemistry, and natural resources including CO2 sequestration. A current research emphasis lies in Structural Diagenesis which combines the traditionally separate fields of brittle structural geology and diagenesis/geochemistry. Preference goes to PhD applicants with a prior MS degree and MS applicants with undergraduate research experience, preferentially through completion of a senior's thesis. Applications should be submitted to the MS or PhD program in Geological Sciences (GEO). Please contact Peter Eichhubl (peter.eichhubl@beg.utexas.edu for further details.
Posted by: Peter Eichhubl

Innovative Detrital Provenance Studies - Double Dating PLUS (Graduate)
A major thrust of my current research the development and application of more comprehensive isotopic detrital provenance tools. U-Pb on zircon is clearly the big work horse, but only goes so far and sometimes yields "no" useful info, e.g., if the source of the sediment is mostly recycled sediment. We have extensively pursued double dating of zircons by U-Pb and He, as zircon He ages yield very interesting insights into the thermal and tectonic history of the source terrane; often yielding very different insights than crystallization ages. The combination is powerful, but I think we can take things so much farther by combining double dating with other constrains. People have tried fission track (not precise enough), Hf/Hf (to get mantle separation model ages), etc., but what we want to do and are working on is really Double Dating ++, combining zircon U-Pb-He dating with a variety of other geochemical aspects to more comprehensive understand detrital provenance and improve paleo-tectonic reconstructions. For example, trace-element thermometry (Ti in zirc), REE on zircon (met vs mag origin), Hf/Hf (see above), oxygen isotopes, etc. and also to develop rutile in an analogous manner (e.g., Zr in rut thermometry, Cr/Nb ratio (mafic vs granulitic), REE, etc.). The sky is the limit and what can learn so much. The issue in part it, how much can a single grain tell us before it's gone? The project sounds very laboratory oriented, but it's really a combination of field and lab work. We have identified a few possible case study areas, e.g., Morocco; great exposures, long-lived and preserved record of basin deposition since the Precambrian. My group is already working on some case studies in NW Himalayas, the N & S Pyrenees, the Sevier FTB, Permian Basin and other foreland basin. New projects include provenance studies along rifted and passive continental margins such the Gulf of Mexico, the central Atlantic Margins in Canada, USA, Portugal, and Morocco.
Posted by: Daniel Stockli

Research in structural diagenesis (Graduate or Undergraduate)
Fundamental and applied research on fractures, particularly as these studies apply to petroleum reservoirs, is conducted under the auspices of the Fracture Research and Application Consortium at The University of Texas at Austin. The academic program of research, mentoring and teaching is led by staff of the Bureau of Economic Geology, the Department of Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering and the Department of Geological Sciences. Students in the Energy & Earth Resources Graduate Program also participate in FRAC sponsored research projects. For further information on opportunities for fracture studies within the program see the FRAC pages on opportunities in Geology, Petroleum Engineering, Geophysics, and Energy Economics. FRAC welcomes Visiting Scientists from industry and from other academic institutions. Contact Steve Laubach for more information about these opportunities. A key part of the FRAC academic program is the Structural Diagenesis Initiative, a new teaching and mentoring perspective on interacting mechanical and chemical processes at high crustal levels in the Earth. For more information on the initiative see the Structural Diagenesis Initiative web site. If you are a prospective student, please see the admissions information on the Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering or Jackson School of Geosciences web sites.
Posted by: Stephen Laubach

Laser ablation (U-Th)/He and 4He/3He dating of zircon and apatite (Graduate)
Seeking motivated Ph.D. students interested in noble gas geo-thermochronology and geochemistry to pursue project in method development and application of laser ablation (U-Th)/He dating and depth profile 4He/3He thermochronometry of zircon and apatite. Our laboratory has a dedicated noble gas extraction line with a SFT magnetic sector noble gas mass spectrometer and dedicated Excimer Laser. The lab also houses two Element2 magnetic sector single collector ICP-MS instruments with a second Excimer laser as well as a state-of-the-art Bruker optical interferometric microscope. The project will develop laser ablation methodology to recover detailed thermal histories from apatite and zircon by laser ablation (U-Th)/He and 4He/3He dating as well as comparison to step-heating fractional loss experiments.
Posted by: Daniel Stockli

LA-ICP-MS single-pule U-Pb depth profiling recovery of thermal histories (Graduate)
Seeking motivated Ph.D. students interested in in-situ geochronology to pursue project in method development and application of laser ablation continuous mode or single-pulse U-Pb LA-ICP-MS geo-thermochronology as well as trace element speedometry to constrain thermal history or lower and middle crustal rocks. The UTChron Geo- and Thermochronometry laboratory houses two Element2 magnetic sector single collector ICP-MS instruments with a large-volume cell Excimer laser system, ideally suited for depth profiling and U-Pb and trace element split stream analysis. The laboratory also houses a Bruker optical interferometric microscope to control laser ablation rates as well as a Raman system. The focus of applications is on method development and application to the exhumation of middle and lower crustal rocks in rifted margin settings.
Posted by: Daniel Stockli

Detrital Geo- and Thermochronometry of Atlantic Rift Basins (Graduate)
Seeking motivated Ph.D. students interested in conducting integrated detrital zircon U-Pb and (U-Th)/He work on Triassic and Jurassic rift basins along the Atlantic margin in the NE USA and Canada and the conjugate margin of Morocco. The goal of the project is to understand basin sedimentation, sediment routing, and sediment provenance to shed light on lithospheric rift processes leading to Atlantic rifting and break-up. This project will combine stratigraphy, detrital geo-thermochronometry, and geodynamics to more holistically understand 2D and 3D sediment dispersal and lithospheric-scale controls on sediment dispersal and stratigraphic record during progressive rifting through time.
Posted by: Daniel Stockli

IMPACT: Geo- and thermochronometry of the Chicxulub Crater and KPg ejecta deposits (Graduate)
Seeking motivated Ph.D. student interested in investigating the thermal history of the recently drilled Chicxulub impact crater (IODP 364) in collaboration with Drs. Dan Stockli (DGS) and Sean Gulick (UTIG). The aim of the project is to test different hypotheses for the formation of the peak ring, to investigate the thermal evolution of the impact and the post-impact hydrothermal alteration as well as to explore KPg deposits in the USA and Cuba using U-Pb and (U-Th)/He geo-and thermochronometry. In addition, we envision to use other IODP and industry borehole samples as well as outcrop samples from the USA and potentially Cuba to elucidate the ejecta and tsunami deposits related to the KPg impact in the southern Gulf of Mexico to more holistically understand the impact and its effects on the circum-GOM region.
Posted by: Daniel Stockli

National Science Foundation-International Research Experiences for Students (Graduate or Undergraduate - Summer 2017 and Fall 2018)
The National Science Foundation has awarded an International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program to provide four weeks of geological field-based research and training experiences across Slovakia for undergraduate and graduate students. These students will investigate geological processes that occurred in Slovakia due to the closure of branches of ancient ocean basins. Because of its extensive exposures of ancient ocean suture zones and crustal fragments, Slovakia is an ideal location to study how continents grow.
Posted by: Elizabeth Catlos

(U-Th)/He Geo- and Thermochronometry Lab(U-Th)/He Geo- and Thermochronometry Lab
The UT (U-Th)/He Geo- and Thermochronometry Laboratory is a state-of-the art facility for the development of (U-Th) dating and its applications to tectonics, petrology, volcanology, stratigraphy, geomorphology, and geoarcheology. The facility houses: (1) 3 fully-automated UHV He extraction lines with 2 diode lasers, 1 Nd:YAG lasers, cryogenic purification systmes, quadrupole mass-specs, and step-heating apparati for diffusion measurements, (2) a Helix SFT magnetic sector noble gas mass-spectrometer with automated UHV gas extraction system with diode and excimer laser, (3) two Element2 HR-ICP-MS instruments for solution and laser ablation analysis for thermo- and geochronometery, as well as a dedicated clean room and sample preparation laboratories.
Analytical Geochemistry Lab
Analytical Lab for Paleoclimate StudiesAnalytical Lab for Paleoclimate Studies
The Jackson School of Geosciences now has four stable isotope laboratories. UTIG Director and DGS faculty member Terry Quinn supervises one of these labs: ALPS. The ALPS houses two, state-of-the-science, Thermo isotope ratio mass spectrometers and an Inductively Coupled Plasma-spectrometer (ICP).
Aqueous Geochemistry Lab
Characterizes the chemical properties of water and solids to support research in hydrogeology, geochemistry, and geomicrobiology. Equipment used: carbon analyzer (TC), Organic analysis Field and laboratory gas chromatographs, thermal desorber, high pressure liquid chromatographs, Inorganic analyses Ion chromatograph, autotitrator, field and lab spectrophotometers. BET sorptometer for N2, Ar, and Kr BET surface areas, and A microporosities, organic carbon analyzer.
Electron MicroprobeElectron Microprobe
Installed in 2002-2003, the JEOL JXA-8200 electron probe microanalyzer (EPMA) is equipped with five wavelength dispersive spectrometers (WDS), an energy dispersive detector (EDS), and two image detectors in secondary and backscattered electron modes. The primary aim of the microprobe is quantitative elemental analysis of minerals on a microscale with high precision (less than a percent relative for major constituents) and low detection limits (commonly a few tens to few hundreds ppm)
Fission Track Thermochronology LaboratoryFission Track Thermochronology Laboratory
Enables analysis of fission tracks in apatite and zircon to constrain the low-temperature time-temperature (t-T) history of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks.
Fluid Inclusion Lab (BEG)Fluid Inclusion Lab (BEG)
Principal equipment includes: an Olympus BX 51 optical microscope, fitted for use with transmitted, reflected and UV light; a FLUID, Inc.-adapted USGS-type gas flow heating/cooling stage; a Linkam THMSG 600 degree C programmable heating/cooling stage; and a digital camera. The lab is fully equipped with sample preparatory facilities for preparation of doubly-polished thin and thick sections. The lab will soon incorporate an experimental hydrothermal lab component that will include 6 externally-heated cold-seal pressure vessels (up to 800°C, up to 700 MPa) used for the preparation of synthetic fluid inclusions and for quartz cement growth experiments.
Fluid Inclusion Lab (DGS)Fluid Inclusion Lab (DGS)
The fluid inclusion laboratory is based around a modified USGS-type gas-flow heating/freezing stage capable of microthermometry of fluid inclusions over a range of 700° to -180°C. The stage is mounted on an Olympus BX51 microscope with a 40X long-working distance objective, 2X image magnifier, and digital camera for image capture. The microscope also has capability for UV fluorescence petrography. Complementary facilities are available for reflected and transmitted light petrography and image capture.
Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry Laboratory
Gas Geochemistry Lab
This lab provides the following geochemical analysis capabilities: 1) Wasson-ECE Agilent 7890A gas chromatograph for gas compositional analysis of natural gas, soil gas, dissolved gas, and rock crushed gas; 2) Shimadzu QP2010S GCMS for liquid hydrocarbon compositional analysis of oil, solvent extracts, soil contaminants; 3) TharSFC H/PT apparatus Gas solubility measurement under high temperature and pressure conditions; 4) A high temperature and pressure gas adsorption system for gas adsorption isotherm analyses; 5) SA 3100 Surface Area Analyzer for surface area and pore size distribution analysis in porous rocks and mediums; 6) Foss Soxlet 2403 automatic extraction system for hydrocarbon extraction from soils, oil-bearing source rocks, and sandstones and carbonates; and 7) DIONEX ICS-1100 ion chromatography system for ion concentration analysis of brines.
High Temp. Stable Isotope LabHigh Temp. Stable Isotope Lab
This newly renovated lab is overseen by Jaime Barnes and houses a ThermoElectron MAT 253 with associated peripheral devices and instrumentation (TC/EA, GasBench II, Conflo IV, online silicate laser extraction line, general purpose vacuum extraction lines, Cl purification line). Instrumentation permits measurements of the stable H, C, N, O, S, and Cl isotope ratios of silicate, phosphate, and carbonate minerals, volcanic gases, air, and waters
HPLC Mass Spectromtery Laboratory
HR-ICP Mass Spectrometers
Equipment available: Thermo Element2 HR-ICP-MS with ESI autosampler system for solutions; and Thermo Element2 HR-ICP-MS with Photonmachines Analyte G2 Excimer laser ablation system.
Infrared (FTIR) SpectroscopyInfrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy
This lab uses Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) analyses to measure dissolved water and carbon in natural and experimental silicate glasses. The lab is equipped with a Thermo Electron Nicolet 6700 FTIR spectrometer and Continuum IR microscope, equipped with automated x-y-z stage and stage purge system so that the spectrometer, microscope, and sample position are all purged with dry air that has <10 ppm CO2 for very precise measurements of CO2 poor glasses. Dedicated polishing facilities are also available for sample preparation.
Isoprobe ICP Mass Spectrometer
The IsoProbe MC-ICP-MS is a multicollector, magnetic-sector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer featuring a hexapole collision cell immediately behind the interface region of the ICP, and the multicollector contains nine Faraday collectors, three channeltron ion-counting detectors for low-level signals (ion currents below 10-16 amp), and an axial Daly detector located behind a wide aperature retarding potential filter for high abundance sensitivity on the Daly detector. The IsoProbe mass spectrometer is capable of making isotope ratio measurements in a large number of systems, including Ca, Fe, Cu, Se, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, Lu-Hf, Re, common Pb, Th-U series isotopes, and in situ laser ablation measurements of Sr, common Pb, Lu-Hf, and U-Pb.
Isotope Clean Lab (Banner)
The Isotope Clean Lab is a 600 square foot clean chemistry lab with seven Class-100 workspaces for preparation of rock, mineral, soil, plant and water samples for chemical and isotopic analysis under low-contamination conditions.
Isotope Clean Lab (Lassiter)Isotope Clean Lab (Lassiter)
Within the Department of Geological Sciences there are three clean-room laboratories supplied with HEPA-filtered class 100 air where sample preparation and ion-exchange chromatography for isotopic analysis may be done under ultra-clean conditions, making possible very low analytical blanks (e.g., < 1 pg Pb for U-Pb geochronology, and <10 pg Sr). There are also two other laboratories with HEPA-filtered work stations where sample preparation and ion-exchange chromatography are performed. These labs are affiliated with the Mineral Separation Facility (see description).
Mineral Separation Facility
Includes shatterboxes for sample pulverization, a crusher, a disc mill pulverizer, a Rogers table, a Wilfly table, a mica table, sieves, heavy liquids and Franz magnetic separators for mineral separation.
Paleoclimatology and Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory
Major instrumentation includes: (1) Gas chromatograph-single quadrupole mass spectrometer (GC-IRMS) for quantification and identification of organic compounds, and (2) HPLC-signgle quadrupole mass spectrometer (HPLC-MS) equipped with intelligent fraction collection for identification, quantification and isolation of high molecular weight compounds.
Paleolimnology Laboratory
Quadrupole ICP Mass Spectrometer
The Quadrupole ICP-MS laboratory (with laser ablation) is used for elemental determinations in a wide range of liquid (e.g., natural waters, dissolved sediments/rocks, digested biomass) and solid (e.g., rocks, minerals, glasses) samples. The ICP-MS instrument is an Agilent 7500ce, capable of measuring trace element concentrations in solution over a nine-order linear dynamic range, from ppt to 100s of ppm. Sample introduction systems include a Micromist concentric nebulizer with a Peltier-cooled spray chamber for aspirating solutions, and a New-Wave UP¬193-FX 193 nm excimer laser ablation system for micro-sampling of solids. Sub-ppm detection limits are obtained routinely by laser ablation. The Agilent 7500ce is equipped with a collision/reaction cell, allowing for quantification of environmentally important matrix/plasma-sensitive elements such as As, Se, and Fe. The instrument is housed in a positive-pressure HEPA-filtered laboratory equipped with a weighing station, laminar flow bench, and Type 1 (18.2 M?) ultrapure water station.
Radioisotope Counting Lab
This laboratory contains gamma and alpha spectrometers for measuring radioistope activities in sediment and water samples.
Scanning Electron Microscope Lab (BEG)Scanning Electron Microscope Lab (BEG)
The Bureau houses two SEMs devoted primarily to research on unconventional reservoirs under projects supported by industry consortia (FRAC, MSRL, RCRL) and by government-sponsored programs (STARR, GCCC). One is a conventional SEM devoted to wide-area mosaic mapping for the study of microscale fracture populations in tight formations. The other is a high-resolution instrument largely devoted to the study of gas shales.
Stable Isotope Lab for Critical Zone Gases
This lab is designed for the study of caves, soils and vegetative canopies. The GasBench II and Thermo Electron 253 in the High Temp. Stable Isotope lab are currently being used to measure the carbon isotope composition of soil and cave CO2, CO2 respired in soil respiration experiments, and dissolved inorganic carbon and calcium carbonates from multiple environments.
Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) LabThermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) Lab
Measures the isotopic compositions and elemental concentrations of Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, Lu-Hf, U-Th-Pb, Li, B, Mg, K, Zr, and REE. Equipment: Seven-collector Finnigan-MAT 261 thermal ionization mass spectrometer (1987) A single-channel ion-counting systems.
U-Pb Geochronology (TIMS) Laboratory
Provides precise, conventional U-Pb ages in support of research to both internal and external collaborators (faculty, graduate students and researchers). Equipment: clean laboratory, with 3 laminar-flow HEPA-filtered workstations and related equipment for ultra-clean chemical separation.
U-Pb Geochronology Clean Labs
Within the Department of Geological Sciences there are three clean-room laboratories supplied with HEPA-filtered class 100 air where sample preparation and ion-exchange chromatography for isotopic analysis may be done under ultra-clean conditions, making possible very low analytical blanks (e.g., < 1 pg Pb for U-Pb geochronology, and <10 pg Sr). There are also two other laboratories with HEPA-filtered work stations where sample preparation and ion-exchange chromatography are performed. These labs are supported by the departmental sample preparation facility, which includes shatterboxes for sample pulverization, and a crusher, a disc mill pulverizer, a Rogers table, a Wilfly table, a mica table, sieves, heavy liquids and Franz magnetic separators for mineral separation.

Affiliated UT Programs & Centers

Environmental Science Institute
The Environmental Science Institute is a multi-disciplinary institute for basic scientific research in environmental studies founded by The University of Texas at Austin. The Institute serves as a focal point on campus for a wide scope of interdisciplinary research and teaching involving the complex interactions of the biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere in the Earth system, as well as the human dimensions of these interactions.