The Jackson School has one of the country’s largest, most diverse, and most respected geophysics programs. Ranked No. 6 according to U.S. New & World Report, the geophysics program benefits from outstanding connections to industry and a strong grounding in basic research through the school’s major units, including the Institute for Geophysics, which employs 40 research scientists (and many JSG graduate students) working across the spectrum of geophysics research.
Overall, the Jackson School has about 250 graduate students in all disciplines, divided about equally between master of science and doctoral degree seekers. Both degrees involve original research in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and publication of results and presentation at professional society meetings is a goal for all graduate students.
Roughly 20 percent of the graduate student body is engaged in research that employs geophysical observations, and/or develops new geophysical techniques. The diverse graduate research opportunities in geophysics can be separated broadly into four major themes: field intensive studies; theoretical and numerical investigations; applied geophysics; and regional to global scale studies.
Examples include Antarctic expeditions with aero-geophysical surveys of major ice sheets; marine geophysical expeditions to understand tectonic and sedimentary processes over the continental margins and deep oceans; broad-band seismic experiments to illuminate the structure of the crust and upper mantle; airborne laser mapping of topography to understand terrestrial sedimentary processes; radar and electromagnetic investigations of the near-surface; and active source seismic experiments for near-surface and petroleum exploration studies. There are also development efforts for seismic sources and receivers, gravity, radar, and other field instrumentation.
Theoretical and numerical investigations
These include: solutions to inverse problems to estimate complex multi-parameter earth models from large data sets; development of numerical methods to simulate wave propagation and deformation in complex materials via finite element and finite difference methods; inference from and analysis of complex systems, such as Earth’s climate variations; and development of algorithms using parallel processing architectures.
Geophysical methods employing seismic and electromagnetic waves can be used to explore for resources, including petroleum, water, and others, and to estimate near surface physical properties for identification of hazards. Examples underway at UT include improved imaging of subsurface structures to support geological interpretation; estimation of subsurface physical properties from conventional and multi-component seismic data; and application of electromagnetic methods (radar and others) to estimate subsurface structure and physical properties.
Regional to global scale studies
UT geophysicists develop images of the interior of the earth using seismic waves; study earthquake sources and their distribution in time and space; interpret the deformation of the crust and the forces that cause them; and study Earth’s gravity and magnetic fields from surface and space-based observations.
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
Texas Consortium for Computational Seismology is looking for Ph.D. students interested in computational research. Our group works on a broad range of topics in exploration geophysics, from wave-equation seismic imaging and inversion to computational algorithms for seismic data processing and seismic interpretation. The work is supported by industrial sponsors. We use open-source software tools and high-performace computing resources.
Posted by: Sergey Fomel
High Resolution 3D marine seismic for fluid studiesGraduate
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: Tip Meckel
I am always interested in adding motivated new students to my Earthquake Science research team in the Jackson School. For prospective graduate students, please review the application guidelines and expectations listed on the Jackson School website (see orange link above). We do not accept "off track" admissions in the Jackson School, so the standard Fall application season is your best bet. I strongly encourage prospective students to reach out to me via email during this time with your CV and research interests. I highly value diversity in thought and experience, and students from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.
Posted by: Daniel Trugman
Electromechanical instrumentation designGraduate
Electromechanical instrumentation design
Posted by: Darrel Tremaine
Quaternary Evolution of Mississippi Submarine CanyonUndergraduate - Position duration is unknown
Michael Sweet (Institute for Geophysics) is looking for an undergraduate student researcher to use bathymetric and seismic data to understand the evolution of the Mississippi Submarine Canyon in the Gulf of Mexico. The researcher will learn to interpret seismic data and use ArcGIS software to integrate bathymetry and other geospatial data. The student will receive a $2500 scholarship from the Institute for Geophysics. Depending on progress, there may be opportunities for publication.
Posted by: Michael Sweet
Analyzing seismic data using machine learning techniquesUndergraduate
Seismic recordings are used to detect earthquakes and to create images of the Earth’s interior. Seismic data contain rich patterns that can be discovered for extracting detailed information. Newly developed machine learning techniques aid in the discovery process. Deep learning has been used to detect arrivals of seismic signals from earthquakes and volcano eruptions and to extract from subsurface images such features, as faults, channels, salt bodies, etc. In detecting geological features, computational algorithms prove to be as powerful or even more powerful than the human eye, especially in higher dimensions. In this project, we are adopting the latest ideas from the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve the resolution ability of seismic images. Our objective is to advance the state of the art in discovering seismic data patterns. The approaches include unsupervised learning for analyzing seismic waveforms and compressing data in the transformed domain and supervised learning for teaching the computer how to imitate the work of human interpreters. We are seeking an enthusiastic student to participate in this project. The student will develop data-analysis skills and contribute to an open-source software project. Some prior familiarity with seismology and machine learning, as well as some prior experience with computer programming using Python are helpful but not required
Posted by: Sergey Fomel
The Center for Computational Geosciences and Optimization addresses modeling of the solid and fluid earth systems, with emphasis on large scale simulation and inversion on supercomputers. Problems of interest include forward and inverse modeling of regional and global seismic wave propagation, mantle convection, atmospheric and subsurface contaminant transport, ocean dynamics, and flow in porous media. Research in the CCGO is conducted jointly with collaborators from the Jackson School of Geosciences, other ICES centers, the College of Engineering, the Department of Computer Sciences, other universities including Carnegie Mellon, Penn, MIT, Columbia, and Emory, and Sandia National Labs. Related inverse and optimization problems in the mechanical and biomedical engineering sciences are also being pursued.
The Center for Planetary Systems Habitability is an interdisciplinary research center at UT and is the result of a partnership between the Jackson School, the College of Natural Sciences, and the Cockrell School of Engineering. The center advances our ability to search for life on other planets by collaborating on research that helps better understand where habitable zones develop and how they evolve within planetary systems.
The Edger Forum is a consortium of industry participants sponsoring Education & Research in Exploration Geophysical Technology.
The Exploration Geophysics Laboratory (EGL) develops a wide range of technologies using all components of the seismic wavefield, including seismic field-recording techniques, data-processing and data-interpretation procedures, for improved reservoir characterization and prospect evaluation.
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.
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.
The Reservoir Characterization Research Laboratory (RCRL) seeks to use outcrop and subsurface geologic and petrophysical data from carbonate reservoir strata as the basis for developing new and integrated methodologies to better understand and describe the 3-D reservoir environment.
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.
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
The University of Texas at Austin, Center for Space Research was established in 1981 under the direction of Dr. Byron D. Tapley. The mission of the Center is to conduct research in orbit determination, space geodesy, the Earth and its environment, exploration of the solar system, as well as expanding the scientific applications of space systems data.
The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin is one of the leading centers of computational excellence in the United States. Located on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, the center's mission is to enable discoveries that advance science and society through the application of advanced computing technologies.
Research at ZacatonPosted by Marcus Gary
Photos of research of the Sistema Zacaton karst area