Research

From the Core to the Cosmos

Structural Geology/Lithospheric Geodynamics

Structural Geology and Tectonics draws on all geoscience disciplines to address fundamental questions about plate tectonic and deformation processes. In recent years, there has been an explosion of new technologies which allow scientists to answer questions that were once beyond their reach. This research not only leads to advances in basic research, but is also relevant to society, through the exploration for natural resources and understanding of natural hazards.


Structural Geology and Tectonics research at the Jackson School spans the entire spectrum from continental to oceanic and upper crustal to mantle tectonics. Only a handful of programs in the country cover such a wide range. Researchers investigate processes at all scales using field and marine geophysical-based observations; laboratory-based petrologic, geochronological, structural and geochemical analyses; and theoretical and physical modeling.

Tectonically-focused research addresses processes at active and ancient plate boundaries. At convergent margins, research topics range from subduction zone processes to continental collision, mountain uplift, and basin evolution. Extensional tectonic processes under investigation range from continental extension in the deep to shallow crust to evolution of passive margins, spreading ridges, and oceanic crust. Other research concentrates on the evolution of transitional plate boundaries as well as transform boundaries.

Other major research areas focus on deformation processes including thin-skinned fold and thrust belt processes and associated fluid flow; formation of salients; salt tectonics; and strain partitioning in extensional and contractional shear zones. Another major research focus is on understanding fracturing, fracture processes, fractured reservoirs, and relationships to diagenesis and fluid flow.

Faculty & Research Scientists

Thorsten  BeckerThorsten Becker
mantle dynamics; fault system dynamics; structural seismology; numerical modeling
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.
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 ...
Gail L ChristesonGail L Christeson
Marine seismology, mid-ocean ridge structure and emplacement processes, oceanic crustal structure, ocean-bottom seismology, seismic refraction
Ian W DalzielIan W Dalziel
Tectonics, geodynamics, geography of ancient times, plate reconstructions, structural geology
Tim P DooleyTim P Dooley
Dynamics and kinematics of fault systems using scaled analog modeling, field studies, remote sensing, seismic data, and comparison with published examples; 3D geometries and kinematics of strike-slip fault systems using innovative analog modeling techniques; modeling of delta tectonics, salt tectonics, and segmented strike-slip and extensional fault systems
Oliver  DuffyOliver Duffy
Structural evolution of rift basins; Salt tectonics; Fault networks
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
Cliff FrohlichCliff Frohlich
Seismology, deep earthquakes, Texas earthquakes, moonquakes, statistical analysis of earthquake catalogs
Julia F GaleJulia F Gale
Natural fracture / vein systems in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks; structural geology; tectonics
Sean S GulickSean S Gulick
Tectonic processes, tectonic-climate interactions and geohazards of convergent margins and transitional tectonic environments Role of catastrophism in the geologic record including impact cratering, hurricanes, and tectonic events Marine geophysical imaging at nested resolutions and ground truth through drilling, coring, logging, and submersibles
Nicholas W HaymanNicholas W Hayman
Currently active projects include studies of ocean-crustal faulting, the dynamics of continental rifting, evolution of forearc basins and accretionary prisms, and mudrock microstructure. Also many projects involve sailing on research vessels to study active spreading centers in various corners of the globe.
Mark A HelperMark A Helper
Dr. Helper is a field geologist, a generalist whose interests span igneous and metamorphic petrology, structural geology, tectonics, mineralogy and planetary field geology. His current research explores geochemical and isotopic similarities of Proterozoic and Archean crust in East Antarctica and the southwestern U.S., the Precambrian geology of Texas, and the origin of epidote blueschists in the Klamath Mountains of northern California. Recent senior honors theses under his supervision have examined the mineralogy of Texas ...
Peter H Hennings
Field and subsurface structural geology; seismic structural interpretation and analysis; characterization and hydraulic modeling of fractured and compartmentalized reservoirs; reservoir geomechanics; induced seismicity; fault seal analysis; thrust belt kinematics; hydrocarbon exploration and production; geology of West Texas, Wyoming, and western Montana; coaching for students seeking geoscience careers in the petroleum industry.
Brian K HortonBrian K Horton
Tectonics of sedimentary basins, evolution of orogenic systems, sediment provenance and routing systems, nonmarine depositional processes.
Michael R HudecMichael R Hudec
Salt tectonics, 3-D computer modeling, kinematic models for evolution and growth of salt structures, structural geology, cross-section restoration and balancing, seismic interpretation
Stephen E LaubachStephen E Laubach
Structural diagenesis, structural geology, fracture analysis, fluid inclusion and cathodoluminescence studies, rock mechanics, mechanical and fracture stratigraphy, hydrocarbon exploration and development in deep and/or structurally complex areas, tight gas sandstone, coalbed methane, shale gas; geologic aspects of hydraulic fracturing, application of borehole-imaging geophysical logs to stress and fracture evaluation, structural evolution of North American Cordillera, fracture history of NW Scotland, regional fracture studies Argentina.
Luc L LavierLuc L Lavier
Tectonics; the structural and geodynamical evolution of continental and oceanic rifts, as well as collisional environments; numerical techniques to model tectonic processes on crustal and lithospheric scales; deformation; subduction
Lawrence A LawverLawrence A Lawver
Marine geophysics, plate tectonics, magnetics, gravity, heat flow, seismic studies, paleogeographic reconstructions of Gondwana, the Polar Regions, East Asia, and the Western Pacific
Dr. Tip MeckelDr. Tip Meckel
Stratigraphy, structural geology, CO2 sequestration, carbon capture and storage, CCS, high-resolution 3D seismic imaging
Kitty L MillikenKitty L Milliken
Petrography and geochemistry of siliciclastic rocks; diagenesis; electron microbeam methods: X-ray mapping, cathodoluminescence imaging; micro-scale reservoir characterization
Sharon  MosherSharon Mosher
Structural petrology, field-oriented structural geology, the evolution of complexly deformed terranes, strain analysis, deformation mechanisms, the interaction between chemical and physical processes during deformation
Thomas H ShipleyThomas H Shipley
Marine seismology; subduction processes occurring at converging plate margins; the role of fluids in accretionary trench margins and their influence on the distribution of low-shear-strength fault zones; 3D seismic techniques
Daniel  StockliDaniel Stockli
Thermo-/Geochronology, Tectonics and Structural Geology, Isotopic Provenance Analysis, Archeometry, Geothermal Exploration, and Thermal Maturation
Nicola  TisatoNicola Tisato
Experimental rock physics and rock mechanics. Digital Rock Physics. Speleology. Seismic wave attenuation, Physical properties of rocks, Wave-Induced-Phenomena, Genesis of caves and speleothems, Reservoir characterization, Nuclear waste management.
Estibalitz  UkarEstibalitz Ukar
Fracture analysis and structural diagenesis Brittle structural petrology Fractured carbonate rocks Tectonics and metamorphism of subduction zones
Harm J Van AvendonkHarm J Van Avendonk
Van Avendonk is an active-source seismologist who specializes in the acquisition and inversion of seismic refraction data on land and at sea. Often these seismic refraction data are used for a tomographic inversion. The resultant seismic velocity models help us to interpret the composition of the Earth’s crust and mantle, the geometry of sedimentary basins, and the structure of plate boundaries.
Laura Wallace
Crustal deformation, GPS/Geodesy, active plate boundary processes, subduction tectonics, geohazards

Postdoctoral Researchers

Xiaofeng  ChenXiaofeng Chen
Zhiqiang  FanZhiqiang Fan
Poroelastic modeling of sedimentary basins, Fracture and damage mechanics of rocks, Borehole stability, Natural and Induced hydraulic fracture, Fluid injection induced earthquake
Naiara  Fernandez TerronesNaiara Fernandez Terrones
Salt tectonics, structural modeling, numerical modeling,
Lukas  FuchsLukas Fuchs
Plate Tectonics, Numerical Models, Diapirs, Finite Deformation, Anisotropie
Federico Galster
Tectonic; Geochronology, Stratigraphy, Biochronology
Mahdi  Heidari MoghadamMahdi Heidari Moghadam
Mahdi Heidari Moghadam is a Research Associate at the Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin (UT). He works for the AGL and GeoFluids consortia. Mahdi is a Civil/Geotechnical Engineer. He received his PhD on Tunneling in Difficult Ground Conditions from UT in 2013. He holds a M.Sc. in Structural Engineering from SUT, Iran, and a M.Sc. in Earthquake Engineering from University of Tehran, Iran. His ...
Matthew B WellerMatthew B Weller
geodynamics, heat transfer, numerical analysis, fault systems, planetary evolution
Xinming  WuXinming Wu
Details on [link:http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/wu/research/][bold]My research homepage[/bold][/link]

Adjunct/Emeritus Faculty​ & Research Scientists

Thomas H ShipleyThomas H Shipley
Marine seismology; subduction processes occurring at converging plate margins; the role of fluids in accretionary trench margins and their influence on the distribution of low-shear-strength fault zones; 3D seismic techniques
Douglas  SmithDouglas Smith
Research on mantle evolution using tools of mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry.

Research Staff

Ian O NortonIan O Norton
Plate tectonics, structural evolution of continental margins, reconciliation of observations from structural geology with regional tectonics
Robert M ReedRobert M Reed
Microstructural analysis of rocks, particularly small-scale deformation structures and pores in mudrocks.
Douglas  SmithDouglas Smith
Research on mantle evolution using tools of mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry.
Christopher K ZahmChristopher K Zahm
Reservoir characterization, flow modeling in fractured reservoirs, porosity-permeability evolution

Graduate Students

Yaser A AlzayerYaser A Alzayer
I am interested in understanding the spatial distribution of natural fractures in carbonate depositional systems and the effect of the stratigraphy and lithology on fracture intensity and geometry. I take a process-based approach to understand early fracture development with a focus on carbonate mounds/build-ups. This is accomplished by geomechanical forward models that takes into account variable mechanical properties, differential compaction, and layer-parallel slip to simulate early fracture development processes.
James Biemiller
My research focuses on active tectonic processes, particularly deformation mechanisms in rift and subduction zones. More specifically, the relationship between short-term and long-term deformation at active plate boundaries and the physical controls on deformation style. This includes geodynamic modeling of these processes informed by a variety of geophysical and geological methods including GPS, gravity, seismology, structural geology, thermochronometric and cosmogenic dating.
Patrick Boyd
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.
Amanda Z CalleAmanda Z Calle
My research is focused on the Cenozoic sedimentary, structural and exhumational history of the Eastern Cordillera to modern Chaco foreland basin in southern Bolivia. A multidisciplinary approach of source-to-sink, geochronology, low-temperature thermochronology and structural mapping will be used. Inherited pre-Andean structures and their response to contractional settings will also be evaluated to decipher the Cenozoic evolution of this part of the Central Andes.
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 ...
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.
Travis Clow
Neotectonics/Geomorphology
Joshua K DavisJoshua K Davis
My research focuses on deciphering the break-up history of East India and East Antarctica. The project involves developing a holistic plate model for the breakup of East Gondwana (Antarctica, Australia, India, Madagascar, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka) and the subsequent seafloor spreading in the Mesozoic Indian Ocean. Then, coupling recent geophysical data from the margins with our plate model, I can develop a conceptualized tectonic model for the breakup of India and Antarctica. Via 3D numerical ...
Abdulah  EljalafiAbdulah Eljalafi
Abdulah s research focuses on understanding depositional and stratigraphic processes of carbonate platforms. His research focuses on deciphering the architectural relationships of mid Cretaceous carbonate platforms in mexico from a depositional standpoint based on field mapping. Other Interests include microbialite morphology, field stratigraphy, and invertebrate paleontology.
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 ...
Baiyuan  GaoBaiyuan Gao
Baiyuan is currently applying geomechanical models to study thin-skinned fold and thrust belts system. The research will further our understanding of stress, strain and compaction behaviors in fold-and-thrust belts. Baiyuan also aims to comp up with an improved approach to predict pore pressure in compressional regions.
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.
Evelin G Gutierrez Tamayo
My Master's thesis involves stratigraphy, geochronology, and provenance analysis of the basin-fill deposited during orogenesis, as well as seismic structural analyses. My thesis presents 1,500 new detrital zircon U-Pb ages from Upper Cretaceous and Cenozoic clastic formations to provide maximum depositional ages and a comprehensive provenance analysis for key stratigraphic units that span critical timeframes during orogenesis in the Ecuadorian Andes.
Jennifer Harding
I am currently a 4th year Ph.D. student studying marine geophysics under the mentorship of Dr. Harm van Avendonk and Dr. Nicholas Hayman. I am using wide-angle refraction tomography to study the role of magmatism and tectonics in crustal accretion at the Mid Cayman Spreading Center, an ultra-slow spreading center in the Caribbean Sea.
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 ...
Alissa J KotowskiAlissa J Kotowski
I'm pursuing my Ph.D. at the Jackson School of Geosciences, working with Whitney Behr and Danny Stockli. I graduated from Boston College in 2014, where my undergraduate research background focused on Earthquake Migration along the North Anatolian and Alpine Faults with links to regional tectonics and structure. My broad interests encompass tectonic processes, structural geology and metamorphic petrology. My research at UT focuses on the structural and rheological evolution of high-pressure metamorphic rocks during subduction ...
John Z Li
Landon  LockhartLandon Lockhart
Landon's research is focused on characterizing the pressures and stresses in complex geologic settings. Specifically, his research integrates geomechanical modeling, experimental analysis, and field data at the Mad Dog Field, deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The title of Landon's thesis is "New Pore Pressure Prediction Workflow to Capture the Effects of Mean Effective Stress and Deviatoric (shear) stress at the Mad Dog Field." Landon has also recently developed a new online software tool (UT-FAST-P^3) to predict ...
Chelsea  Mackaman-LoflandChelsea Mackaman-Lofland
My research focuses on structural deformation, sedimentary basin development, and orogenesis along convergent plate margins. I use a combination of structural geology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, thermochronology, and geochronology to understand basin evolution and mountain building processes, with particular interest in how deformation style and basin architecture respond to changes in convergent margin tectonic regime. My Ph.D. work in the southern Central Andes (San Juan and Mendoza provinces, Argentina) investigates: - Long-lived (~200 Myr) retroarc basin evolution ...
Jonathan  MajorJonathan Major
I consider myself primarily an applied structural geologist and tectonicist, but I have a wide range of interests and research experiences. In the Jackson School I work with the FRAC group at the Bureau of Economic Geology. My current research is focused on understanding the interactions between structures, fracturing, and geochemistry, primarily focusing on fracture systems found in mudrocks. More specifically, my dissertation is assessing fault and top seal behavior in CO2-rich systems by ...
Patrick K Meazell
Juan Munoz
Andrea Nolting
Carbonate Sedimentology & Sequence Stratigraphy, Carbonate Rock Properties, Geo-mechanical Modeling. Research is focused on steep-rimmed carbonate shelf systems, specifically the timing and controls behind shelf margin syndepositional deformation.
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 structural style and incipient foreland basin evolution and sediment routing systems.
Johnathon OsmondJohnathon Osmond
I conduct structural interpretation and analysis using outcrop, seismic, and well data to better understand the structural architecture of Texas basins for seismicity research. Research Interests: - Crustal deformation, particularly brittle processes - Geometry of structural hydrocarbon traps and the sealing capability faults - Geophysical techniques in support of structure, tectonic, and petroleum studies - Geologic field methods and geophysical data acquisition
Eirini M Poulaki
Simone Puel
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 ...
Catherine  RossCatherine Ross
Pamela  SpecialePamela Speciale
My research interests include paleopiezometry, rock mechanics and strain localization in the lithospheric mantle. I am examining stress-grainsize relationships in feldspar and orthopyroxene in naturally deformed rocks, in an effort to test experimental extrapolations of these relationships to estimating stress in the lithosphere. I am also exploring the mechanisms and longevity of strain localization in the lithospheric mantle through experimental deformation of dry olivine aggregates.
Carolyn Tewksbury ChristleCarolyn Tewksbury Christle
Xinyue  TongXinyue Tong
I use develop numerical experiments of subduction to investigate how slip and long-term deformation accumulate and interact at subduction zones during earthquake cycle. Including, 1. Explore the relationships between long-term strain accumulation and the seismic cycle. 2. Explore mechanisms that could explain how strain accumulation is modified in space and time by the presence of large asperities at the subduction interface.
Erick Wright
My interests are in structural geology and the coupled mechanical and geochemical processes of fracture, fluid flow and diagenesis. My current master’s thesis project seeks a better understanding of permeability within fracture cements of low permeability rocks. I employ argon ion milling and SEM imaging techniques on fracture cements in core and outcrop samples from a variety of low permeable formations. Through this work, I intend to gain a better understanding of the mechanical ...
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

General Opportunities in Field and Laboratory Based Studies (Graduate or Undergraduate)
My position does not permit sole supervision of graduate student theses, but I co-supervise or serve on graduate student theses committees, particularly those involving aspects of GIS, GPS, structural geology, tectonics and petrology/mineralogy. I have supervised several undergraduate student honors thesis, both lab- and field-based, and look forward to continuing to do so.
Posted by: Mark Helper

High Resolution 3D marine seismic for fluid studies (Graduate)
Opportunities exist to become involved in the design, acquisition, processing, and interpretation of high-resolution 3D marine seismic data. Current applications include characterization for subsurface storage of carbon dioxide and natural fluid migration studies. We anticipate development into imaging modern systems as reservoir analogs.
Posted by: Timothy Meckel

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

There are opportunities for students with interest and appropriate background in structural interpretation in the Center for Integrated Seismicity Research and also deformation mechanics of sandstones (Graduate)
Student opportunities exist within all of the indicated research areas
Posted by: Peter Hennings

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

Academic Seismic Portal at UTIGAcademic Seismic Portal at UTIG
The portal is the gateway to the Marine Seismic Data Center (MSDC). MSDC's goal is to support education and research with access to and preservation of academic active-source seismic data. Our partner, the Academic Seismic Portal at LDEO, has a complementary seismic inventory primarily of field data. These cooperating data centers, part of the Marine Geoscience Data System, are supported by the National Science Foundation.
Applied Geodynamics LabApplied Geodynamics Lab
An industry-funded consortium dedicated to producing innovative new concepts in salt tectonics. This research comprises a mix of physical and mathematical modeling and seismic-based mapping and structural-stratigraphic analysis of some of the world's most spectacular salt basins.
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)
Environmental Scanning Electron MicroscopeEnvironmental Scanning Electron Microscope
Installed in the fall of 2001, this is a 30 kV tungsten gun high-resolution environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) with a 3.5 nm resolution in high vacuum, low vacuum, and environmental modes at 30 kV. The ESEM is equiped with a Peltier cooled stage, a heating stage, an EDS sytem (EDAX), a EBSD system (HKL – Oxford Instruments), and a cathodoluminescence detector (Gatan).
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.
Geometrics GEODE Seismograph SystemsGeometrics GEODE Seismograph Systems
The Department has 2 boxes (total 48 Channels) with 48 vertical phones and 16 3 component phones).
High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography FacilityHigh-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility
Provides high resolution non-destructive, density maps of solid samples (rocks, fossils, etc) up to a maximum size of 50 cm diameter by 150 cm high (50 kg mass). Equipment: An industrial CT scanner that is an adaptation of medical CAT scanners.
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.
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).
Ocean-Bottom Seismometer (OBS)Ocean-Bottom Seismometer (OBS)
An Ocean-Bottom Seismometer (OBS) is a seismometer that can be deployed on the seafloor for weeks or months, recording either earthquakes or man-made seismic signals. To withstand pressures at large depth (up to 5500 m) in the oceans, all electronics of this instrument are kept inside a glass sphere which can withstand such pressures. The sensors of all instruments (discussed below) include a 3-component accelerometer and a hydrophone, all designed for seismic data with a dominant frequency near 10 Hz. The seismic data are recorded on flash memory. Correct timing of the seismic recording is provided by an accurate clock, which also resides inside the sphere. After a seismic study on the seafloor is complete, the instrument is brought back to the sea surface using an acoustic release mechanism. UTIG has long been involved in marine seismology. The development of a UTIG OBS instrument program began in 1978.
Paleomagnetic LabPaleomagnetic Lab
There are several aspects to our laboratory that make it different from others. One is our automatic handler system created at California Institute of Technology and adapted for our needs. Scientists and students can keep up with changes to our system by keeping in touch with the other 6 similar systems in the world and RAPID Consortium at http://rapid.gps.caltech.edu/. It also includes a cryogenic magnetometer and portable magnetic susceptibility meter (TerraPlus KT-10 Plus).
Portable High-Resolution Multichannel Seismic System (MCS)Portable High-Resolution Multichannel Seismic System (MCS)
UTIG owns and maintains elements of a self-contained, portable, high resolution multichannel seismic (MCS) system that has been used over the past several years in salt- and fresh-water depths from ~4m to over 1km, on vessels from 10m to 35m in length. The 24-channel system is designed to be transported worldwide and to be installed on vessels of opportunity. Survey design, navigation, data acquisition, and near real-time MCS processing can be performed on non-dedicated laptops in the field. Deployment and recovery of gear is done by hand, requiring as few as 3 persons. The only constraints on the system are weight limits of the vessel and electrical requirements of the dedicated air compressors. For platforms with insufficient electrical capabilities, a fuel-powered generator or air compressor can be rented as a substitute.
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.
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.
Scanning Electron Microscope Lab (DGS)Scanning Electron Microscope Lab (DGS)
Installed in 2008, this is a high-performance, 30 kV tungsten gun scanning electron microscope with a high resolution of 3.0 nm. The low vacuum mode allows for observation of specimens which cannot be viewed at high vacuum due to a non-conductive surface. This SEM has three detector systems - secondary electron (SE), backscattered electron (BSE), and X-ray EDS detectors.
Structure LabStructure Lab
The structural geology lab is where rocks are processed for structural geology and tectonics research. Storage space and all necessary equipment are available for preparing slabs, thin sections, and mineral separation for geochronology.
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 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.
Volcanology LabVolcanology Lab
This lab is equipped with a Spectrex PC-2200 Laser Particle Counter and several sets of 8" brass mesh sieves to analyze volcanic particles in sizes from centimeters down to 1 micrometer for determining size distributions of volcanic tephra deposits and their componentry.
Center for Integrated Seismicity Research
The Center for Integrated Seismicity Research (CISR) at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) is a multidisciplinary, trans-college research center managed by the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG). The overall goals of CISR are to conduct fundamental and applied research to better understand naturally occurring and potentially induced seismicity and the associated risks.
Applied Geodynamics Laboratory
The Applied Geodynamics Laboratory (AGL) is dedicated to producing innovative new concepts in salt tectonics. This research comprises a mix of physical and mathematical modeling and seismic-based mapping and structural-stratigraphic analysis of some of the world's most spectacular salt basins.
Fracture Research and Application Consortium
The Fracture Research and Application Consortium (FRAC) is an alliance of scientists from the Bureau and the departments of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering and Geological Sciences that seeks fundamental understanding of fractures and fracture processes dedicated to conquering the challenges of reservoir fractures.
High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility
The High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility at The University of Texas at Austin (UTCT) is a national shared multi-user facility supported by the Instrumentation and Facilities Program of NSF's Earth Sciences (EAR) directorate. UTCT offers scientific researchers across the earth, biological and engineering sciences access to a completely nondestructive technique for visualizing features in the interior of opaque solid objects, and for obtaining digital information on their 3D geometries and properties.
Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation
The George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) is a national, networked, simulation resource that includes geographically-distributed, shared-use, next-generation experimental research Equipment Sites built and operated to advance earthquake engineering research and education through collaborative and integrated experimentation, theory, data archiving, and model-based simulation. The goal of NEES is to accelerate progress in earthquake engineering research and to improve the seismic design and performance of civil and mechanical infrastructure systems through the integration of people, ideas, and tools in a collaboratory environment. Open access to and use of NEES research facilities and data by all elements of the earthquake engineering community, including researchers, educators, students, practitioners, and information technology experts, is a key element of this goal.
PLATES
A program of research into plate tectonics and geologic reconstructions, the PLATES Project is supported by an industry consortium. Our primary objectives are to model past and present plate movement, compile comprehensive databases, develop plate motion computer software and apply plate motion models.
Structural Diagenesis Initiative
Structural diagenesis is a new perspective on interaction of mechanical and chemical processes at high crustal levels in the Earth. SDI promotes the growth of this new discipline.
Texas Consortium for Computational Seismology
The mission of the Texas Consortium for Computational Seismology is to address the most important and challenging research problems in computational geophysics as experienced by the energy industry while educating the next generation of research geophysicists and computational scientists.
TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program
In the 84th Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature tasked us with helping to locate and determine the origins of earthquakes in our State, and, where they may have been caused by human activity, helping to prevent them from occurring in the future. We have established the TexNet earthquake monitoring program to accomplish these goals, and we plan to place earthquake monitoring stations across Texas to gather information about and study these events as they occur. We want to help inform Texas citizens so that they can keep their property safe from the impact of earthquakes.

Affiliated UT Programs & Centers

Center for Frontiers of Subsurface Energy Security
CFSES is one of only two centers out of 46 EFRCs with focus on subsurface energy. Our goal is a scientific understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological subsurface processes from the very small scale to the very large scale so that we can predict the behavior of CO2 and other byproducts of the energy production that may need to be stored in the subsurface. At this aim, we need to integrate and expand our knowledge of subsurface phenomena across scientific disciplines using both experimental and modeling methodologies to better understand and quantify the behavior at conditions far from equilibrium. The unique aspect of our research is the approach of the uncertainty and of the complexity of the fluids in the geologic media from the molecular scale to the basin scale and their integration in computational tools to better predict the long term behavior of subsurface energy byproduct storage.

Research Groups

Structural Diagenesis Initiative
Posted by Stephen E Laubach
Cover art for books Posted by Peter Eichhubl
Field trip to Valley of Fire (NV), San Rafael Swell (UT), and Moab (UT) in October 2014, sponsored by a grant by the GDL Foundation. Team: Peter Eichhubl (instructor), Jon Major (co-leader), Sara Elliott (co-leader), Andras Fall, Chris Landry, Zhiqiang Fan, Nike Tokan-Laval, Casey O'Brien, Erick Wright, Mint Doungkaew, Peter Laciano.