Petrology/Mineral Physics

The petrology and mineral physics group at the Jackson School explores mantle geochemistry; volcanic eruption dynamics; metamorphic textures and reactions; lithospheric dynamics; fluid migration in the crust and mantle; and formation of ore deposits. Graduate students at the Jackson School can explore a wide range of processes from theoretical, experimental, and applied perspectives, and greatly benefit from the diverse studies in the group and one of the best equipped research groups in the country.


Jaime Barnes’ research focuses on using stable isotopes as geochemical tracers of fluids in various tectonic settings, to decipher fluid-rock interactions and metasomatism at high temperature (including serpentinization processes), relationships between metamorphic processes and deformation, and volatile transport in subduction zones to aid in quantifying geochemical cycles.

Bill Carlson’s research focuses on developing a quantitative understanding of the rates and mechanisms of metamorphic processes, such as quantitatively analyzing primary metamorphic microstructures, linked to numerical simulations of their development, to understand fundamental processes of recrystallization. The greatest novelty in this work is the use of high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (HR X-ray CT) to reveal the sizes, shapes and disposition of crystals within a rock.

Elizabeth Catlos’ research focuses on applying geochemical techniques to the study of lithosphere dynamics in order to understand the broader tectonic history of regions in Turkey, the Himalayas (India and Nepal), and south India (Tamil Nadu). Her interests include the geochemistry of igneous and metamorphic rocks, geochronology of a variety of minerals, applying mineral equilibria to estimate environmental conditions, and novel petrographic imaging techniques.

Jim Gardner’s research focuses on the physical and chemical aspects of volcanic eruptions and magmatic processes through field studies of active volcanic centers, as well as using experimental petrology to study pre-eruption contents of volatiles in magmas and the degassing of those volatiles during eruption.

John Lassiter’s and Jung-Fu “Afu” Lin’s research focuses on the geochemistry and mineral physics of deep-Earth materials to understand how melts are generated in the mantle, how subduction of crust and sediments has affected the long-term chemical and physical evolution of the Earth’s interior, and how properties of earth materials are affected by extreme pressures and temperatures. Geochemical research includes projects examining the nature and origin of mantle plumes and the global cycling of volatiles in the Earth. Research on mineral physics emphasizes an understanding of the interiors of the Earth and other planets through direct examination of the properties of materials under high pressure-temperature conditions.

Rich Ketcham’s research focuses on theory, calibration, and inversion approaches for extracting thermal history information from various isotopic systems, primarily fission-track and (U-Th)/He. He is setting up a cutting-edge fission-track laboratory. Rich also focuses on high-resolution X-ray computed tomography, including developing techniques in data acquisition, optimization, and processing to extract information for studies in petrology, economic geology, paleontology, hydrogeology, and meteoritics.

Rich Kyle’s research on hydrothermal systems integrates mineralization into a broad framework involving fluid and isotope geochemistry, petrology, tectonics, and geochronology. Long-term studies include pluton- and wallrock-hosted Cu-Au mineralization. Exciting new perspectives are coming from quantitative X-ray computed tomography study of three-dimensional distribution of gold in ores.

Faculty & Research Scientists

Jaime D Barnes

Jaime D Barnes

Stable isotope geochemistry, metamorphism and volatile transport in subduction zones, fluid-rock interaction and metasomatism, geochemical cycling, stable chlorine isotopes
Athma R Bhandari

Athma R Bhandari

Elizabeth J Catlos

Elizabeth J Catlos

Can also see https://www.catlos.work/ My primary research focus is [bold]geochemistry[/bold], and how the fundamentals of chemistry (mineral reactions, radiogenic and stable isotopes, major and trace elements) can be and are used to understand what the Earth was like in the past. In this, I have interests that span a broad range of range of plate boundary processes and laboratory approaches. Many ancient fault systems are clues to determine the evolution ...
James E Gardner

James E Gardner

Volcanology, volcanic eruption processes, magmatic processes, experimental petrology, volatiles in magmas, degassing of volatiles from magmas, control of degassing behavior on volcanic eruptions and formation of ore bodies
Romy D Hanna

Romy D Hanna

carbonaceous chondrites, planetary geology, remote sensing, VISNIR and TIR spectroscopy, X-ray computed tomography (CT), electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), 3D image analysis and processing, scientific software development
Mark A Helper

Mark A Helper

Dr. Helper is a field geologist, a generalist whose interests span igneous and metamorphic petrology, structural geology, tectonics, mineralogy and planetary field geology. His current research explores geochemical and isotopic similarities of Proterozoic and Archean crust in East Antarctica and the southwestern U.S., the Precambrian geology of Texas, and the origin of epidote blueschists in the Klamath Mountains of northern California. Recent senior honors theses under his supervision have examined the mineralogy of Texas ...
Richard A Ketcham

Richard A Ketcham

High-resolution X-ray computed tomography, CT scanning, 3D image analysis, fission-track dating, thermochronology, structural geology, tectonics, digital morphology, trabecular bone
J. Richard Kyle

J. Richard Kyle

Ore deposits geology, strata-controlled mineral resources, metals & industrial minerals exploration, ore petrology, characterization of ore-forming fluids, high resolution X-ray computed tomography applications to ore genesis & processing, geology of energy critical elements, resources & society, geology & mineral resources of Texas
John C Lassiter

John 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 Laubach

Stephen 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.
Jung-Fu  Lin

Jung-Fu Lin

Mineral physics, physics and chemistry of planetary materials, solid-Earth geophysics and geochemistry, high-pressure diamond anvil cell, X-ray and laser spectroscopy
Nicola  Tisato

Nicola Tisato

Experimental rock physics and rock mechanics. Digital Rock Physics. Speleology. Seismic wave attenuation, Physical properties of rocks, Wave-Induced-Phenomena, Genesis of caves and speleothems, Reservoir characterization, Nuclear waste management.
Estibalitz  Ukar

Estibalitz Ukar

Fracture analysis and structural diagenesis Brittle structural petrology Fractured carbonate rocks Tectonics and metamorphism of subduction zones

Postdoctoral Researchers

Federico Galster

Tectonic; Geochronology, Stratigraphy, Biochronology

Adjunct/Emeritus Faculty‚Äč & Research Scientists

Douglas  Smith

Douglas Smith

Research on mantle evolution using tools of mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry.

Research Staff

Raymond L Eastwood

Petrophysics; mainly creation of core-calibrated interpretation models for well logs.

Sara Elliott

Robert M Reed

Robert M Reed

Microstructural analysis of rocks, particularly small-scale deformation structures and pores in mudrocks.
Douglas  Smith

Douglas Smith

Research on mantle evolution using tools of mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry.

Graduate Students

Wade L Aubin

Wade L Aubin

Volcanology, Igneous Petrology, and associated interesting things
Rachel  Blandon

Rachel Blandon

Interesting in physical volcanology and experimental petrology.
Scott A Eckley

Scott A Eckley

I am interested in the evolution of the terrestrial bodies, specifically the Earth, Moon, Mars, and Vesta.

Eve I Hostettler

Nicholas F Meszaros

Sean  O'Donnell

Sean O'Donnell

My research interests are in the areas of volcanology and igneous petrology. I am currently researching aspects of the caldera forming eruption of Crater Lake, OR. I am using field and laboratory methods to understand volcanologic and petrologic processes that occurred during different stages of the eruption, and determining how these processes can occur in volcanoes around the world. In the past, I have used experimental methods to study pyroclastic flow dynamics and used petrologic ...
Junwen  Peng

Junwen Peng

Junwen Peng received his B.S. degree in resource exploration engineering (petroleum geology) from China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) in 2013. In 2016, he graduated from China University of Petroleum (Beijing) with an M.S. degree in geological resources and geological engineering (petroleum geology). He is now a doctoral candidate in geology at the University of Texas at Austin. His current research interests include heterogeneity characterization and genetic mechanism of deep water fine-grained sedimentary rocks.
Sebastian  Ramiro ramirez

Sebastian Ramiro ramirez

Sebastian started his PhD program at UT in 2016. He is interested in petrographic, geochemical and petrophysical studies of mudrocks, and is currently working on porosity and permeability experiments in the Wolfcamp and Bone Spring formations, Delaware Basin.
Murat  Tamer

Murat Tamer

Geo-thermochronology

Graduate Student Position in Mineral Physics Lab

Graduate
The mineral physics lab at the Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, the University of Texas at Austin invites applications for graduate student positions towards a Master's or Ph.D. degree in mineral physics. The Jackson School of Geosciences has exceptionally well-funded research programs and offers a number of scholarships to support graduate students for an extended period of time. Candidates with strong background and/or interest in physics (solid state physics), math, and geophysics/geochemistry are strongly encouraged to apply. Our mineral physics research programs focuses on high pressure-temperature experimental studies on materials properties using synchrotron X-ray and optical spectroscopies in a diamond anvil cell. Information about the graduate student programs at the Jackson School is available at: http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/. Please contact Dr. Jung-Fu Lin at afu@jsg.utexas.edu for further information.
Posted by: Jung-Fu Lin

Graduate and undergraduate research in geologic sequestration of CO2

Graduate or Undergraduate
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

General Opportunities in Field and Laboratory Based Studies

Graduate or Undergraduate
My position does not permit sole supervision of graduate student theses, but I co-supervise or serve on graduate student theses committees, particularly those involving aspects of GIS, GPS, structural geology, tectonics and petrology/mineralogy. I have supervised several undergraduate student honors thesis, both lab- and field-based, and look forward to continuing to do so.
Posted by: Mark Helper

Laser ablation (U-Th)/He and 4He/3He dating of zircon and apatite

Graduate
Seeking motivated Ph.D. students interested in noble gas geo-thermochronology and geochemistry to pursue project in method development and application of laser ablation (U-Th)/He dating and depth profile 4He/3He thermochronometry of zircon and apatite. Our laboratory has a dedicated noble gas extraction line with a SFT magnetic sector noble gas mass spectrometer and dedicated Excimer Laser. The lab also houses two Element2 magnetic sector single collector ICP-MS instruments with a second Excimer laser as well as a state-of-the-art Bruker optical interferometric microscope. The project will develop laser ablation methodology to recover detailed thermal histories from apatite and zircon by laser ablation (U-Th)/He and 4He/3He dating as well as comparison to step-heating fractional loss experiments.
Posted by: Daniel Stockli

LA-ICP-MS single-pule U-Pb depth profiling recovery of thermal histories

Graduate
Seeking motivated Ph.D. students interested in in-situ geochronology to pursue project in method development and application of laser ablation continuous mode or single-pulse U-Pb LA-ICP-MS geo-thermochronology as well as trace element speedometry to constrain thermal history or lower and middle crustal rocks. The UTChron Geo- and Thermochronometry laboratory houses two Element2 magnetic sector single collector ICP-MS instruments with a large-volume cell Excimer laser system, ideally suited for depth profiling and U-Pb and trace element split stream analysis. The laboratory also houses a Bruker optical interferometric microscope to control laser ablation rates as well as a Raman system. The focus of applications is on method development and application to the exhumation of middle and lower crustal rocks in rifted margin settings.
Posted by: Daniel Stockli

Lab Assistant

Graduate or Undergraduate
Laboratory Assistants typically work in 3-5 hour blocks, helping researchers collect and process data on all techniques across the lab, as well as occasionally perform some of the few routine lab activities like carbon or gold coating, touch-up polishing, and billing.
Posted by: Phil Orlandini

(U-Th)/He Geo- and Thermochronometry Lab

(U-Th)/He Geo- and Thermochronometry Lab

The UT (U-Th)/He Geo- and Thermochronometry Laboratory is a state-of-the art facility for the development of (U-Th) dating and its applications to tectonics, petrology, volcanology, stratigraphy, geomorphology, and geoarcheology. The facility houses: (1) 3 fully-automated UHV He extraction lines with 2 diode lasers, 1 Nd:YAG lasers, cryogenic purification systmes, quadrupole mass-specs, and step-heating apparati for diffusion measurements, (2) a Helix SFT magnetic sector noble gas mass-spectrometer with automated UHV gas extraction system with diode and excimer laser, (3) two Element2 HR-ICP-MS instruments for solution and laser ablation analysis for thermo- and geochronometery, as well as a dedicated clean room and sample preparation laboratories.
Cathodoluminescence System

Cathodoluminescence System

The desktop cathodoluminescence system provides valuable visual information from rocks and minerals not seen using regular light petrography or other electron beam equipment. Here, electrons bombard a regular rock thin section and the sample glows in visible light. A high-resolution digital camera captures the images. Applications include examining carbonate textures, quartz overgrowths and filled fractures in sedimentary rocks and understanding mineral zoning and fluid interactions in intrusive igneous rocks.
Electron Microprobe

Electron 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)
Experimental Petrology Lab

Experimental Petrology Lab

A state-of-the-art laboratory that consists of three DelTech furnaces for TZM-style pressure vessels and eleven cold-seal pressure vessel systems, four of which are equipped with rapid-quench capabilities. The pressure line for the cold-seal vessels allows for controlled, continuous decompressions. Combined, the experimental facilities allow experiments to be run at up to ~1250 degrees C and from atmospheric to 4000 bars pressure, depending on temperature. The lab also is equipped with a one-atmosphere gas-mixing furnace for homogenization of glasses in controlled atmospheres. Recent funding from the National Science Foundation will allow the laboratory to acquire a Piston Cylinder Apparatus to allow experimental conditions to be extended to 1700 degrees C and up to 4 GPa (40,000 bars) pressure.
Faceting Lab

Faceting Lab

The JSG gemology and lapidary laboratories comprises two separate facilities: 1) a teaching laboratory housing ten Vargas Fac-a-Gem faceting machines, a custom-built gemstone preformer, and allied tools, equipment (e.g. refractometers, polariscopes, spectrascope, gem microscope, etc.) and displays for faceting and identifying gemstone; 2) a dedicated laboratory with table-top and free-standing rock saws, grinders, sanders and polishing equipment for producing polished rock slabs and cabochons. The laboratories are used by students enrolled in a Gems and Gem Minerals course who receive instruction and introductory training in gemstone identification and the lapidary arts and, less frequently, by graduate students and faculty requiring precision cutting and grinding capabilities for mineral or rock samples.
Fission Track Thermochronology Laboratory

Fission Track Thermochronology Laboratory

Enables analysis of fission tracks in apatite and zircon to constrain the low-temperature time-temperature (t-T) history of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks.
Fluid Inclusion Lab (DGS)

Fluid Inclusion Lab (DGS)

The fluid inclusion laboratory is based around a modified USGS-type gas-flow heating/freezing stage capable of microthermometry of fluid inclusions over a range of 700° to -180°C. The stage is mounted on an Olympus BX51 microscope with a 40X long-working distance objective, 2X image magnifier, and digital camera for image capture. The microscope also has capability for UV fluorescence petrography. Complementary facilities are available for reflected and transmitted light petrography and image capture.
Geomicrobiology Laboratories

Geomicrobiology Laboratories

Facilities for culturing and characterizing aerobic and anaerobic prokaryotes (Eubacteria and Archaeabacteria) using a Coy anaerobic chamber (H2/N2 atmosphere), Constant temperature water baths, autoclave, incubator, horizontal and vertical gel rigs, refrigerated centrifuge, UV light box, Thermalcycler, phase-contrast and fluorescent microscope. HPLC and GC facilities for degradation studies.
High Temp. Stable Isotope Lab

High Temp. Stable Isotope Lab

This newly renovated lab is overseen by Jaime Barnes and houses a ThermoElectron MAT 253 with associated peripheral devices and instrumentation (TC/EA, GasBench II, Conflo IV, online silicate laser extraction line, general purpose vacuum extraction lines, Cl purification line). Instrumentation permits measurements of the stable H, C, N, O, S, and Cl isotope ratios of silicate, phosphate, and carbonate minerals, volcanic gases, air, and waters
High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility

High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility

Provides high resolution non-destructive, density maps of solid samples (rocks, fossils, etc) up to a maximum size of 50 cm diameter by 150 cm high (50 kg mass). Equipment: An industrial CT scanner that is an adaptation of medical CAT scanners.

HR-ICP Mass Spectrometers

Equipment available: Thermo Element2 HR-ICP-MS with ESI autosampler system for solutions; and Thermo Element2 HR-ICP-MS with Photonmachines Analyte G2 Excimer laser ablation system.
Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy

Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy

This lab uses Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) analyses to measure dissolved water and carbon in natural and experimental silicate glasses. The lab is equipped with a Thermo Electron Nicolet 6700 FTIR spectrometer and Continuum IR microscope, equipped with automated x-y-z stage and stage purge system so that the spectrometer, microscope, and sample position are all purged with dry air that has <10 ppm CO2 for very precise measurements of CO2 poor glasses. Dedicated polishing facilities are also available for sample preparation.
Isotope Clean Lab (Lassiter)

Isotope Clean Lab (Lassiter)

Within the Department of Geological Sciences there are three clean-room laboratories supplied with HEPA-filtered class 100 air where sample preparation and ion-exchange chromatography for isotopic analysis may be done under ultra-clean conditions, making possible very low analytical blanks (e.g., < 1 pg Pb for U-Pb geochronology, and <10 pg Sr). There are also two other laboratories with HEPA-filtered work stations where sample preparation and ion-exchange chromatography are performed. These labs are affiliated with the Mineral Separation Facility (see description).
Mineral Physics Lab

Mineral Physics Lab

The Mineral Physics Laboratory has a variety of diamond anvil cells (DACs) and relevant facilities that allow the study of planetary materials (minerals, fluids, glasses, single-crystal and polycrystalline compounds) under under extreme high pressure-temperature conditions. The DACs are integrated with laser and synchrotron X-ray spectroscopic techniques to probe material properties.

Mineral Separation Facility

Includes shatterboxes for sample pulverization, a crusher, a disc mill pulverizer, a Rogers table, a Wilfly table, a mica table, sieves, heavy liquids and Franz magnetic separators for mineral separation.
Paleomagnetic Lab

Paleomagnetic Lab

There are several aspects to our laboratory that make it different from others. One is our automatic handler system created at California Institute of Technology and adapted for our needs. Scientists and students can keep up with changes to our system by keeping in touch with the other 6 similar systems in the world and RAPID Consortium at http://rapid.gps.caltech.edu/. It also includes a cryogenic magnetometer and portable magnetic susceptibility meter (TerraPlus KT-10 Plus).

Petrographic Microscopes

Micro-scale imaging of rocks using directly observed visible light. Equipment: Low-power stereo microscopes, high resolution low-magnification scanned imaging, transmitted and reflected cross-polarized microscopy, high resolution 3D light microscopy (Edge R400) UV-stimulated fluorescence microscopy, microscope-mounted CL Photomicrography systems for all of these methods, both digital (Polaroid DMC) and conventional film.

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.
Scanning Electron Microscope Lab (BEG)

Scanning Electron Microscope Lab (BEG)

The Bureau houses two SEMs devoted primarily to research on unconventional reservoirs under projects supported by industry consortia (FRAC, MSRL, RCRL) and by government-sponsored programs (STARR, GCCC). One is a conventional SEM devoted to wide-area mosaic mapping for the study of microscale fracture populations in tight formations. The other is a high-resolution instrument largely devoted to the study of gas shales.
Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) Lab

Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) Lab

The TIMS Lab is a state-of-the-art facility capable of measuring Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, Re-Os, U-Th-Pb and U-series isotopes in a variety of materials, with the goal of resolving fundamental questions in the fields of geology, hydrology, archaeology and environmental science.
X-Ray Diffractometer (XRD)

X-Ray Diffractometer (XRD)

Installed in 2008, the Bruker D8 Advance X-Ray Diffractometer (XRD) provides routine, non-quantitative mineral identification in rock powders. The D8 XRD is now driven by automation software with integrated pattern analysis by Bruker EVA and Topas using the ICDD PDF-2 Minerals database. Samples for XRD must be carefully ground rock powders (no gritty lumps) or fine size fractions separated by centrifugation or gravity settling.

Center for Planetary Systems Habitability

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.

High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility

The High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility at The University of Texas at Austin (UTCT) is a national shared multi-user facility supported by the Instrumentation and Facilities Program of NSF's Earth Sciences (EAR) directorate. UTCT offers scientific researchers across the earth, biological and engineering sciences access to a completely nondestructive technique for visualizing features in the interior of opaque solid objects, and for obtaining digital information on their 3D geometries and properties.