Darrel M. Tremaine

Darrel M.  Tremaine
Research Engineering/ Scientist Associate V, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences
Lecturer, Environmental Science, Jackson School of Geosciences

Office: JGB , EPS

Abundant fresh water is a critical component of resilient human support services, food security, and a thriving economy. Changing climate, rapid urbanization, and the projected addition of 2.5 billion humans by 2050 has created a new socio-ecological paradigm. Semi-arid and coastal cities are facing water resource challenges that include flood management, drought, declining aquifers, rising sea level, and compromised water quality.

My research is focused at the nexus of changing climate, geochemistry, urban systems, and water availability. My research programs enhance societal and ecological resilience in three ways. First, I use geochemical proxies such as cave stalagmites and tree-rings to quantitatively reconstruct past changes climate and rainfall. Second, I use these quantitative records to validate and constrain downscaled regional climate models, allowing refined projections of spatiotemporal shifts in future rainfall amount, aquifer recharge, and ecological regimes. Third, I use environmental geochemistry to investigate how urban expansion impacts the quality of groundwater and surface waters. For example, I currently seek to understand the consequences of aging and failing tap and wastewater infrastructure in terms of aquifer and surface water contamination and degraded riparian ecosystem services.

Together these synergistic activities will ultimately provide a holistic and regionally quantifiable formulation of the range of future societal and environmental conditions under which sustainable urban systems must perform.

Areas of Expertise

Cave and karst exploration - Speleothem and karst trace element chemistry - Speleothem and karst stable and radiogenic isotopes - Paleoclimate and paleohydrology reconstructions - Environmental chemistry - Design of electromechanical field instrumentation - Cave monitoring and calibration of proxies to modern conditions - Fledgeling tree-ring dendrochronologist - Aquifers - Environmental Science - Energy and resource management - Mechanical Engineering - Manufacturing Engineering - Robot and machine process design - Efficiency and workflow

Research Locations

Current Research Programs & Projects

Planet Texas 2050: Urban Watershed Evolution: Temporal and Spatial Perspectives

Planet Texas 2050: PaleoTexas: Synthesizing data for reconstructing impacts of climate change on past ecosystems and human societies of central Texas

Central Texas cave monitoring: Inner Space Cavern, Natural Bridge Caverns, Westcave

South Pacific Convergence Zone Paleoclimatology: Niue Island

Northern Gulf of Mexico climate dynamics: Speleothem paleoproxy archives

NSF-Coupled Human Natural Systems: The New 100th Meridian: Urban Water Resiliency in a Climatic and Demographic Hot Spot

NSF-REU: Climate change impacts in semi-arid regions

Design and implementation of a new cave-anologue drip rate counter and calcite farm

Mitchell Summer Fellows REU

Texas Water Research Network ( view )NSF - Sustainable Urban Systems: Challenges to and Opportunities for Resilience in Rapidly Developing Urban Corridors ( view )

Bald cypress dendrochronologies in Austin watersheds under a range of urbanized conditions

Trace element and isotope geochemistry in the arid Guadalupe Mountains

Co-Chair, Facilitation Team, Texas Water Research Network (2019 - Present)

Research Program Coordinator, Environmental Science Institute (2019 - Present)

Lecturer, Environmental Science program (2019 - Present)

Co-Chair, Billy Carr Distinguished Teaching Fellowship, Environmental Science Institute (2019 - Present)

Facilitator, Hot Science - Cool Talks, Environmental Science Institute (2019 - Present)

Organizing Committee, NSF - Sustainable Urban Systems, Conference: Challenges to and Opportunities for Resilience in Rapidly Developing Urban Corridors; Austin, Texas; August 14-16, 2019 (2019)

Tremaine, D.M., Froelich, P.N. & Wang, Y. (2011). Speleothem calcite farmed in situ: Modern calibration of d18O and d13C paleoclimate proxies in a continuously-monitored natural cave system. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75, 4929-4950. (View)

Tremaine, D.M. & Froelich, P.N. (2013). Speleothem trace element signatures: A hydrologic geochemical study of modern cave dripwaters and farmed calcite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 121, 522-545. (View)

Tremaine, D.M.., Sinclair, D.J., Stoll, H.M., Lagerstrom, M., Carvajal, C.P. & Sherrell, R.M. (2016). A two-year automated dripwater chemistry study in a remote cave in the tropical south Pacific: Using [Cl ] as a conservative tracer for seasalt contribution of major cations. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 184, 289-310. (View)

Khazmutdinova, K.K., Nof, D., Tremaine, D.M., Ye, M. & Moore, M.N.J. (2019). A MINIMAL MODEL FOR PREDICTING VENTILATION RATES OF SUBTERRANEAN CAVES. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, 81(4), 264-275. (View)

Bixler, R.P., Atshan, S., Banner, J.L., Tremaine, D.M. & Mace, R.E. (2019). Assessing integrated sustainability research: use of social network analysis to evaluate scientific integration and transdisciplinarity in research networks. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 39, 103-113. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877343518301428?via=ihub.

Banner, J.L., Faust, K., Gray, S., Ganguly, A., Stillwell, A., Bixler, R.P., Niyogi, D., Pierce, S. & Tremaine, D.M. (2019). NSF Sustainable Urban Systems Conference Report (Award #1929941). https://www.esi.utexas.edu/files/NSF-SUS-Conference-Full-Report-University-of-Texas-at-Austin-1929941.pdf.

Nielsen-Gammon, J., Banner, J.L., Cook, B.I., Tremaine, D.M., Wong, C.I., Mace, R.E., Gao, H., Yang, Z.-L., Flores Gonzalez, M., Hoffpauir, R., Gooch, T. & Kloesel, K. (2020). Unprecedented Drought Challenges for Texas Water Resources in a Changing Climate: What Do Researchers and Stakeholders Need to Know?. Earth's Future, 8, e2020EF001552. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2020EF001552.

Tremaine, D.M. (2010). Speleothem paleoclimatology and modern speleochemistry proxies: Calcite farming in a continuously monitored cave. Master's Thesis, Florida State University. (View)

Tremaine, D.M. (2015). Dynamic physicochemical influences on speleothem paleoclimate proxy archives: A story of four north Florida caves. Ph.D. Dissertation, Florida State University. (View)

2020Fall EVS 141 Envir Sci Professionalism I-Wb

Hydrogeochemical investigations in urban riparian zones (Graduate or Undergraduate)
Hydrogeochemical investigations in urban riparian zones


Speleothems and cave monitoring (Graduate or Undergraduate)
Speleothems and cave monitoring


Dendrochronology and dendrochemistry (Graduate or Undergraduate)
Dendrochronology and dendrochemistry


Sustainable Urban Systems (Graduate or Undergraduate)
Sustainable Urban Systems


Electromechanical instrumentation design (Graduate or Undergraduate)
Electromechanical instrumentation design


Environmental Science Institute - Research
Environmental Science Institute - Research