From tectonics at active plate margins to clastic sedimentation and carbonate systems in the marine environment, our research encompasses a wide range of marine geology and geophysics. Our researchers also study the interactions between oceanography and climate with tectonic and sedimentary systems and use a variety of techniques to past environments and paleoclimatology. Our rapid response program allows us to make timely field observations of transient geohazard events.

Research in the Marine Geosciences theme focuses on the following subthemes:

Faculty & Research Scientists

William A AmbroseWilliam A Ambrose
Sedimentology, subsurface mapping of clastic depositional systems, oil and gas production analysis, coalbed methane
James A AustinJames A Austin
Stratigraphic evolution of a wide range of marine and lacustrine environments around the world
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
Gail L ChristesonGail L Christeson
Marine seismology, mid-ocean ridge structure and emplacement processes, oceanic crustal structure, ocean-bottom seismology, seismic refraction
William L FisherWilliam L Fisher
Basin analysis, sequence stratigraphy, depositional systems, petroleum geology, resource assessment, energy policy
Peter P FlaigPeter P Flaig
Research Focus: North Slope-Alaska, Central Transantarctic Mountains-Antarctica, Canada, Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway of North America - Clastic sedimentology - Fluvial sedimentology - Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of continental to shallow-marine systems using sedimentology, stratigraphy, architecture, and ichnology in outcrop studies - Photography and high-resolution imagery (e.g. LiDAR, GigaPan) of clastic systems - Paleopedology - Remote logistics.
Peter B FlemingsPeter B Flemings
Stratigraphy, basin analysis, basin-scale fluid flow, pore pressures in seafloor sediments, submarine landslides, oil and gas migration, methane hydrates, Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP)
Gregory  FrebourgGregory Frebourg
Sedimentology, sedimentary processes, sedimentary dynamics, depositional environments, micropaleontology, mudrocks, carbonates, siliciclastics
Cliff FrohlichCliff Frohlich
Seismology, deep earthquakes, Texas earthquakes, moonquakes, statistical analysis of earthquake catalogs
Craig S FulthorpeCraig S Fulthorpe
Marine geology, sedimentary geology, seismic stratigraphy and sedimentary architecture of continental margins, sequence stratigraphy and sea-level variation.
Omar  GhattasOmar Ghattas
Computational geoscience and engineering, simulation and optimization of complex solid, fluid, and biomechanical systems, inverse problems, optimal design, and optimal control
John A GoffJohn A Goff
Seafloor morphology and bathymetry, swath sonar mapping, stratigraphy of the shallow seabed, ultra-high resolution seismic reflection (chrip) systems, sedimentary horizons, sea ice draft, crustal heterogeneity, canyon morphology on continental slopes, abyssal hills
Sean S GulickSean S Gulick
Studies of convergent margins to examine tectonic influences, structural deformation, fluid flow, and earthquake hazards; imaging and geologic sampling of in situ tectonic and crater laboratories: microplates, triple junctions, transitional plate boundaries, and bolide impacts; and quantitative high-resolution marine geological and geophysical studies of tectonic and climate interactions on glaciated orogenic margins.
Ursula  HammesUrsula Hammes
Sequence stratigraphy, Mudrock analyses, Carbonate and clastic sedimentology, Seismic and wire-log interpretation
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.
Brian K HortonBrian K Horton
Tectonics of sedimentary basins, evolution of orogenic systems, sediment provenance and routing systems, nonmarine depositional processes.
Susan D HovorkaSusan D Hovorka
Geologic carbon sequestration in deep sedimentary environments as part of carbon capture and storage. PI of the Gulf Coast Caron Center ( focused on research relevant to commercial development of geologic sequestration in regions where it is both needed and possible. Monitoring field projects. Petrography and sedimentology supporting hydrogeology in karst and contaminated systems. K-12 and public outreach and education.
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
Martin P JacksonMartin P Jackson
The primary goal of my research lies in developing (1) strategies for predictive multiscale, multiphysics computational models which can be utilized to guide the rational design and fabrication of next generation nanoscale devices and (2) a detailed understanding of the relationship between the synthesis, structure, and properties of nanostructured materials and systems.
Xavier  JansonXavier Janson
Carbonates sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy, petrophysics of carbonate, seismic signature of carbonate rock, seismic modeling, carbonate modern depositional environment
Joel P JohnsonJoel P Johnson
Process geomorphology, feedbacks between channel morphology and hydrology and sediment transport, landscape sensitivity to climate and lithology, bedrock river erosion, flash floods, arroyo erosion, canyon formation, debris flows, environmental monitoring and sensor networks, laboratory flume experimentation, numerical modeling, tsunami sediment transport and deposition.
Charles  KeransCharles Kerans
Carbonate sequence stratigraphy, depositional systems, reservoir characterization, basin analysis, seismic interpretation, seismic stratigraphy, paleokarst analysis, carbonate diagenesis
Wonsuck  KimWonsuck Kim
Quantitative stratigraphy, Shoreline dynamics, Morphodynamcis, Sediment transport, Deltaic sedimentation, River delta restoration, Coupled mathematical modeling and experimental stratigraphy, Planetary surface processes.
Gary A KocurekGary A Kocurek
Sedimentology, geomorphology and stratigraphy of aeolian systems; fluid flow and grain transport; bedform dynamics and pattern evolution of dune fields; the stratigraphic record of aeolian and related systems on Earth and Mars.
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
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
Robert G LoucksRobert G Loucks
Research in carbonate, sandstone, and mudrock stratigraphy, sedimentology, diagenesis, reservoir characterization, and pore network analysis.
Rowan C MartindaleRowan C Martindale
Triassic and Jurassic reef paleoecology, mass extinctions (Triassic-Jurassic, 201 Ma), carbon cycle perturbation events in deep time, ocean acidification in deep time, invertebrate paleontology (corals, sponges, algae, microbes), Mesozoic marine communities and ecosystems, exceptional fossil preservation, paleoecology, carbonate petrography, warm-water and cool-water carbonate (eco)systems, low-temperature geochemistry.
Kirk D McIntoshKirk D McIntosh
Structure and development of continental margins along convergent and transpressive plate boundaries; sediment accretion, subduction, and erosion at convergent margins; forearc and backarc extension and compression; fluid dynamics in accretionary prisms; shallow-subduction seismicity
Tip MeckelTip Meckel
Stratigraphy, structural geology, tectonics, CO2 sequestration, carbon capture and storage
Kitty L MillikenKitty L Milliken
Petrography and geochemistry of siliciclastic rocks; diagenesis; electron microbeam methods: X-ray mapping, cathodoluminescence imaging; micro-scale reservoir characterization
David  MohrigDavid Mohrig
Sedimentary Geology, Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, Geomorphology, Rivers, Deltas, Coastlines, Submarine Channels, Geohazards, Sediment-Gravity Currents, Sediment Transport, Seismic Interpretation, Basin Analysis
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
Hardie S NanceHardie S Nance
Stratigraphy, structural geology, hydrogeology, sedimentology
Yuko M OkumuraYuko M Okumura
Climate dynamics, climate variability and change, large-scale ocean-atmosphere interactions, atmospheric teleconnections, paleoclimate and thermohaline circulation
Cornel  OlariuCornel Olariu
Clastic Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, Depositional Environments, Basin Analysis
Christopher R OmelonChristopher R Omelon
Bacteria-mineral interactions; microbial biosignatures; polar and desert environments; cyanobacteria; electron microscopy; synchrotron radiation.
Jeffrey G PaineJeffrey G Paine
Near-surface geophysics in hydrogeology and environmental and Quaternary geology; coastal geology; Quaternary geology and geomorphology; computer applications in the geological sciences
Judson W PartinJudson W Partin
Paleoclimate, Stable and Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry
Terrence M QuinnTerrence M Quinn
Paleoclimate, paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, sedimentary geology and geochemistry
Timothy B RoweTimothy B Rowe
Vertebrate paleontology, evolution and development of the vertebrate skeleton, phylogenetic systematics, the early history of mammals and their extinct relatives among Synapsida, the history of birds and their extinct relatives among Dinosauria, the history of other amniotes, high-resolution X-ray computed tomography, CT scanner, DigiMorph, informatics
Stephen C RuppelStephen C Ruppel
Mudrock systems sedimentology, stratigraphy, and rock attributes; Paleozoic depositional systems and basin analysis; carbonate reservoir characterization; conodont biostratigraphy and 87Sr/86Sr chemostratigraphy, carbonate sedimentology and geochemistry
Timothy M ShanahanTimothy M Shanahan
Paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, paleolimnology, sedimentary geology and geochemistry, organic geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, compound-specific stable isotope analysis
John M SharpJohn M Sharp
Hyrdogeology; flow in fractured rocks; thermohaline free convection; fracture skin effects; regional flow in carbonate rocks; hydrology of arid and semi-arid zones; subsidence and coastal land loss; effects of urbanization; alluvial aquifers; hydrogeology of sedimentary basins;hydrological processes in ore deposit formation; and hydrogeophysics.
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
John W SneddenJohn W Snedden
Sequence Stratigraphy, Sedimentology, Reservoir Development and Connectivity, Petroleum Geoscience
Ronald J SteelRonald J Steel
Dr. Steel's research is aimed at using clastic sedimentology to address problems in basin analysis, dynamic stratigraphy and clastic reservoirs. I am particularly interested to decipher the signatures of tectonics, climate, sea level change and sediment supply in stratigraphic successions.
Daniel  StockliDaniel Stockli
Thermo-/Geochronology, Tectonics and Structural Geology, Isotopic Provenance Analysis, Archeometry, Geothermal Exploration, and Thermal Maturation
Frederick W TaylorFrederick W Taylor
Tectonic geomorphology and stratigraphy at convergent plate margins Paleoclimate, fossil corals as a proxy for past sea-surface temperatures.
Scott W TinkerScott W Tinker
Global energy supply and demand, Technology Administration, Multidisciplinary reservoir characterization, Carbonate sedimentology, Sequence stratigraphy, 3-D reservoir modeling, Resource assessment.
Estibalitz  UkarEstibalitz Ukar
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
Lesli J WoodLesli J Wood
Outcrop analysis of clastic systems architecture and sequence stratigraphy; seismic geomorphology and sedimentology of clastic systems; tectonics and sedimentation of active margin basins; shallow hydrocarbon features and shale diapirism; remotely sensed study (lidar, 2-D, 3-D and multicomponent seismic multibeam bathymetry and sonar) of clastic depositional systems.
Christopher K ZahmChristopher K Zahm
Reservoir characterization, flow modeling in fractured reservoirs, porosity-permeability evolution
Hongliu  ZengHongliu Zeng
Seismic sedimentology; seismic geomorphology; seismic and sequence stratigraphy; Characterization of thin-bed reservoirs; seismic chrono-stratgraphy

Postdoctoral Researchers

Owen A Anfinson
Specializes in the use of heavy mineral geochronology and thermochronology to understand the geologic evolution of sedimentary basins and their source regions. Past Research Topics Include: Ph.D.- New Insights into Arctic Tectonics: U-Pb, (U-Th)/He, and Hf Isotopic data from the Franklinian Basin, Canadian Arctic Islands; M.S.- Sediment Sources for Catastrophic Glacial Outburst Flood Rhythmites and Quaternary Eolian Deposits at the Hanford Reach National Monument, Washington; B.A.- Stratigraphy and ...
Shannon E LoomisShannon E Loomis
Paleoclimate, biogeochemistry, sedimentary geology
Ryan McKenzieRyan McKenzie
I am broadly interested in Earth surface system evolution, thus my research focuses on sedimentary geology, geochemistry, and paleontology. My field-based projects utilize integrative methods that include detrital zircon geochronology and provenance, carbonate isotope geochemistry, paleontology and biostratigraphy.
Mauricio M PerilloMauricio M Perillo
Sedimentary Geology, Process Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, Geomorphology, Subaqueous Bedforms, Sediment Transport, Wave-Current Interaction, Fluid Dynamics, Coastlines and Sediment-Gravity Currents.

Adjunct/Emeritus Faculty​ & Research Scientists

Mead A AllisonMead A Allison
Sedimentology of upper continental margin, microfabric of modern sediments, Quaternary geologic evolution and sedimentary processes of deltas, geochronology, radioisotopes as tracers of sediment accumulation, sediment transport, remote sensing analysis of coastal geological processes, seafloor mapping, contaminated sediment depocenters and transport mechanisms
Laurie S Duncan
Marcus GaryMarcus Gary
Karst Hydrogeology
Lorena G MoscardelliLorena G Moscardelli
James T SprinkleJames T Sprinkle
Invertebrate paleontology; evolutionary biology; fossil and living echinoderms; echinoderm systematics; Paleozoic marine communities and ecosystems; paleoecology; crinoids; blastoids; rhombiferans; eocrinoids; parablastoids; blastozoans; edrioasteroids; edrioblastoids; starfish; stylophorans; ctenocystoids; helicoplacoids; Cambrian evolutionary fauna; Paleozoic evolutionary fauna; Ordovician radiation; Cambrian explosion; environment & earth science
Paul L StoffaPaul L Stoffa
Multichannel seismic acquisition, signal processing, acoustic and elastic wave propagation, modeling and inversion of geophysical data
Robert H TathamRobert H Tatham
Dr. Tatham's research is presently on interpretation and analysis of multi-component seismic data. In particular, by considering both seismic P-wave and S-wave data, many of the effects of solid rock properties and pore-fluid properties may be separated.

Research Staff

Mead A AllisonMead A Allison
Sedimentology of upper continental margin, microfabric of modern sediments, Quaternary geologic evolution and sedimentary processes of deltas, geochronology, radioisotopes as tracers of sediment accumulation, sediment transport, remote sensing analysis of coastal geological processes, seafloor mapping, contaminated sediment depocenters and transport mechanisms
Rodrigo A Fernandez-VasquezRodrigo A Fernandez-Vasquez
Glacial geology, marine geology, tectonics, tectonics-climate-glacial interactions, sedimentary processes on fjords, rivers and coastal environments, paleomagnetism (block rotations, anisotropy of susceptibility). Current Spatial/Temporal areas of research: Cz/Pleistocene-Holocene of Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Tucker F HentzTucker F Hentz
Siliciclastic sequence stratigraphy, sandstone petrology, continental depositional systems, field mapping and stratigraphy
Eric W JamesEric W James
Isotope geochemistry, igneous petrology, analytical chemistry
Nathaniel R MillerNathaniel R Miller
Sedimentary geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, Earth system evolution, Q-ICP-MS, microanalytics, GIS, Neoproterozoic climate
Lorena G MoscardelliLorena G Moscardelli
Ian O NortonIan O Norton
Plate tectonics, structural evolution of continental margins, reconciliation of observations from structural geology with regional tectonics
Harry Rowe
Ramon TrevinoRamon Trevino
Sequence stratigraphic interpretations (well logs, 3-D seismic), integrated reservoir characterization, subsurface correlation and mapping (using workstation and PC) and subsurface structural interpretation (using 3-D seismic), project management, CO2 sequestration
Donggao  ZhaoDonggao Zhao
Electron microbeam and X-ray techniques, mantle mineralogy and petrology, environmental mineralogy, nuclear waste management, and materials science.

Graduate Students

Tricia G AlvarezTricia G Alvarez
Tricia Alvarez is a PhD student at the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin. She completed a B.Sc. in Geology at The University of the West Indies in 2001 and an M.S. in Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Her research interest at the Jackson School of Geosciences is focused on the study of sedimentary basins in the context of their tectonic setting with emphasis on ...
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 ...
Marina C FrederikMarina C Frederik
Marina is working on a project titled 'Morphology and structure of the accretionary prism offshore North Sumatra, Indonesia and Kodiak Island, USA'
Baiyuan Gao
Baiyuan is currently working on pore pressure prediction within dipping reservoirs. She will systematically study the effects of reservoir relief, mudstone properties, and 3D geometry on reservoir pressure. She will also develop simple approaches to predict the in-situ reservoir pressure.
Jamin S GreenbaumJamin S Greenbaum
Menal  GuptaMenal Gupta
My current research is about using multi-component seismology to understand the angle dependent reflectivity of different pure and converted wave modes and its linkage to the rock anisotropy. My interests also include seismic wave propagation in orthorhombic media to characterize fractured stratified formations. Previously, I have been working as a development geophysicist for an independent hydrocarbon exploration and production company. Some of the key projects I delivered include: 3D structural and stratigraphic interpretation, 3D Velocity ...
Christopher K Hendrix
Dylan W MeyerDylan W Meyer
My research is centered around methane hydrate stability and gas migration mechanisms in submarine sediments on continental slopes around the world. I have been working on determine the thermodynamic phase state of the hydrates within these sediments to gain understanding into the formation of these hydrate-systems as well as the sensitivity of these systems to fluctuating in situ conditions. This research is important for three reasons: a) Methane hydrates are an important potential energy resource ...
Aleksandr  MontelliAleksandr Montelli
My project focuses on seismic stratigraphy and sedimentary architecture of Bering Trough, Gulf of Alaska and Totten Glacier, East Antarctica. Integration of high resolution seismic data with ages acquired during IODP Expedition will allow to accurately reconstruct glacier dynamics in Gulf of Alaska, which is important for constraining numerical models. In East Antarctica the research goal is to analyze the landforms evident of past temperate glacier activity and to make a comparison with those observed ...
Sebastian G RamirezSebastian G Ramirez
I am currently working on two sub-projects. The first aims at understanding the conditions of Kumano forearc basin (offshore Japan) nucleation and early evolution through 3D-seismic and sandstone petrography provenance analyses. The second involves the study of the Cretaceous-to-Recent sedimentary record in the northernmost Neuquen basin (western Argentina) through traditional field work and detrital zircon analysis. My goal is to better constrain the timing and characteristics of early Andean compression and to test whether or ...
Jason C SanfordJason C Sanford
Jason is an M.S. Candidate in Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is currently exploring geopressure history and geomechanics of reservoir-scale sand injections in the Panoche Giant Injection Complex in central California as the second component of his M.S. thesis work. Efforts include mapping of sand injections in the PGIC in order to construct 3-D physical and 2-D geomechanical models of sand injection and understanding and modeling hydraulic ...
John M Swartz
Kaustubh ThirumalaiKaustubh Thirumalai
Research interests: Paleoclimate/Paleoceanography, Paleogeodesy, Foraminifera, Corals, Proxy Uncertainty My research involves the reconstruction of oceanographic parameters such as sea-surface temperature and salinity over the Holocene utilizing planktic foraminifera in marine sediment cores. Comprehensive observations of climatic fluctuations in the ocean and atmosphere have only been measured (with varying degrees of quality) for the last ~150 years, a mere geological instant. In order to understand the variability of climate over large timescales, driven by various forcing ...
Dolores A Van Der KolkDolores A Van Der Kolk
My research focuses on marine environments and marine-continental transitions preserved within siliciclastic depositional systems. I extract clues from the sedimentary rock record in order to understand how paleoenvironments and paleoclimates evolved through time. For example, I am currently exploring how a greenhouse (warm) climate is reflected in the sedimentary rock record in both high- and mid-latitude environments. I utilize both field-based and subsurface data and apply various sedimentologic, stratigraphic, biostratigraphic, geochronologic and geochemical methods in ...
Maureen A Walton
The title of Maureen's dissertation is "Tectonic and sedimentary processes of the southeast Alaska margin." She is a part of the St. Elias Erosion/Tectonics (STEEP) team at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, studying both structural and geologic processes in the southeast Gulf of Alaska. The first chapter of her work focuses on the deposition of the Baranof deep-sea fan, and the other chapters involve earthquake tectonics and large-scale strike-slip plate motion.
On a general level, Marine Geosciences is a multi-disciplinary endeavor and students take a broad range of courses. This includes a Marine Geology & Geophysics Field Course to provide hands-on instruction for graduate and upper-level undergraduate students in collecting and processing Marine Geosciences data.

Marine Geology & Geophysics

GEO 381T Marine Tectonics
Tectonic processes within the dynamic Earth, with a focus on oceanic structures. Subjects may include fundamentals of plate tectonics; plate motion, driving forces, and mantle convection; evolution of triple junction and plate margins; plate reconstructions; earthquakes and focal mechanisms; structure and geochemistry of the Earth's interior; mantle structure and tomography; rheology and deformation mechanisms in mantle and crust; heat flow, gravity, the geoid, and paleomagnetism; hotspots and mantle plumes; seafloor spreading and oceanic spreading ridges; oceanic transform faults and fracture zones; and subduction zones, volcanic island arcs, and marginal seas. Only one of the following may be counted: Geological Sciences 338T, 371C (Topic: Tectonics I), 381T, 391 (Topic: Tectonics I). May not be substituted for any required geological sciences course.
GEO f391/f348K Marine Geology and Geophysics Field Course
Each Maymester we offer a field course designed to provide hands-on instruction for graduate and upper-level undergraduate students in the collection and processing of marine geological and geophysical (MG&G) data. The course covers high-resolution air gun and streamer seismic reflection, CHIRP seismic reflection, multibeam bathymetry, sidescan sonar, sediment coring, grab sampling and the sedimentology of resulting seabed samples (e.g., core description, grain size analysis, x-radiography, etc.) [More on instrumentation here]. Scientific and technical experts in each of the techniques first provide students classroom instruction. The class then travels to the Gulf Coast for a week of at-sea field work as well as on-shore lab work. Two small research vessels are used concurrently: one for multibeam bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and sediment sampling, and the other for high-resolution seismic reflection and CHIRP sub-bottom profiling. Students rotate daily between the two vessels and lab work. Upon returning to Austin, students, working in teams, are expected to integrate the techniques into a final project that examines the geologic history and/or sedimentary processes as typified by a small area of the Gulf Coast continental shelf. This class satisfies field experience requirements for some degree programs. Enrollment is limited to 12 students.
GEO 391 Marine Geology
Prerequisite: Graduate standing in geological sciences. Some topics require additional prerequisites; these are identified in the Course Schedule. Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.
GEO 391 Marine Geology and Geophysics Topics

Sedimentology & Stratigraphy

GEO 380G Construction and Interpretation of 3-D Stratigraphy
Uses three-dimensional volumes of basin-filling stratigraphy to explore how depositional landscapes are preserved in the sedimentary record and how sedimentary deposits can be analyzed to produce quantitative reconstructions of past environmental states. Four lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
GEO 380R Dynamics of Sedimentary Systems I
Explores the fundamental concepts of transport systems at the Earth's surface, focusing on principles and quantitative aspects of fluid flow, sediment transport, and bedforms, as well as atmospheric and oceanic circulation, complex systems, and the integration of small-scale processes in developing quantitative stratigraphic models. Four lecture hours a week for one semester. Geological Sciences 380E and 380R may not both be counted. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
GEO 383 Depositional Systems: Terrigenous Clastics
The processes, characteristics, and relationships among fluvial, deltaic, shore-zone, shelf, and slope depositional systems; depositional basin analysis used in stratigraphy and economic geology. Four lecture hours a week for one semester, with two weekend field trips. Normally offered in the fall semester only. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.
GEO 383N Depositional Systems: Carbonates/Evaporites
Analysis of carbonate and evaporite depositional systems from sedimentary structures, faunal and ichnofaunal associations, grain types, vertical and lateral facies successions within time-significant packages, and sediment body geometries. Three lecture hours and three laboratory hours a week for one semester. Offered irregularly. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.
GEO 380N Sequence Stratigraphy
Use of seismic reflection systems for quantitative stratigraphic characterization of the subsurface. Three lecture hours and two laboratory hours a week for one semester. Normally offered in the spring semester only. Prerequisite: Graduate standing, and Geological Sciences 416M and 465K or their equivalents.
GEO 383S Sedimentary Basin Analysis
Quantitative and applied study of basin subsidence and sediment accumulation. The first half of the course considers theoretical basin evolution due to flexural, thermal, dynamic, and fault-related subsidence. The second half of the course involves in-depth analysis of selected basin systems and includes student research projects and presentations on assigned topics. Specific topics vary from year to year. Normally offered in the spring semester only. Prerequisite: Graduate standing, and Geological Sciences 383 or the equivalent.
GEO 383T Tectonic Climate Interaction in Foreland Basins
Integration of recent advances in the understanding of modern and ancient foreland basin sedimentation, quantitative basin modeling, regional and global climate change, and the geometry and kinematics of fold-thrust belts. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.


GEO 383D Numerical Methods I
A survey of geophysical data analysis methods, with a focus on time series, including sampling and aliasing, convolution and correlation, statistics, linear digital filters, properties and applications of the discrete Fourier transform, and least squares. Instruction in MATLAB and Fortran and solution of data analysis problems using these two languages. Two lecture hours and two laboratory hours a week for one semester. Normally offered in the fall semester only. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
GEO 391 Earth Dynamics
The study of the evolution of the Earth lithosphere and its tectonics evolution sometimes requires a quantitative approach based on continuum mechanics. The aim of this class is to provide the basic tools to approach geological questions in a quantitative manner. The major outstanding questions concerning the formation of convergent and extensional plate margins as well as mantle convection will be addressed. This course is based on a discussion of the physical properties of earth materials and dynamic processes in the solid Earth. We will follow Geodynamics by Turcotte & Schubert, in covering topics in stress and strain, elasticity and flexure, heat transfer, gravity, fluid mechanics, rock rheology, and crustal faulting as mechanisms and consequences of plate tectonics. Other material on the rheological properties of Earth materials will be provided as the class proceeds. We will also perform numerical and analogue experiments of tectonic and geodynamics processes.
GEO 384C Geophysics I: Exploration Geophysics
Seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical, and electromagnetic methods of exploration for petroleum and minerals. Three lecture hours and two laboratory hours a week for one semester. Normally offered in the fall semester only. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
GEO 384S Seismic Reflection Processing
Reduction of seismic and other geophysical data from field data to final geologic cross sections, using real data sets and commercial seismic processing software. Three lecture hours and two laboratory hours a week for one semester. Offered irregularly. Prerequisite: Graduate standing, and Geological Sciences 384R or the equivalent.
GEO 384G Subsurface Mapping on Petroleum Workstations
Introduction to basin analysis, subsurface mapping, and petroleum exploration using a workstation. Subjects may include common tectonic settings of petroleum basins, seismic stratigraphy, structural styles, and petroleum systems. Workstation techniques include well log editing, lithology interpretation, correlation of tectonic events, integration of seismic and subsurface well data, interpretation of two- and three-dimensional seismic reflection data and structure, and isopach and seismic attribute mapping. Geological Sciences 384G and 391 (Topic: Introduction to Petroleum Workstations) may not both be counted. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.

Structure and Tectonics

GEO 386G GIS & GPS Applications in Earth Sciences
Theory and practice of geographic information system (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies, and their applications to problems in earth sciences. Laboratories and field trips provide hands-on experience with the collection, mapping, and analysis of geologic and other field data using GPS equipment and GIS software. Topics include map projections; datums and reference frames; cartographic principles; remotely sensed data (satellite and aerial photos, image radar); vector- and raster-based image formats; geospatial data resources; GIS software applications; surveying principles; GPS constellation and data structure; differential GPS; data logging schemes; GPS postprocessing software; integration of GPS and GIS in mapmaking; extant GIS applications in geology and hydrogeology. Three lecture hours and two laboratory hours a week for one semester, and two weekend field trips. Offered in the fall semester only. Geological Sciences 386G and 391 (Topic: Geographic Information System and Global Positioning System Applications in Earth Sciences) may not both be counted. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in geological sciences and consent of instructor.
GEO 381K Tectonic Problems
Origin of regional structural features, complex and controversial structures; tectonic control of ore deposits. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in geological sciences and consent of instructor. Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.
GEO 391 Ins and Outs of Subduction Zones
GEO 380C Advanced Structural Geology
Origin of earth structures, solution of advanced structural problems, newest techniques, field techniques, and field problems. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.
GEO 391 Continental Tectonics


GEO 291 Hydrogeophysics
For each semester hour of credit earned, the equivalent of one class hour a week for one semester; additional hours may be required for some topics. Offered irregularly. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in geological sciences. Some topics require additional prerequisites; these are identified in the Course Schedule.
GEO 382D Crustal Geofluids
Designed to provide a technical foundation for exploring how fluids drive fundamental geologic processes in sedimentary basins. Includes characterizing pressure and stress in sedimentary basins, exploring the origin of overpressure through theory and characterization, and examining how pressure and stress couple. Problems include how sedimentation generates overpressure, how hydrocarbons are trapped in the subsurface, how mud volcanoes form, how submarine landslides are generated, and the origin of methane hydrates. Geological Sciences 382D and 391 (Topic: Crustal Fluids) may not both be counted. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.


GEO 380T Paleoclimatology
Examines climate records encoded in sedimentary archives through geologic time. Normally offered in the fall semester only. Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of instructor.
GEO 391 Late Pleistocene Variability
Research in Marine Geology and Geophysics (Graduate)
There are opportunities for research within Marine Geology and Geophysics.
Posted by: Sean Gulick

Carbonate Petrography Lab
The lab is a combined effort of the Department of Geological Sciences and the Bureau of Economic Geology's Carbonate Reservoir Characterization Research Laboratory. The lab contains tools for characterization of carbonate outcrops including the most recent version of the Optech Ilris long-range ground-based LIDAR system and a full suite of interpretation software and high-end workstations using Innovmetric Polyworks, Petrel, GoCad, and standard ARC software tools. Other tools include low- and high-magnification petrographic scopes, digital photographic capabilities, and a cold-cathode microscope setup with low-light-capable photomicroscopy. An extensive collection of samples from classic carbonate field areas both modern and ancient is also available for comparative analysis.

Core Research Center (Austin)Core Research Center (Austin)
The Austin Core Research Center (CRC), located adjacent to Bureau headquarters, is the Bureau of Economic Geology's main core repository for core and rock material donated to the university. More than 500,000 boxes of core and cuttings from wells drilled throughout Texas, the U.S., and the world are available at this facility for public viewing and research. Austin, Houston, and Midland core facilities have combined holdings of nearly 2 million boxes of geologic material. The Integrated Core and Log Database (IGOR) is a searchable database for all CRC core and well cutting holdings. Public facilities include core examination layout rooms and processing rooms for slabbing core. Other services are available upon request.

Core Research Center (Houston)Core Research Center (Houston)
The Houston Research Center (HRC), is located on the west side of Houston, Texas, six miles north of I-10 and two miles south of U.S. Highway 290. This state-of-the-art climate-controlled facility is equipped to permanently store and curate over 900,000 boxes of geologic core and cuttings. The Houston, Austin, and Midland core facilities have combined holdings of nearly 2 million boxes of geologic material. In addition to the climate-controlled core and cuttings warehouse, the HRC complex has offices, laboratories, and a well-lit core layout room available for visiting scientists. There are also two conference rooms to accommodate guests attending short courses and seminars. Other services are available upon request. Nominal fees are charged to rent table space and to view core. The HRC has space dedicated for storing samples and cores acquired by NSF-funded research. The HRC curates this material and facilitates continued access to the material by researchers. The Integrated Core and Log Database (IGOR) is a searchable database for all core and well cutting holdings.

Current Meter ArchiveCurrent Meter Archive
We take existing moored current meter data, process it using a handful of MatLab routines, and output one tarfile containing all the data in one standardized format. We have included here (v. 1) data from OSU (Buoy Group and Deep Water Archive) as well as 7 different smaller datasets obtained from Carl Wunsch.

Down-hole Technologies for Ocean DrillingDown-hole Technologies for Ocean Drilling
Researchers have engineered state-of-the-art equipment that facilitate the collection of down-hole measurements. These tools are: MDHDS - Motion De-Coupled Hydraulic Delivery System, a method for inserting penetrometers in borehole; T2P - Temperature 2 Pressure Probe, a penetrometer for measurement of pressure & temperature. See related website for more detail.

Dual-frequency Geodetic Quality GPS ReceiversDual-frequency Geodetic Quality GPS Receivers
We have 5 Trimble Net-RS receivers, tripods, choke ring antennas. One is with Tiffany Caudle at BEG used to support the Optech Lidar system. The other 4 are in JGB 3.122 and used by various groups.

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)

Grain-sizing Sedimentology Lab
This laboratory contains Ro-tap seiving apparatus, a Micromeritics 5100 clay and silt size x-ray analyzer, and an automated settling column for sizing sand fraction.

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.

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.

R/V Lake ItascaR/V Lake Itasca
UTIG owns and operates a 22' aluminum hulled research vessel, the R/V Lake Itasca. The Itasca is a custom built hull powered by twin 115 HP Honda outboard engines equipped with hydraulic steering. The vessel is equipped with a starboard side davit (Fig. 5) that has been used to deploy a variety of water column gear including CTDs, grab samplers, gravity corers, isokinetic water samplers and niskin bottle samplers. Generally the vessel operates in survey mode with a maximum of 3-5 persons onboard. The vessel is equipped with rack mounts that contain a Reson Seabat multibeam system. Other acoustic devices that have been towed by the Itasca include the UTIG CHIRP subbottom profiler, sidescan sonars, and acoustic Doppler current profilers. The R/V Lake Itasca has been used throughout the Gulf of Mexico in rivers, estuaries and the inner shelf in calm seas. It has also been transported as far afield as British Columbia (Fraser River). The vessel can be shipped worldwide in a standard shipping container.

Radioisotope Counting Lab
This laboratory contains gamma and alpha spectrometers for measuring radioistope activities in sediment and water samples.

Sonar Seafloor Mapping SystemsSonar Seafloor Mapping Systems
The Institute maintains two sonar systems for seafloor mapping: 1) The Reson Seabat 7101 (aka 'WANDA') multibeam sonar. 2) The Edgetech 272-TD sidescan sonar¬a towed instrument that operates at either 100 kHz or 500 kHz. The 272-TD towfish is lightweight enough so that it can be deployed by one person, which makes this system ideal for use from smaller boats or ones where an onboard handling system is not available. We utilize a Coda Geosurvey DA500 acquisition unit (

Sub-Bottom Profiling SystemsSub-Bottom Profiling Systems
UTIG owns and maintains an integrated sonar system for use in conducting Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse (CHIRP) subbottom profiling of the upper sediment layers of the ocean bottom or various fresh water systems. The 3200-XS system was purchased in 2007 from Edgetech Corp. of West Wareham, MA (see and can be deployed in water depths from ~2 m to >300 m with an optimum towing height of 3-5 m above seafloor. Deployment and recovery of the towfish can be done by shipboard winches for shallower deployments or a larger UTIG-owned Electro-Hydraulic winch. Constraints on vessel size are dependent on shipboard winches capability of handling either the large (190kg SB-512i) or small (76 kg SB-216S) towfish. Power control, navigation, video display, data acquisition and data storage are all performed by one topside processing unit. The system can be powered by 18-36 VDC or 110/240 VAC (auto-ranging). The system is presently comprised of: 3200-XS topside computer processor, 4-transducer SB-512i towfish, 1-transducer SB-216s towfish, electro-hydraulic winch with 500 m of armored tow cable, 3 shallow water tow cables of 10, 25, and 50 m length, GPS navigation system.

Walter Geology LibraryWalter Geology Library
The primary research collections of the library presently include more than 100,000 book and journal volumes and 46,000 geologic maps, among them the publications of the U.S. Geological Survey, most state geological surveys, and those of many foreign countries. Regional emphasis of the collection is on the Southwestern United States, Texas, and Mexico. The Institute and Bureau also have extensive libraries related to their specific research areas.

Bars in Tidal Environments
Gulf Basin Depositional Synthesis Project
The UT Gulf Basin Depositional Synthesis Project (GBDS) is an ongoing, industry-supported, comprehensive synthesis of Cenozoic fill of the entire Gulf of Mexico basin. The results are distributed as a digital data base that is updated regularly. The project has led to major new contributions to the understanding of the depositional history and framework of the Gulf of Mexico Basin. The project has focused on refining sequence correlations between the continental margin and deep basin stratigraphies, mapping sedimentary transport axes and paleogeographies through time, defining the evolving roles of submarine canyons, retrogradational margins, and shelf-margin delta systems in localizing in time and space sand transport to the slope and abyssal plain, and better understanding regional controls on reservoir facies and their deposition.).

Joseph Smitherman from the CRC stepping over the edge of an outcrop to help with handheld gamma spectrometer measurements Posted by Gregory Frebourg

Sedimentary dynamics and processes involved in the deposition of the middle Boquillas Fm. (Eagle Ford equivalent) along HWY 90, West Texas. Work is done on the outcrop, sometimes in interesting conditions...

Joseph Smitherman from the CRC stepping over the edge of an outcrop to help with handheld gamma spectrometer measurementsBrains at work (Drs. Loucks, Ruppel and Frébourg - pic: J. E. Sivil) MSRL field trip 2012 (R. Baumgardner)Just another day in the field (D. Valencia)The truth revealed (Drs. Loucks and Ruppel in foreground, Frébourg in background). MSRL field trip 2013 (R. Baumgardner)Logging a section in the middle Boquillas (D. Smith)