Prof. Carlson is a metamorphic petrologist and geochemist whose research focus is on the rates and mechanisms of geochemical processes in the deep crust. He joined the faculty of the UT Department of Geological Sciences in 1980, with a B.S. degree from Stanford and a Ph.D. degree from UCLA.

His early studies of mineralogical phase equilibria led into investigations of the kinetics of metamorphic reactions, in order to understand rates of equilibration and scales of disequilibrium in deep-crustal geochemical systems. Central to the success of those efforts was his development of geological applications of high-resolution X-ray computed tomography -- the equivalent of CAT-scanning of rocks, fossils, and meteorites. Along with Profs. Tim Rowe and John Kappelman, he established UTCT, the nation's first X-ray CT facility dedicated to and optimized for scanning of geological specimens; this has grown into a national shared multi-user facility that has been supported since 1999 by the National Science Foundation. For these efforts and for other achievements in mineralogical research, he was awarded the Dana Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America in 2005.

Current NSF-funded research in Carlson's group centers on: understanding the controls on the rates and mechanisms of nucleation in metamorphic systems; determination of hand-sample-scale strain rates at very high temporal resolution; quantification of the kinetics of porphyroblast nucleation and growth, and of the departures from chemical equilibrium that accompany crystallization; and acquisition, evaluation, and synthesis of data on rates of intracrystalline diffusion in garnet, with present emphasis on the application of techniques of computational chemistry (molecular statics, molecular dynamics) to understand the complex controls on diffusion in natural materials.

Carlson's dedication to teaching of undergraduate and graduate students has produced numerous departmental teaching awards, induction into the University's Academy of Distinguished Teachers, and selection for the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Texas System. He is the founder and co-director of the Department's Undergraduate Honors Research Program.

He served as Chair of the Department of Geological Sciences, and as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Natural Sciences, before leading the team that created the organizational charter establishing the Jackson School of Geosciences as an autonomous college-level component of the University.

Areas of Expertise

Field, analytical, and experimental studies of metamorphic petrogenesis, with emphasis on the rates and mechanisms of metamorphic reactions. Geological applications of high-resolution X-ray computed tomography. Analytical and computational studies of intracrystalline and intergranular diffusion.


Research Locations



Current Research Programs & Projects

Facility support: Refurbishing the high-resolution X-ray computed tomography laboratory principal instrument (NSF)

Diffusion of trace elements in garnet: Rates, mechanisms, and theory (NSF)

Facility support: High-resolution X-ray computed tomography laboratory (NSF)

Mechanisms and kinetics of porphyroblast nucleation (NSF)


Knebel Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (2014)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (2011)

Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award - University of Texas System (2010)

UT Professor of the Month - UT Senate of College Councils (2010)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (2009)

Outstanding Educator Award - Jackson Scholl of Geosciences (2008)

UT Academy of Distinguished Teachers - Univeristy of Texas at Austin (2006)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (2005)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Graduate Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (2005)

Dana Medal ("continued outstanding scientific contributions through original research in the mineralogical sciences") - Mineralogical Society of America (2005)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (2004)

Fellow - American Association for the Advancement of Science (2001)

Houston Oil and Minerals Corporation Faculty Excellence Award - Geology Foundation (2001)

President - Mineralogical Society of America (2000)

Fellow - Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1998)

Honorary Scholarship Award - American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (1997)

Distinguished Lecturer - Mineralogical Society of America (1995)

Fellow - Mineralogical Society of America (1994)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (1994)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (1991)

Teaching Excellence Award - College of Natural Sciences (1989)

Fellow - Geological Society of America (1988)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (1988)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (1985)

Houston Oil and Minerals Corporation Faculty Excellence Award - Geology Foundation (1984)

Teaching Excellence Award - College of Natural Sciences (1982)

Knebel Award for Distinguished Teaching - Department of Geological Sciences (1981)

Mineralogy-Petrology Research Award - Mineralogical Society of America (1981)

Chair, Organizational Charter to Establish Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin (2004 - 2005)

President, Mineralogical Society of America (2000)

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Natural Sciences (1996 - 2000)

Chairman, Department of Geological Sciences (1994 - 1996)

Postdocs and students recently supervised by Dr. Carlson include:

Postdoctoral scholar: Eric Kelly (Diffusion of trace elements in garnet: Rates, mechanisms, and theory) - Now postdoc in JSG with Prof. Richard Ketcham.

Ph.D.: Stephanie Moore (Crystallization of metamorphic garnet: Nucleation mechanisms and Y+REE uptake) - Degree completed May 2014, now with ExxonMobil.

M.S.: Sarah Stacy (Evidence from high-temporal-resolution strain rates for strain softening due to episodic fluid influx at Passo del Sole, central Swiss Alps) - Degree completed December 2012, now with Hess Corp.

B.S.: Ryan Cahalan (Lithium diffusion in garnet from numerical simulation of stranded diffusion profiles in partially resorbed crystals) - Degree completed December 2012, now in PhD program at Georgia Tech.


Undergraduate Students

Ryan Cahalan (Lithium diffusion in garnet from numerical simulation of stranded diffusion profiles in partially resorbed crystals).


Invited: "Heterovalent substitutions in garnet: Implications for diffusion of Y+REEs and alkalis", American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, California (2013)

Invited: "Compositional and ionic-size controls on the diffusion of divalent cations in garnet: Insights from atomistic simulations", American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, California (2012)

Invited: "Physicochemical controls on reaction kinetics and equilibration: Sometimes turning up the heat doesn't matter much", Geological Society of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2011)

Invited: "Controls on diffusion of divalent cations in garnet: The roles of host-crystal composition and ionic size", Geological Society of America, Denver, Colorado (2010)

Invited: "Nucleation of garnet porphyroblasts", Geological Society of America, Portland, Oregon (2009)

Keynote: "Imaging and in-situ analyses for assessment of metamorphic reaction mechanisms and equilibration", Geochemical Society, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (2008)

Plenary Speaker: "Rocks, fossils and meteorites from the inside out: Geological applications of high-resolution X-ray computed tomography", Pacific Northwest Association for College Physics, Tacome, Washington (2006)

Invited: "Formation of porphyroblastic textures", European Union of Geosciences, Vienna, Austria (2006)

Invited: "Rates of metamorphic processes", Geochemical Society, Melbourne, Australia (2006)

Dana Medal Lecture: "Rates and mechanisms of metamorphic processes from natural occurrences", Geochemical Society, Moscow, Idaho (2005)

Invited: "Modeling crystallization kinetics: Dynamics of metamorphic processes at grain scale", Geological Society of America, Salt Lake City, Utah (2005)

Keynote: "Microstructural influence and control on rates of porphyroblast growth", International Geological Congress, Florence, Florence Italy (2004)

Invited: "REE and Trace-Element Diffusivities in Garnet Determined From Resorption-Induced Stranded Diffusion Profiles", American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, California (2003)

Invited: "Numerical simulation of metamorphic crystallization", Pardee Symposium, Geological Society of America, Seattle, Washington (2003)

Keynote: "Good rocks gone bad: The ubiquity of chemical equilibrium during metamorphism", Metamorphic Studies Group of the Geological Society, London, England (2003)

Invited: "A sampling of applications of X-ray computed tomography using a scanner optimized for geological imaging", European Union of Geosciences, Strasbourg, France (2001)

Presidential Address: "Scales of disequilibrium and rates of equilibration during metamorphism", Mineralogical Society of America, Reno, Nevada (2000)

Keynote: "Visualization and analysis of igneous textures in three dimensions using high-resolution X-ray computed tomography", European Union of Geosciences, Strasbourg, France (1999)

Keynote: "Controls on the nucleation and growth of porphyroblasts", Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Liverpool, England (1994)

Invited: "Rates of intergranular diffusion during metamorphism: Constraints from coupled intergranular and intracrystalline diffusion in garnet", International Mineralogical Association, Pisa, Pisa, Italy (1994)

Invited: "Nucleation and growth of garnet porphyroblasts: Results from high-resolution computerized X-ray tomography", International Geological Congress, Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan (1992)

Invited: "Steady-state and non-steady-state mass transfer in coronal reaction textures in metamorphic rocks", International Geological Congress, Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan (1992)

Invited: "Polymetamorphism in the Llano Uplift", Geological Society of America, South-Central Section, Houston, Texas (1992)

Keynote: "Implications of porphyroblastic textures on crystallization mechanisms and their petrologic controls", Mineralogical Society of Great Britain, Manchester, England (1990)

Invited: "Local equilibrium and open-system behavior in coronal reaction textures", Harvard University, Symposium in Honor of J.B. Thompson, Jr., Cambridge, Massachusetts (1989)

Invited: "Constraints on the duration of metamorphic episodes provided by compositional profiles in partially resorbed garnets", Mineralogical Association of Canada, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (1987)

Invited: "The polymorphs of CaCO3 and the aragonite-calcite transformation", Mineralogical Society of America, Short Course, Indianapolis, Indiana (1983)

GEO 426P Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology (Undergraduate)

GEO 386 Metamorphic Petrology (Graduate)

GEO 390M Thermodynamics of Geologic Processes (Graduate)

GEO 171H, 172H, 173H Research Methods - Honors Program (Undergraduate)

Sorry, no spots available... (Graduate or Undergraduate)
I am no longer taking on new students, as I will transition in September 2014 to a position as Research Professor.

 
Bill on a mellow day...

Photos and some links for some recent and current members of the Carlson group. To see all photos, click on far-right icon above (the one with 9 little boxes)...

Bill on a mellow day...Eric Kelly: Former postdoc (also former PhD, degree awarded 2011).  Now postdoc in JSG with Prof. Richard Ketcham. More at http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/researcher/eric_kelly/Stephanie Moore: PhD awarded in May 2014. Now with ExxonMobil.Sarah Stacy: MS awarded in December 2012. Now with Hess Corp.Ryan Cahalan: BS Honors awarded in December 2012.  Now in PhD program at  Georgia Tech.