The Jackson School of Geosciences is home to one of the largest and most diverse sedimentology & stratigraphy faculties in the nation. When U.S. News & World Report last ranked sedimentology & stratigraphy graduate programs, UT Austin was No. 1. The program has a long tradition of excellence. It is the birthplace of depositional systems analysis, a fundamental approach for relating the spatial distribution of sedimentary rocks to their environments of deposition and a school of thought that has been widely influential in both academia and industry.
Major advances in the petrology and diagenesis of sedimentary rocks can also be tied to the program. Marine geology and geophysics has become an equally strong component through expertise across the Jackson School. The program was among the first to use multichannel seismic reflection techniques to understand the geologic history of continental margins around the world, and has pioneered the academic use of 3D seismic imaging for a variety of applications, from basin history and evolution to reservoir assessment. The program is currently focused in the areas of global change, geochemistry and diagenesis, sequence stratigraphy, seismic stratigraphy and geomorphology, surficial processes and sedimentary process modeling, and pore-scale to full field reservoir characterization.
The sedimentology/stratigraphy research community at JSG includes over 30 Ph.D. faculty, research scientists, and senior research scientists spread across the Department of Geological Sciences, Bureau of Economic Geology, and Institute for Geophysics. This group provides as wide a range of areas of research specialization as any similar program in the nation.
The Department of Geological Sciences group has core areas in seismic and sequence stratigraphic analysis of both clastic and carbonate systems, diagenesis and geochemistry of carbonates and clastics including extensive stable and radiogenic isotope labs, physical and numerical modeling of eolian, fluvial, and shallow to deep marine transport systems with an emphasis on the construction of sedimentary deposits, petrology, basin analysis, and the application of field, petrologic, chemical, and isotopic methods for studying chemical evolution of groundwater and ancient oceans.
The Institute for Geophysics is focused on large multidisciplinary research programs looking at 2D and 3D geophysical studies of stratigraphic evolution of marine and lacustrine basins worldwide. The sedimentology/stratigraphy group at the Institute makes use of a wide range of geophysical tools and datasets to attack problems of global geodynamics and climate change.
The Bureau of Economic Geology has research efforts in clastic and carbonate sequence stratigraphy, diagenesis and reservoir characterization, as well as seismic geomorphologic analysis of 3D seismic data, visualization of subsurface systems, mudrock depositional systems, basin-forming processes, and classic and digital outcrop analysis. They are working on basins and outcrop areas all over the world to answer questions concerning the fundamental processes that act to control rock properties in the subsurface.
| My current research addresses the past evolution of impact crater lakes on Mars, Earth, and elsewhere with fieldwork, satellite observations and landscape modelling.|
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
Innovative Detrital Provenance Studies - Double Dating PLUSGraduate
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 NW Himalayas, the N & S Pyrenees, the Sevier FTB, Permian Basin and other foreland basin. New projects include provenance studies along rifted and passive continental margins such the Gulf of Mexico, the central Atlantic Margins in Canada, USA, Portugal, and Morocco.
Posted by: Daniel Stockli
Fundamental and applied research on fractures, particularly as these studies apply to petroleum reservoirs, is conducted under the auspices of the Fracture Research and Application Consortium at The University of Texas at Austin. The academic program of research, mentoring and teaching is led by staff of the Bureau of Economic Geology, the Department of Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering and the Department of Geological Sciences. Students in the Energy & Earth Resources Graduate Program also participate in FRAC sponsored research projects. For further information on opportunities for fracture studies within the program see the FRAC pages on opportunities in Geology, Petroleum Engineering, Geophysics, and Energy Economics. FRAC welcomes Visiting Scientists from industry and from other academic institutions. Contact Steve Laubach for more information about these opportunities. A key part of the FRAC academic program is the Structural Diagenesis Initiative, a new teaching and mentoring perspective on interacting mechanical and chemical processes at high crustal levels in the Earth. For more information on the initiative see the Structural Diagenesis Initiative web site. If you are a prospective student, please see the admissions information on the Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering or Jackson School of Geosciences web sites.
Posted by: Stephen Laubach
MSc or PhD StudentGraduate
Our team is almost always interested in recruiting new graduate students who are interested in paleoecology, marine communities, carbonate sedimentology, and/or geobiology.
Posted by: Rowan Martindale
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
Purpose of position: To conduct research in numerical simulation of fluid flow using both traditional Darcy flow simulators as well as Invasion Percolation methods, sandbox flow modeling, and development of a strong publication record on the topic. Essential functions: Develop numerical simulations of fluid flow CO2 in mm to m scale models informed by geologic depositional heterogeneity. Assist in designing and implementing laboratory validation experiments of sandbox flow modeling to support theoretical and numerical simulations. Publish results in peer reviewed outlets, assist in project reporting and make presentations, as needed to support project. Required qualifications: PhD in hydrogeology, environmental engineering, or closely related geoscience field earned within the last three years. Relevant laboratory experience with sandbox scale flow experiments. Demonstrated research interest in forward and inverse modeling of subsurface flow and transport pertaining multi-phase flow. Preferred qualifications Demonstrated strong oral and written communication skills. Demonstrated ability to conduct experimental studies. Demonstrated experience in presenting and publishing results, including CO2 or CCS.
Posted by: Tip Meckel
Undergraduate Research: Inclusive Geoscience Education and Research Environmental Reconstruction in Holocene Estuaries on the Modern Texas Continental ShelfGraduate - 1 year
Sea level rise is one of the most pressing impacts of climate change facing coastal communities. A variety of mitigation efforts on the local and regional level (beach nourishment, marsh restoration, coastal barriers, etc.) can provide some measure of protection for coastal communities. These large engineering projects require huge quantities of sand to complete, and sand is not as common on the seafloor as you might expect. On northern Texas shelf, offshore Galveston Bay, a few sand banks exist, but much more material is buried in drowned river valleys, which were carved by rivers when sea level was ~120 meters lower and dry land extended all the way to the edge of the continental shelf. These rivers deposited sand in point bars, which were then buried in estuarine mud as sea level rose and the river valley became a bay. Sand was also deposited in this estuary as bay head deltas, flood tide deltas, and over wash fans. UT is currently involved in an extensive project to find and map (using seismic surveying and sediment cores) the extent of Holocene sand deposits in the Trinity and Sabine river valleys offshore modern Galveston Bay. For this project, the REU student will conduct grain size analysis on sediment cores collected offshore Galveston Bay to determine the overall sedimentology and stratigraphy of these environments. This student will also use marine microfossils (benthic foraminifera) to determine the depositional environment of the muds deposited in between the sand deposits to determine the overall environmental evolution of the Holocene estuary system. This work will help identify sand resources for future coastal protection projects in the Galveston area. This work will also help reconstruct the history of the Holocene estuary and barrier island system; understanding how ancient barrier island systems responded to different rates of sea level rise during the Holocene can help constrain how barrier islands will respond to similar rates of sea level rise today. This project will involve work on a Malvern Mastersizer laser grain size analyzer, managing grain size datasets, and microfossil picking on a microscope. Prior experience with any of these things is not required. Apply through the Champions of Diversity website: https://jsg-gen.squarespace.com/mentee-application
Posted by: Christopher Lowery
Undergraduate Research AssistantUndergraduate - ongoing
The position entails working as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA) as part of a research team in support of an oil and gas industry funded project which focuses on the depositional history of the Gulf of Mexico. URAs work with geophysical data, geographic information systems, geosoftware and scientific literature to accomplish GBDS research goals. This position is ongoing: 20 hours per week during Fall and Spring semesters. Up to 40 hours during summer.
Posted by: Jonathan Virdell
CRESSLE: Community Resilience integrated into an Earth System Science Learning Ecosystem (NSF Cultural Transformation of the Geoscience Community Program)Graduate
CRESSLE represents an emerging approach to environmental resilience that emphasizes bidirectional learning between universities and communities. These teams will comprise a ‘Community of Practice’ to design and implement research projects addressing community challenges and Environmental Justice in three themes: Water Resources, Climate Resilience, and Communities & Landscapes.
Posted by: Jay Banner
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 Gulf Coast Carbon Center (GCCC) seeks to apply its technical and educational resources to implement geologic storage of anthropogenic carbon dioxide on an aggressive time scale with a focus in a region where large-scale reduction of atmospheric releases is needed and short term action is possible.
The Edger Forum is a consortium of industry participants sponsoring Education & Research in Exploration Geophysical Technology.
The Fracture Research and Application Consortium (FRAC) is an alliance of scientists from the Bureau and the departments of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering and Geological Sciences that seeks fundamental understanding of fractures and fracture processes dedicated to conquering the challenges of reservoir fractures.
The UT Gulf Basin Depositional Synthesis Project (GBDS) is an ongoing, industry-supported, comprehensive synthesis of Cenozoic fill of the entire Gulf of Mexico basin. The results are distributed as a digital data base that is updated regularly. The project has led to major new contributions to the understanding of the depositional history and framework of the Gulf of Mexico Basin. The project has focused on refining sequence correlations between the continental margin and deep basin stratigraphies, mapping sedimentary transport axes and paleogeographies through time, defining the evolving roles of submarine canyons, retrogradational margins, and shelf-margin delta systems in localizing in time and space sand transport to the slope and abyssal plain, and better understanding regional controls on reservoir facies and their deposition.).
The Latin America & Caribbean Energy Program will create, foster and maintain a regional outreach network that will nurture cooperative and frank discussions of issues related to sustainable development of energy resources and environmental stewardship. The network will include representatives from governments, universities, private sector, multilateral agencies, industry and professional associations and other stakeholders.
The Mudrock Systems Research Laboratory (MSRL) is dedicated to the twin goals of unraveling fundamental scientific aspects of the most common sedimentary rock type and devising applications of this understanding to the characterization of an important and growing unconventional resource.
The Quantitative Clastics Laboratory (QCL) carries out geologic studies of the processes, tectonics, and quantitative morphology of basins around the world, with research that emphasizes the use of mega-merged 3D seismic data sets for quantitative seismic geomorphologic study of the basin fill, evaluation of source-to-sink relationships between the shelf, slope and deep basin and analyses of the influence of tectonics and fluids on the evolution of these complex continental margin settings.
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.
Structural diagenesis is a new perspective on interaction of mechanical and chemical processes at high crustal levels in the Earth. SDI promotes the growth of this new discipline.
The UT GeoFluids studies the state and evolution of pressure, stress, deformation and fluid migration through experiments, theoretical analysis, and field study. This industry-funded consortium is dedicated to producing innovative concepts that couple geology and fluid flow.
Affiliated UT Programs & Centers
CFSES is one of only two centers out of 46 EFRCs with focus on subsurface energy. Our goal is a scientific understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological subsurface processes from the very small scale to the very large scale so that we can predict the behavior of CO2 and other byproducts of the energy production that may need to be stored in the subsurface. At this aim, we need to integrate and expand our knowledge of subsurface phenomena across scientific disciplines using both experimental and modeling methodologies to better understand and quantify the behavior at conditions far from equilibrium. The unique aspect of our research is the approach of the uncertainty and of the complexity of the fluids in the geologic media from the molecular scale to the basin scale and their integration in computational tools to better predict the long term behavior of subsurface energy byproduct storage.
The Energy Institute has been established at the University of Texas at Austin to provide the State of Texas and the Nation guidance for sustainable energy security through the pursuit of research and education programs - good policy based on good science. The Institute will determine the areas of research and instruction in consultation with an Institute Advisory Board, faculty and staff at the University of Texas at Austin, the private energy sector, public utilities, non-governmental organizations, and the general public. The economic future of the State of Texas, and our Nation, depends upon the viability of sustainable energy resources. The mission of the Energy Institute is to provide the transformational changes through research and instruction that are required for this State's and Nation's sustainable energy security.
Alaska FieldworkPosted by Peter P Flaig
Photo set includes images of fieldwork done on the North Slope of Alaska from 2005-2013
Antarctic FieldworkPosted by Peter P Flaig
Photos of fieldwork in the Central Transantarctic Mountains during the 2003-2004 and 2010-2011 field seasons.
Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway FieldworkPosted by Peter P Flaig
Photos of fieldwork on clastic wedges of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming