2023 Newsletter

Welcome to the Jackson School of Geosciences Newsletter.

A tradition since 1950, the Newsletter highlights research, news and achievements by Jackson School faculty, students, scientists and alumni.


Is There Life on Europa?

Scientists at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics are working to discover if Jupiter's icy moon could support life.

Deepwater Methane Mystery

The story of the Jackson School's mission to collect cores of mysterious frozen gas from deep beneath the seafloor.


The Real Cost of Electricity

Unravelling the hidden costs and environmental impacts of producing electricity — option by option.

Q&A: Carbon-Free Mining Revolution

Esti Ukar on the Carbon-Free Mining Revolution.


The End of an Era

After 24 years leading the Bureau of Economic Geology, Scott Tinker is stepping down, leaving behind a deep legacy at the storied institution.

Ancient Cave Cats of Texas

What kind of wildcats lived in prehistoric Texas? Rare feline fossils are taking UT scientists deep underground in search of answers.




Research Experiences


Academic Update

Summer Field Camps

In the News

Awards & Honors

FANs Board

Alumni Notes


Geology Foundation Advisory Council


Dean's Welcome

Claudia Mora

Dear Alumni and Friends,

As geoscientists, we study the world in unique ways. Sometimes, we go big: placing sensors deep in subduction zones, using supercomputers to probe massive data sets, collecting sediment cores from deep under the ocean and deploying ice-penetrating radar in Antarctica. Natural systems are not just big. They are also complex, and they stretch the ingenuity of our scientists to tackle important and pressing problems. This year’s Jackson School of Geosciences Newsletter showcases some amazing “go-big” stories.

Our cover story addresses a question central to energy production choices around the globe: What are the true, cradle-to-grave, economic and environmental costs of using different energy options, including renewables, to produce electricity? When it comes to energy, there is no free lunch (at least no free hot lunch)! Scientists and students at the Bureau of Economic Geology are untangling this complex issue with a project that is remarkable in scope and detail to provide the objective results needed to make sound energy choices in the future.

We report on the huge accomplishment of a successful scientific drilling expedition to recover pressure cores of methane hydrate bearing sediments from the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Those cores are now here at The University of Texas at Austin for study. Core samples from the expedition were also examined and sampled for everything from chemistry to microbiology. UT was lead institution in this nearly decade-long effort, with Peter Flemings serving as chief scientist. Of special interest: the inclusion of a Jackson School undergraduate student on the rig, participating actively in the science!

Our geophysicists have their sights on Europa — one of Jupiter’s icy moons, which may harbor the conditions needed for life. One feature shares their pioneering science and how they are modeling oceans under the ice-encased moon and making plans to peer beneath its shell with radar carried by NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, launching October 2024.

Finally, enjoy the feature and a couple of pictures from “way back when” on Scott Tinker, who is stepping down as director of the bureau after 24 years at the helm. What an amazing run! Under Scott’s leadership, the bureau has grown into a $30 million per year research juggernaut known across the globe. After stepping down, Scott will continue to work for the bureau in a part-time, remote capacity.

Enjoy the Newsletter!

Claudia S Mora (Signature)

Claudia Mora, Dean