Our research program is working to make the Jackson School of Geosciences one of the world's leading centers for planetary research. Scientists in the planetary theme are exploring geology across the solar system, with special emphasis on the Moon, Earth, Mars, asteroids, and icy satellites. JSG researchers combine mission involvement, data analysis, theoretical work, and terrestrial analog field investigations to advance the cutting edge of planetary geosciences, astrobiology, and solar system exploration.

Research in the Planetary Sciences theme focuses on the following subthemes:

Faculty & Research Scientists

William A AmbroseWilliam A Ambrose
Sedimentology, subsurface mapping of clastic depositional systems, oil and gas production analysis, coalbed methane
Jaime D BarnesJaime D Barnes
Stable isotope geochemistry, metamorphism and volatile transport in subduction zones, fluid-rock interaction and metasomatism, geochemical cycling, stable chlorine isotopes
Donald D BlankenshipDonald D Blankenship
Antarctic ice sheets, robotic space missions to Europa, airborne and ground-based geophysical techniques (including laser altimetry, radar sounding, seismic reflection and refraction), West Antarctic rift system, West Antarctic Ice Sheet, climate change, global warming, remote sensing
William D CarlsonWilliam D Carlson
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.
Jacob A CovaultJacob A Covault
sedimentology, stratigraphy, marine geology
Cliff FrohlichCliff Frohlich
Seismology, deep earthquakes, Texas earthquakes, moonquakes, statistical analysis of earthquake catalogs
James E GardnerJames 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
Sean S GulickSean S Gulick
Tectonic processes, tectonic-climate interactions and geohazards of convergent margins and transitional tectonic environments Role of catastrophism in the geologic record including impact cratering, hurricanes, and tectonic events Marine geophysical imaging at nested resolutions and ground truth through drilling, coring, logging, and submersibles
Mark A HelperMark 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 ...
Jack HoltJack Holt (Theme Lead)
Mars ice and paleoclimate, Antarctica, glaciers, airborne and orbital geophysics, hydrogeophysics, paleomagnetism. See Jack's research group webpage: http://www.ig.utexas.edu/people/staff/jack/mrg/
Martin P JacksonMartin P Jackson
Salt tectonics, tectonics of sedimentary basins, evolution of divergent and convergent continental margins, rheology of evaporites, and geology of Mars.
Richard A KetchamRichard A Ketcham
High-resolution X-ray computed tomography, CT scanning, 3D image analysis, fission-track dating, thermochronology, structural geology, tectonics, digital morphology, trabecular bone
Wonsuck  KimWonsuck Kim
Quantitative stratigraphy, Shoreline dynamics, Morphodynamcis, Sediment transport, Deltaic sedimentation, River delta restoration, Coupled mathematical modeling and experimental stratigraphy, Planetary surface processes.
Gary A KocurekGary A Kocurek
Sedimentology, geomorphology and stratigraphy of aeolian systems; fluid flow and grain transport; bedform dynamics and pattern evolution of dune fields; the stratigraphic record of aeolian and related systems on Earth and Mars.
John C LassiterJohn 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
Joe LevyJoe Levy
Permafrost, Antarctica, Planetary geology, Mars, Geomorphology, Remote Sensing, GIS
Jung-Fu  LinJung-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
Randall MarrettRandall Marrett
Structural geology, tectonics, deformation processes in the upper continental crust, folds, faults, opening-mode fractures, fluid flow through fracture systems, applications of fractals, natural hazards
David  MohrigDavid Mohrig
Sedimentary Geology, Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, Geomorphology, Rivers, Deltas, Coastlines, Submarine Channels, Geohazards, Sediment-Gravity Currents, Sediment Transport, Seismic Interpretation, Basin Analysis
Timothy B RoweTimothy B Rowe
Vertebrate paleontology, evolution and development of the vertebrate skeleton, phylogenetic systematics, the early history of mammals and their extinct relatives among Synapsida, the history of birds and their extinct relatives among Dinosauria, the history of other amniotes, high-resolution X-ray computed tomography, CT scanner, DigiMorph, informatics
Daniel  StockliDaniel Stockli
Thermo-/Geochronology, Tectonics and Structural Geology, Isotopic Provenance Analysis, Archeometry, Geothermal Exploration, and Thermal Maturation
Clark R WilsonClark R Wilson
Geophysics, including gravity, space geodesy, and applied seismology
Lesli J WoodLesli J Wood
Outcrop analysis of clastic systems architecture and sequence stratigraphy; seismic geomorphology and sedimentology of clastic systems; tectonics and sedimentation of active margin basins; shallow hydrocarbon features and shale diapirism; remotely sensed study (lidar, 2-D, 3-D and multicomponent seismic multibeam bathymetry and sonar) of clastic depositional systems.
Duncan A YoungDuncan A Young
Ice-rock physical interactions in an ice cap context, tectonic evolution of the younger planetary crusts

Postdoctoral Researchers

Nicholas J DygertNicholas J Dygert
I utilize [bold]field studies[/bold], [bold]numerical models[/bold], [bold]experimental petrology[/bold], and [bold]rock deformation experiments[/bold] to better understand the physicochemical evolution of the lunar and terrestrial mantles.
Cyril Grima
Feras A Habbal
Krista M SoderlundKrista M Soderlund
Astrobiology, Cryosphere, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Magnetohydrodynamics, Planetary Science

Adjunct/Emeritus Faculty‚Äč & Research Scientists

Robert L FolkRobert L Folk
Sedimentary Petrology. studying mineralogy and nannobiology of hot springs in Italy, the role of nannobacteria in creating carbonate rocks. work on cherts, opals, sulfides of iron and other metals, and metal oxides, nannobacteria in martian meteorites and weathering of igneous rocks by nannobacteria under a variety of conditions in Tahiti, West Texas, and Lombardia, Italy.
Lorena G MoscardelliLorena G Moscardelli
Yosio  NakamuraYosio Nakamura
Geophysics, lunar and planetary seismology, ocean-bottom seismometry

Research Staff

Bruce L CutrightBruce L Cutright
David R Edey
Robert L FolkRobert L Folk
Sedimentary Petrology. studying mineralogy and nannobiology of hot springs in Italy, the role of nannobacteria in creating carbonate rocks. work on cherts, opals, sulfides of iron and other metals, and metal oxides, nannobacteria in martian meteorites and weathering of igneous rocks by nannobacteria under a variety of conditions in Tahiti, West Texas, and Lombardia, Italy.
Romy D HannaRomy D Hanna
Planetary geology, carbonaceous chondrites, Mars geology, remote sensing, thermal infrared spectroscopy, high-resolution x-ray computed tomography (CT), 3D image analysis and processing, scientific software development
Eric W JamesEric W James
Isotope geochemistry, igneous petrology, analytical chemistry
Joseph A MacgregorJoseph A Macgregor
glaciology, radar, geophysics
Nathaniel R MillerNathaniel R Miller
Sedimentary geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, Earth system evolution, Q-ICP-MS, microanalytics, GIS, Neoproterozoic climate
Lorena G MoscardelliLorena G Moscardelli
Yosio  NakamuraYosio Nakamura
Geophysics, lunar and planetary seismology, ocean-bottom seismometry
Donggao  ZhaoDonggao Zhao
Electron microbeam and X-ray techniques, mantle mineralogy and petrology, environmental mineralogy, nuclear waste management, and materials science.

Graduate Students

Benjamin T CardenasBenjamin T Cardenas
sedimentary geology, Mars
Mackenzie D Day
Romy D HannaRomy D Hanna
Planetary geology, carbonaceous chondrites, Mars geology, remote sensing, thermal infrared spectroscopy, high-resolution x-ray computed tomography (CT), 3D image analysis and processing, scientific software development
Stefano  NerozziStefano Nerozzi
Eric I Petersen
Eric Petersen is a PhD student working on Martian lobate debris aprons (LDAs), strange landforms interpreted as massive debris-covered glacier systems. As remnants of past obliquity-driven glacial cycles on Mars, these features are valuable indicators of Amazonian palaeoclimate. Eric's work involves using SHARAD orbital radar sounding data in conjunction with ice flow modeling and geomorphic analysis to provide constraints on LDA formation and history. He is also interested in geophysical studies of debris-covered glaciers and ...
Katherine ShoverKatherine Shover
Mars, planetary geology, geomorphology, sedimentary geology
Graduate courses in the Planetary theme area focus on understanding the physical, chemical, and biological processes that shape planetary surfaces, atmospheres, and interiors. A wide variety of courses across several departments are available to graduate students interested in perusing research and training in this multidisciplinary field. No fixed curriculum is required for planetary graduate students, allowing students to work with their advisors to assemble an individualized program of courses to best suit their needs. Courses listed below are offered through the Department of Geological Sciences (GEO), the Department of Astronomy (AST), Chemistry (CH), and Aerospace Engineering (ASE). Not all courses are offered every term. An updated list of GEO courses being offered during Fall 2013 is listed at the end of this page.

Graduate Courses

GEO 391 Meteoritics and Early Solar System Processes
GEO 391 Planetary geology and geophysics
GEO S391 Field Methods in Planetary Geology
GEO 380G Construction and Interpretation of 3-D Stratigraphy
GEO 384C Seismology I
GEO 380C Advanced Structural Geology
GEO 380N Sequence Stratigraphy
GEO 381E Brittle Structure
GEO 381G Geomicrobiology
GEO 380T Geoclimatology
GEO 382G Fluid Physics for Geologists
GEO 383 Clastic Depositional Systems
GEO 383D Numerical Methods I: Computational Methods in Geological Sciences
GEO 383G Geochemistry of Sedimentary Rocks
GEO 383P Potential Field Applications in Geophysics
GEO 384D Physics of Earth
GEO 384M Inverse Theory
GEO 384F Computational Methods for Geophysics
GEO 384R Geophysical Time Series Analysis
GEO 386G GIS and GPS Applications in Earth Sciences
GEO 385Q Mathematical Methods in Geophysics
GEO 387D Climate Dynamics
GEO 387F Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans
GEO 387H Physical Climatology
GEO 389P Digital Methods in Morphology
GEO 390M Thermodynamics of Geologic Processes
GEO 191 Proposal Writing
GEO 291 Geomorphology/Glaciology Seminar
GEO 391 Essentials of Flow in Porous Media
GEO 391 Field Stratigraphy: Guadalupe Mountains
GEO 391 Hydrogeophysics
GEO 391 Morphodynamics
GEO 391Q Topics in Quarternary Geology

AST 364 Solar System Astronomy
AST 380E Radiative Processes and Radiative Transfer
AST 381 Planetary Astrophysics
AST309L The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Intelligence
AST 383 Astroseismology
AST 392J Astronomical Instrumentation

CH391L Astrobiology for Chemists & Biochemists
CH391L Biochemistry and Astrobiology

ASE 382Q Fluid Mechanics.
ASE 387P Flight Mechanics, Guidance, Navigation, and Control.
ASE 388P Celestial Mechanics.
ASE 389P Satellite Applications.

Computational Courses: https://www.ices.utexas.edu/graduate-studies/course-information/

Undergraduate Courses

GEO 303C Introduction to the Solar System
UGS 303 Extraterrestrial Life

Geosciences Courses Currently Scheduled for 2013-2014

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

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

Aerogeophysical SystemsAerogeophysical Systems
UTIG has developed, maintained, and operated a suite of aerogeophysical instrumentation since the early 1990s with continual improvements since inception. The suite was installed aboard a Dehavilland DHC-6 ("Twin Otter") up to 2005 and aboard a Basler BT-67 (a version of DC-3T -- a Douglas DC-3 refitted with turboprop engines) since 2008. The current instruments are: High Capability Radar Sounder (HiCARS); Multibeam, Scanning Photon Counting Lidar; Cesium Vapor Magnetometer; Gravimeter; Dual-frequency, carrier-phase Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS); Laser Altimeter; Two GPS-aided Inertial Measurement Units; Three-Axis Fluxgate Magnetometer; System Control, Data Acquisition, and Real-time QC and Monitoring functions.

Airborne Optech LIDAR SystemAirborne Optech LIDAR System
For fine-scale topographic mapping

Digital Morphology LibraryDigital Morphology Library
The Digital Morphology library (www.digimorph.org) is a National Science Foundation-funded initiative offering 2D and 3D visualizations of the internal and external structure of living and extinct vertebrates, and a growing number of non-vertebrates. Images are generated using the world's first high-resolution X-ray CT scanner in an academic science department, in the CT lab at the Jackson School.

Optec Laser Scanners (ILRIS)Optec Laser Scanners (ILRIS)
The Optec ILRIS Laser Scanners are part of the BEG RCRL/JSG consortium. They are state-of-the-art ground-based terrestrial laser scanning/mapping devices, that, when coupled with the Innovmetric Polyworks software, allows high-resolution mapping of earth-surface features,with accuracies of a few cm. These tools are part of the aresenal of tools that the RCRL uses to generate digital 3D earth models for carbonate reservoir analogs.

Paleomagnetic LabPaleomagnetic 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).

UT Sediment Transport and Earth-surface Processes (STEP) BasinUT Sediment Transport and Earth-surface Processes (STEP) Basin
The STEP Basin is an experimental flume designed to physically model morphodynamic and stratigraphic evolution of the fluviodeltaic system. It is 4 m wide, 5 m long, and 1.5 m tall. This facility is one of only three in the world with a computer-controlled basement motion, which can mimic 1) fore-hinge (passive margin), 2) back-hinge (foreland basin), and 3) lateral tilting subsidence patterns.

Walter Geology LibraryWalter Geology Library
The primary research collections of the library presently include more than 100,000 book and journal volumes and 46,000 geologic maps, among them the publications of the U.S. Geological Survey, most state geological surveys, and those of many foreign countries. Regional emphasis of the collection is on the Southwestern United States, Texas, and Mexico. The Institute and Bureau also have extensive libraries related to their specific research areas.

Wind Tunnel/Flume Lab
The Department of Geological Sciences maintains two wind tunnels for experiments in aeolian transport. One tunnel (0.5 m2 X 10 m) features a long transport section that ends in a slipface. The second tunnel features a rotating table (1 m in diameter) that can be used to simulate any range of wind directions.

Affiliated UT Programs & Centers

Center for Space Research
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.
Texas Advanced Computing Center
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 Groups

Jack Holt's Research Group
Our research group is comprised of graduate students, undergraduates, technical staff and visiting students all focused on understanding both the current state of Mars ice and processes governing the distribution, history, and role of ice in Mars climate evolution. Our primary tool is orbital radar sounding, a technique that is relatively new for Mars, and for planetary exploration in general. Two radar sounders, MARSIS and SHARAD, are currently in orbit at Mars. Due to Dr. Holt's role as a Co-Investigator on SHARAD, we are very busy with the acquisition and analysis of new data. Building on UTIG's extensive experience in airborne radar sounding of ice on Earth, we have developed new analysis techniques specifically for SHARAD that give us unique capabilities and put us at the forefront of this exciting field.