My research focuses on (1) the integrated application of thermochronology and geochronology to tectonic and geological problems to better understand the temporal and thermal aspects of tectonic, petrologic, stratigraphic, and geomorphologic processes. In particular, I am interested in combining structural geology with low-temperature thermochronology to elucidate the spatial and temporal distribution of deformation in intra-continental rifting, orogen-parallel extension, and continental rupture leading to seafloor spreading as well as collisional tectonics (e.g., coupling of fold-and-thrust sheet and foreland basin dynamics). (2) Geo- and Thermochronometry technique development, calibration, and bench marking, with special emphasis on development of new thermochronmeters (e.g., monazite, rutile, and magnetite) and novel applications (e.g., geoarcheology, isotopic provenance, etc.)

Click here for link to (U-Th)/He Laboratory Site:
http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/he-lab

Areas of Expertise

Thermo-/Geochronology, Tectonics and Structural Geology, Isotopic Provenance Analysis, Archeometry, Geothermal Exploration, and Thermal Maturation


Current Research Programs & Projects

2010 - Apache Egypt. Thermochronometric Investigation of the Thermal History and Maturation of Paleozoic strata of the Western Desert, Egypt. $149,972.

2010 - NSF Tectonics. Collaborative Research: Timing, extent, and spatial progression of Neogene displacement transfer, southern Walker Lane, western Great Basin. $193,313.

2010 - DOE Geothermal Technologies Program. Detachment faulting and Geothermal Resources - An Innovative Integrated Geological and Geophysical Investigation of Pearl Hot Spring, Nevada. $4,242,519 (including $1,943,282 in external industry cost-share).

2010 - DOD Geothermal Program Office. Geological investigations, eastern Lava Mountains, Almond Mountain, and southern Slate Range, NAWS China Lake, CA. $780,000 (phase I and II). . (co-PI with J.D. Walker as lead PI)

2008 - NSF Tectonics. Collaborative Research: Development of extensional systems in regions of hot, thick crust: Insight from Tibet. $154,019 (co-PI with M. Taylor)

2008 - NSF Petrology and Geochemistry. Magnetite (U-Th-Sm)/He Geochronology - A Novel Technique for Dating Continental and Oceanic Basalts. $200,036.

2003 - NSF Tectonics. Timing and Kinematics of Cenozoic of E-W Extension in central Tibet Important Transition in the Strain Field of the Tibetan Plateau. $229,909.

2011 - DOE Geothermal Technologies Program. Novel Coupled Thermochronometric and Geochemical Investigation of Blind Geothermal Resources in Fault- Controlled Dilational Corners, Dixie Valley, Nevada. $850,000.


Select Past Research

2010 - Ecopetrol-ICP Contract: Low-temperature thermochronological and neotectonic constraints from the Middle Magdalena Valley, Llanos basin, and Eastern Cordillera of Colombia (Phase 3). $616,635.

2009 - Remora Oil Contract. Detrital (U-Th)/He thermochronometry of the Llanos foreland basin, Colombia. $98,000.

2009 - NSF Instrumentation and Facilities. Upgrade of the Laser Heating System for the (U-Th)/He laboratory at the University of Kansas. $76,500.

2008 - Ecopetrol-ICP Contract: Low-temperature thermochronological and neotectonic constraints from the Middle Magdalena Valley, Llanos basin, and Eastern Cordillera of Colombia (Phase 2). $817,000.

2009 - Ecopetrol Contract: Low-temperature thermochronological and neotectonic constraints from the Middle Magdalena Valley, Llanos basin, and Eastern Cordillera of Colombia (Phase 1). $110,000.

2008 - Hocol S.A. Contract: Servico en analysis de thermochronologi de baja temperature (U-Th/He en la Cordillera Oriental (Low-Temperature (U-Th)/He Thermochronometric Analyses in Eastern Cordillera, Colombia). $50,000.

2008 - National Geographic Society. Dating Zircon Survivors in Multi-cycle Arc Volcanoes: a new Tool for Predicting Long-term Magmatic Periodicity? Co-PI with Axel Schmitt (UCLA), $17,400.

2007 - Navy Geothermal Program. Thermochronometric Constraints on the Connection between Advection of Heat through Faulting and Nature of Geothermal Resource for the Hawthorne/Wassuk Range area, Nevada, $134,000.

2006 - Apache Egypt Oil Contract. Thermochronometric Investigation of the SOKAR-1X Unconformity. $69,523.

2005 - NSF Petrology and Geochemistry. Development and calibration of rutile (U-Th)/He geo-and thermochronometry. $ 174,122.

2005 - NSF Instrumentation and Facilities. Technician Support: (U-Th)/He laboratory at the University of Kansas [Phase I]. $203,374.

2005 - KU General Research Fund Grant. Timing of ancient earthquakes by radiometric dating of frictional seismic melts - Development of zircon (U-Th)/He dating of pseudotachylites. $7,588.

2004 - NSF Tectonics. Collaborative Research: Collaborative Research: Exhumation of the Colorado Plateau--spatial and temporal distribution and implications for landscape evolution. $118,818.

2003 - NSF MARGINS. Collaborative Research: Integrated thermochronological & structural investigation of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea rift margin: Implications for the rupturing of continental lithosphere. $189,287.

2003 - NSF MARGINS. Collaborative Research: Integrated thermochronological & structural investigation of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea rift margin: Implications for the rupturing of continental lithosphere. $189,287.

2002 - NSF Tectonics. Collaborative Research: Late Cenozoic to Recent Fault Slip Distribution in the Central Walker Lane Belt, Western Nevada. Award Amount: $162,961.

J. and M. Van Sant Geology Excellence Award - University of Kansas (2006)

Caltech Texaco Philanthropic Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship - Caltech (1999 - 2001)

UC White Mountains Research Station Fellowship - University of California (1996 - 1999)

Outstanding master's thesis award - ETHZ (1995)

Swiss Presidential Silver Medal - President of Switzerland (1995)

Stanford University Graduate Fellowship - Stanford University (1995)

NSF Margins initiative steering committee, Margins steering committee, NSF, Washington DC (2008 - 2010)

Herbette Visiting Professor Universite de Lausanne, Switzerland, Sabbatical, Universite de Lausanne, Switzerland (2007)

Organizer and Convener, GeoEarthScope-MARGINS interface workshop, GeoEarthScope Meeting Monterey, California (2007)

Associate Professor (thermochronology/tectonics), Dept of Geology, University of Kansas (2006 - 2011)

Advisory committee, ISES (Integrated Solid Earth Sciences) initiative, GSA/AGU (2006)

Organizer, EarthScope GeoSwath Walker Lane EarthScope, Reno, Nevada (2006)

Honorary Research Associate, Dept of Geological Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada (2005 - 2011)

Organizer and Convener, GSA Penrose Conference, Kinematics and geodynamics of intra-plate dextral shear in eastern California and western Nevada. Mammoth Lakes, California (2005)

Co-Director of IGL, Isotope Geochemistry Laboratories, University of Kansas (2003 - 2011)

Invited Panelist and Forum Leader, Integrated Solid Earth Sciences workshop, GSA/AGU (2003)

Integrated Solid Earth Sciences Member, pearheading database development for Geochronology and Thermochronology, Cyberinfrastructure workshop at the University of Kansas (2003 - 2011)

Assistant professor (thermochronology/tectonics), Dept of Geology, University of Kansas (2001 - 2006)

Editor, On Track, International fission-track newsletter, Stanford University (1996 - 1997)

Teaching and research assistant, Dept of Geol and Environ Sciences, Stanford University (1995 - 1999)

Teaching and laboratory assistant, Institute of Geology, ETH Zurich (1993 - 1995)

Postdocs

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 Sedimentology of the Cretaceous Dakota Formation, UT.

Andrew J Smye
I am an Earth Scientist who seeks to understand the processes that drive crustal evolution and its interaction with the hydrosphere and atmosphere. Central to this aim is the integration of data-sets collected over a wide range of length-scales, from kilometers in the field to nanometers in the laboratory. To date, my research has been focused on: 1. Deciphering rates of metamorphism; 2. Mechanisms responsible for exhuming tracts of subducted crust; 3. Transport of volatiles to the mantle; 4. U-Th-Pb isotope systematics of accessory phases. For further details, please follow the link to my personal pages on the 'Links' page.

Elizabeth J Cassel
The interactions between tectonics, climate, and erosion; Earth surface processes; tectonic geomorphology; stable isotope geochemistry and its applications to paleo-elevation, -climate, and -hydrology; fluvial and alluvial depositional environments; sediment provenance and drainage evolution through detrital mineral geochronology; sedimentology and stratigraphy; major, trace element, rare earth element, and stable isotope compositions of volcanic glass; Laramide tectonics and drainage system responses.

Jeffrey H Marsh

Charles Verdel, 2010 - 2011
Post-doctoral Research Associate

Badr Ghorbal, 2009 - 2011
Post-doctoral Research Associate

Joe Andrew, 2009
Post-doctoral Research Associate

Stephanie Brichau, 2004 - 2006
Post-doctoral Research Associate


Graduate Students

Douglas Barber

Stephanie Wafforn

Michael G Prior, M.S., expected 2013
My current research focuses on brittle deformation within the lower plate of metamorphic core complexes. I am using a combination of structural analysis and apatite (U-Th)/He dating to determine the fault-slip history along low-angle normal faults (LANFs). The Bullfrog Hills and Bare Mountain in westernmost Nevada expose several LANF splays that have exhumed Proterozoic to Devonian rocks during southern Walker Lane transtensional deformation. The cooling history of detachment splays has important implications for the significance of footwall incisement and the accuracy of thermochronometrically determined fault-slip rates. Previous research has involved the structural evolution of the western Chugach Mountains and Prince William Sound in southern Alaska with an emphasis on flat-slab subduction processes and resulting upper-plate deformation. Other areas of interest include: Cordilleran geology Extensional tectonics Interplay between climate and tectonics, specifically the effects of Cenozoic glaciation on orogenesis Contractional and extensional structures in strike-slip regimes Surface exposure dating, TCN and OSL applied to quantification of fault-slip and surface uplift Tectonic geomorphology of mountain belts and active structures

Timothy A Shin, M.S., expected 2013
Expertise: Tectonics and Structural Geology, Thermo-/Geochronology, Petrology, and Geochemistry. I am interested in crustal and lithospheric dynamics and how they affect our environment and planet. I like to combine field-based geological, structural, and petrological observations with geo-/thermo- chonometric and geochemical analyses to elucidate the fundamental processes that drive the tectonics that have and continue to shape our world and resources. I am interested in a range of problems from extensional to contractional tectonics and their influence on geology and geochemistry. I am also deeply interested in the application of geological techniques to other bodies in the solar system. I currently am working on a field-based research project looking at how critical low-angle normal faulting in the Aegean back arc is to exhumation of high-pressure metamorphic rocks in a metamorphic core complex and the structural dynamics associated with Miocene extension in Greece. Focused on the islands of Andros and Tinos, this research is based on macro- and micro-structural analysis of brittle and ductile structures in metamorphic rocks and discovering the spatio-temporal evolution of those structures with geo-/thermo-chronological dating and geochemistry. I am using detrital zircon U-Pb dating on LA-ICP-MS, in situ U-Pb dating of zircon on SIMS, and zircon and apatite (U-Th)/He low-temperature thermochronology.

Daniel R Arnost, M.S., expected 2014

Nicole Hart, M.S., expected 2014
Modern thermochronometric dating techniques have become increasingly powerful tools with a diverse range of applications in quantifying tectonic and sedimentary processes at rifted continental margins. While detrital zircon U-Pb is commonly used in detrital provenance studies, zircon (U-Th)/He (ZHe) dating has been shown to be a complimentary tool that not only constrains sediment provenance, but also the exhumation history of a sediment source region(s). In particular, analysis of ZHe lag time - time required for exhumation, erosion, and deposition in a sedimentary basin - is a powerful tool in elucidating the temporal and thermal evolution of tectonically active source areas. In hyper-extended margin basins, such as the Mauleon basin, inverted unroofing sequences with up-section variations in lag time can record changes in either sediment source(s) or exhumation rates during progressive continental break-up. During progressive thinning and exhumation, different exhumed lithospheric levels will shed not only zircons but also lower-crustal rutile into syn-rift basins recording progressive crustal rifting and thinning. Zircon and rutile U-Pb-He double dating studies have shown the power of coupling these data with other geochemical characteristics or fingerprints (e.g., REE spectra, Hf isotopes, or trace-element thermometry) to further refine provenance signatures. Rutile double dating should be of particular use in hyper-extended margin settings, as rutile-bearing granulitic, lower-crustal rocks are exhumed during the thinning and exhumation phases. In summary, modern detrital U-Pb-He dating of accessory phases is ideally suited to reconstruct the complete tectonic evolution of hyper-extended continental margins, as syn-rift basins tend to archive a more complete record of evolution of the margin compared to bedrock thermal histories that are prone to thermal overprinting or loss to erosion. The Mauleon Basin of the Western Pyrenees is an ideal hyper-extended basin for this study due to extreme crustal thinning during Cretaceous rifting followed by Pyrenean reactivation. Due to the fact that the Western Pyrenees experienced less reactivation and deformation, many of the pre-rift structure of the Western Pyrenees are preserved and can be analyzed and compared to the syn- and post-rift units and structures. This study is the first major chronologic study completed in the Mauleon Basin. The sample transect runs north-south and covers the length of the basin and intra-basin structures. By using the discussed techniques, this study will give new insights into the structure of the Mauleon Basin and the Western Pyrenees, rifting of the Pyrenees and also plate reconstructions and kinematics of the Iberian and European plates.

Alison Macnamee, M.S., expected 2014

Michael E Cloos, M.S., expected 2014

Adam S Goldsmith, Ph.D., expected 2016
Understanding the role of radiation damage on helium diffusion kinetics in zircon through the characterization of alpha-radiation damage by Raman spectroscopy a la Nasdala, et al 1995,2001,2004.

Edgardo J Pujols, Ph.D., expected 2016

Spencer M Seman, Ph.D., expected 2016

Renas I Mohammed, Ph.D., expected 2016
Renas is working on the Zagros fold-thrust belt and foreland basin in Iraq's northern region, Kurdistan. His fields of interest are assessing the effect of sedimentation on deformation sequence and styles, and the controls on wedge dynamics of the northwestern Zagros orogenic belt. He is also interested in understanding the competitive role of axial and transverse drainages in filling sedimentary foreland basins and how sediment dispersal pattern change in response to thrust propagation. In his research, Renas employs field geology (sedimentology/stratigraphy and structure) integrated with a variety of analytical techniques such as: U-Pb geochronology, (U-Th)/He thermochronology, magnetostratigraphy, and petrography. Renas has obtained his MS degree at the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. Currently, he is a PhD student in the same school.

Emily Hernandez Goldstein, Ph.D., expected 2017
I am currently pursuing my PhD under the supervision of Daniel Stockli. My research combines geochemistry, mineralogy and plate tectonics to better understand how minerals form, water-rock interactions, and the thermal and temporal evolution of ocean-continent transitions. I am developing a method that uses magnetite to date serpentinites in order to better understand how continents break up to form oceans. My research interests broadly involve novel geo/thermochronology techniques with applications to tectonics.

Caleb Rhatigan

Eugene Szemanski, Ph.D., 2012
Thesis: "Structural and sedimentological evolution of the Wadi Al-Hamd half-graben, Medina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia".

Jeff Schroeder, Ph.D., 2012
Thesis: "Geological and Neotectonic Strain Transfer in Northern Fish Lake Valley, Nevada".

Jordan Taylor, M.S., 2012
Thesis: "Magnetite (U-Th-[Sm])/He geochronology of Colombia River Basalts."

Evan Bargnesi, M.S., 2011
Thesis: "Thermochronometric constraints on detrital provenance and source thermal evolution from a supra-detachment basin in Paros, Greece".

Kyle Gorynski, M.S., 2011
Thesis: "Thermochronometric Constraints on the Longevity of a Geothermal System in an Extensional Tectonic Setting".

Sarah Evans, M.S., 2011
Thesis: "Tectonic evolution of a Tethyan rift marin and ocean-continent transition in the Eastern Alps - An integrated magnetite and zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronometric approach".

Kurt Sundell, M.S., 2011
Thesis: "Thermochronology of the Lunggar active metamorphic core complex, Tibet".

Chris Hager, M.S., 2010
Thesis: "Structural Geology and Neotectonics of the Xianza Rift, Central Tibet".

Melissa Wolfe, M.S., 2009
Thesis: "He Diffusion in Rutile and Calibration of Rutile (U-Th)/He Thermochronology on the KTB Ultra-Deep Borehole".

Markella Hoffman, M.S., 2009
Thesis: "Incision and exhumation history of the Colorado Plateau in the Canyonlands to Book Cliffs Region, Utah".

Travis Glauser, M.S., 2009
Thesis: "Thermochronometric investigation of multiple unconformities and post-depositional thermal history of a fault block in the northern Western Desert, Egypt".

John Lee, M.S., 2007
Thesis: "Thermochronometric constraints on the incision history of the Grand Canyon from borehole and surface samples".

Terrence Blackburn, M.S., 2006
Thesis: " (U-Th)/He Dating of Xenoliths from Kimberlites and basaltic volcanic fields".

David Bradley, M.S., 2005
Thesis: "Kinematics and slip rates of the Coaldale Fault, Nevada".

Christopher Tincher, M.S., 2005
Thesis: "Cenozoic Volcanism and Tectonics in the Queen Valley Area, western Nevada".

Juan Pablo Centeno, M.S., 2004
Thesis: "Exhumation of the Torngat Mountains, northern Labrador, Canada".

Terrence Dewane, Ph.D.
Thesis: "Cenozoic E-W Extension in the Southern Tangra Yum Co Rift, Central Tibet".


Undergraduate Students

Terrence Blackburn (2004). Senior Thesis: "Timing and origin of Kansas kimberlites".
Nathan Winters (2004). Senior Thesis: "Basalt geochemistry of the Volcanic Hills area, Esmeralda County, Nevada".
Kelly Wooten (2004). Senior Thesis: "Mesozoic magmatism and deformation in the northern White Mountains, CA and NV".
James Lyons (2004). Senior Thesis: "Petrography and geochronology of lamprolites in Woodsen County, Kansas".
Jack Desmond (2005). Senior Thesis: "Gravity and basin geometry of Queen Valley, California and Nevada".
Mark Hadley (2005). Senior Thesis: "Gravity and basin geometry of Queen Valley, California and Nevada".
Adam Kueker (2005). Senior Thesis: "Volcanic stratigraphy of Pliocene ash-flow tuffs in northern Fish Lake Valley, Nevada".
Randy Ackerman (2006). Senior Thesis: "Zircon and titanite (U-Th)/He geochronology of Oligocene ash flow tuffs in northern Fish Lake Valley".
Alec Waggoner (2007). Senior Thesis: "Monazite, xenotime, and allanite (U-Th)/He thermochronometry - a case study from the NQTL core complex, Tibet".
Spencer Seaman (2009). Senior Thesis: " (U-Th)/He dating of conodonts - A case study from in the Northern Calcareous Alps, Austria".
Josef Miller (2009). Senior Thesis: "Zircon (U-Th)/He dating of impact melts and suevites from the Manson impact, Iowa".
Adam Goldsmith (2009). Senior Thesis: " (U-Th)/He dating and He diffusion of emerald from the Eastern Cordillera, Colombia".
Jonelle Truit (2009/10). Senior Thesis: "Thermochronometric constraints of contact heating by a basalt flow".


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 NE Africa (Egypt), Sevier FTB and foreland basin, and the Colombian Llanos and Magdalena Basins.

 

Exhumation of the Central Alps, Switzerland (Graduate)
Being Swiss, I have had a long-standing interest in the Alps and over the past few yearsI have had two students working on the exhumation of the eastern Alps (Engadin) and the Molasse foreland basin. Over the past decade different models have explored the role of climate (incl. Messinian salinity crisis) vs tectonics (out-of-sequence thrusting etc.). The exhumation of the northern Alpine external massives (esp. central Aar Massif) in Switzerland is key in solving this problem. We have a detailed study in the western Aar Massif and it has really questioned a lot of the thinking in terms of the late-stage structural and tectonic reconstruction of the Alps and the evolution of the Alpine critical taper. This is also a project a lot of people would be very interested in in terms of the results. I have collected some samples, but a lot more work needs to be done in the field and the laboratory. Some of the sampling might require good fitness etc. or more. In addition to surface sampling, there are also a lot of tunnels and the potential of 3D modeling to really understand and solve this problem.