Research Interests
-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

Current Projects
Current projects that Sean, his students, and colleagues are working on tectonic and climate interactions in the St. Elias Mountains and Surveyor submarine fan, geohazards and margin evolution of subduction and transform faulting in Alaska, Sumatra, and Japan, and the geologic processes and environmental effects of the Cretaceous-Paleogene Chicxulub meteor impact. To test some key hypotheses of how glacial erosion can perturb tectonics in 2013 Sean served as co-chief on the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 341: Southeast Alaska tectonics and climate. In 2014, Sean led the seismic imaging in a multidisciplinary cruise to the unexplored Sabrina Coast shelf in East Antarctica. In 2016, Sean will serve as co-chief science on the joint International Ocean Discovery and Continental Drilling Programs Expedition 364: Drilling the K-Pg Chicxulub impact crater.

Areas of Expertise

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


Research Locations



Current Research Programs & Projects

Tectonic and climate interactions in the Surveyor submarine fan ( view )Geohazards and margin evolution of subduction and transform faulting in Alaska, Sumatra, and Japan ( view )Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 341: Southeast Alaska tectonics and climate ( view )International Ocean Discovery and Continental Drilling Programs Expedition 364: Drilling the K-Pg Chicxulub impact crater ( view )

Select Past Research

St. Elias Mountains tectonic and climate interactions

Signature Course Essential Elements Award for Excellence in Teaching Oral Communication - University of Texas at Austin (2015)

Jackson School Outstanding Researcher Award - University of Texas at Austin (2015)

Directors Circle of Excellence - UTIG (2010 - 2014)

Consortium of Ocean Leadership Distinguished Lecturer - COL (2007 - 2008)

Jackson School of Geosciences Research Achievement Award - University of Texas at Austin (2007 - 2009)

Joint Oceanographic Institutions Distinguished Lectureship - JOI/USSAC (2007 - 2008)

Jackson School of Geosciences Research Fellowship - University of Texas at Austin (2006 - 2007)

Young Scientist Fellowship - Jackson School of Geosciences (2005 - 2006)

Japanese Marine Science and Technology honorarium - Shinkai 6500 cruise (2000)

Postdoctoral Fellow - Palisades Geophysical Institute (1999 - 2002)

Keynote Speaker, International Core-Log-Seismic Integration Workshop, to be entered (2005)

Workshop, Arc-Continent Collisions, GSA Penrose Conference (2005)

Workshop, International 3-D Seismic , Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (2005)

Workshop, Downhole Tools Workshop, IODP (2004)

Member, Measurements and Science Technology Panels , IODP (2003 - 2005)

Co-convenor , Workshop, Joint NSF-JOI Tectonic-Climate Interplay Workshop (2003)

3rd International Conference , Large Meteorite Impacts, (2003)

Member, Interim Scientific Measurements Panel (iSciMP) , IODP (2002 - 2003)

Workshop, Midlife Refit, R/V Maurice Ewing (2002)

Conference, Riser Drilling in Nankai Trough, NanTroSEIZE conference (2002)

Conference, U.S. Participation , IODP (CUSP) (2002)

Leg 190/196 2nd Post-cruise Meeting , Kochi, Japan (2002)

Member, Advisory committee , University of Delaware research vessel (2001 - 2002)

NSF-MARGINS , Source-to-Sink planning workshop , in Lake Tahoe, California (2000)

PANGA GPS workshop, Interface with EARTHSCOPE's Plate Boundary Observatory, (2000)

Substitute Lecturer, Seismology, Rocks and Minerals, Sedimentology, and Geographic Information Systems, Lehigh University (1997 - 1998)

Teaching Assistant, Seismology, Geographic Information Systems, Structural Geology, Hydrogeology, and Introduction to Geology, Lehigh University (1995 - 1998)

Workshop, Mendocino triple junction, Menlo Park, California (1994)

Member, American Geophysical Union

Member, Geological Society of America

Member, Union of Concerned Scientists

Graduate Students

John M Swartz, Ph.D., expected 2019 (Co-supervisor)
Research interests: Sedimentology/stratigraphy, coastal and nearshore processes, quantitative geomorphology, marine geophysics, statistical methods in geoscience

Marina C Frederik, Ph.D., expected 2016 (Supervisor)
Marina is working on a project titled 'Morphology and structure of the accretionary prism offshore North Sumatra, Indonesia and Kodiak Island, USA'

Maureen A Walton, Ph.D., expected 2016 (Supervisor)
The title of Maureen's dissertation is "Tectonic and sedimentary processes of the southeast Alaska margin." She is a part of the St. Elias Erosion/Tectonics (STEEP) team at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, studying both structural and geologic processes in the southeast Gulf of Alaska. The first chapter of her work focuses on the deposition of the Baranof deep-sea fan, and the other chapters involve earthquake tectonics and large-scale strike-slip plate motion.

Sebastian G Ramirez, Ph.D., expected 2016 (Supervisor)
I am currently working on two sub-projects. The first aims at understanding the conditions of Kumano forearc basin (offshore Japan) nucleation and early evolution through 3D-seismic and sandstone petrography provenance analyses. The second involves the study of the Cretaceous-to-Recent sedimentary record in the northernmost Neuquen basin (western Argentina) through traditional field work and detrital zircon analysis. My goal is to better constrain the timing and characteristics of early Andean compression and to test whether or not the observed deformation patterns might be associated with subducting slab shallowing/steepening cycles.

Aleksandr Montelli, M.S., expected 2015 (Supervisor)
My project focuses on seismic stratigraphy and sedimentary architecture of Bering Trough, Gulf of Alaska and Totten Glacier, East Antarctica. Integration of high resolution seismic data with ages acquired during IODP Expedition will allow to accurately reconstruct glacier dynamics in Gulf of Alaska, which is important for constraining numerical models. In East Antarctica the research goal is to analyze the landforms evident of past temperate glacier activity and to make a comparison with those observed in Alaska.

Jason C Sanford, M.S., expected 2014 (Supervisor)
Jason is an M.S. Candidate in Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is currently exploring geopressure history and geomechanics of reservoir-scale sand injections in the Panoche Giant Injection Complex in central California as the second component of his M.S. thesis work. Efforts include mapping of sand injections in the PGIC in order to construct 3-D physical and 2-D geomechanical models of sand injection and understanding and modeling hydraulic fracture initiation and propagation and fluid-sand slurry transport during sand injection. As the first component of his M.S. thesis work, Jason mapped the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary deposit in the Gulf of Mexico, employing regional seismic, well-log, and core interpretation in order to evaluate the basin's response to the Chicxulub Impact.

Robert S Reece, Ph.D., expected 2013 (Supervisor)

Johnathon Osmond (Committee Member)
I conduct structural interpretation and analysis using outcrop, seismic, and well data to better understand the structural architecture of Texas basins for seismicity research. Research Interests: - Crustal deformation, particularly brittle processes - Geometry of structural hydrocarbon traps and the sealing capability faults - Geophysical techniques in support of structure, tectonic, and petroleum studies - Geologic field methods and geophysical data acquisition

Kylara Martin, 2012 (Supervisor)


"Subduction Zones: A story of deformation, dewatering, and great earthquakes", Foster-Hewitt Lecture Series, Lehigh Universi, Bethlehem, PA (2004)

"3-D images of the outer Nankai accretionary margin: Reconstructing a prism", Seminar Series, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL (2003)

"Tectonic interplay between oblique subduction and Mendocino triple junction migration along the southern Cascadia subduction zone, offshore northern California", to be entered, Seaside, OR (2000)

"Tectonic interplay between oblique subduction and Mendocino triple junction migration along the southern Cascadia subduction zone, offshore northern California", to be entered, Seaside, OR (2000)

"Mendocino triple junction influence on and neotectonic implications of seismically imaged Quaternary faulting in the offshore Eel River forearc basin, northern California", 2000 PANGA meeting, Corvallis, OR (2000)

YearSemesterCourse
2016Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2016Summer GEO f397F Marine Geo & Geophys Field Crs
2016Summer GEO f348K Marine Geo/Geophys Field Crs
2016Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Marine Geo And Geophys
2016Spring GEO 381T Marine Tectonics
2016Spring GEO 338T Marine Tectonics
2015Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2015Summer GEO f397F Marine Geo & Geophys Field Crs
2015Summer GEO f348K Marine Geo/Geophys Field Crs
2015Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Marine Geo And Geophys
2015Spring GEO 381T Marine Tectonics
2015Spring GEO 338T Marine Tectonics
2014Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Marine Geo And Geophys
2014Summer GEO f397F Marine Geo & Geophys Field Crs
2014Summer GEO f348K Marine Geo/Geophys Field Crs
2014Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Marine Geo And Geophys
2014Spring GEO 381T Marine Tectonics
2014Spring GEO 338T Marine Tectonics

Research in Marine Geology and Geophysics (Graduate)
There are opportunities for research within Marine Geology and Geophysics.