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Graduate Catalog | 2005-2007
John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences

Geological Sciences

to courses in GEO Geological Sciences | related courses »

Master of Arts
Master of Science in Geological Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy

Facilities for Graduate Work

Austin provides an ideal base from which to conduct research projects in all aspects of geological science. The University's central Texas location gives students ready access to exposures of Phanerozoic siliciclastic and carbonate strata and Precambrian igneous and metamorphic basement rocks. The presence of a karst aquifer beneath the city of Austin allows students to study issues related to urbanization, the demand for water, and contamination. Field-intensive studies for master's and doctoral degrees are continually in progress, in Texas and in many other states. Field research is currently being conducted on every continent and ocean basin.

Analytical facilities are comprehensive and up-to-date. The electron-microbeam laboratory houses a JEOL JXA-8200 electron microprobe with five wavelength-dispersive spectrometers and an energy-dispersive spectrometer, as well as a Phillips/FEI XL30 environmental scanning electron microscope and a JEOL T330A scanning electron microscope, both with energy-dispersive spectrometers and cathodoluminescence detectors with RGB color filtration. Two Micromass inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers are available for chemical and isotope analysis of diverse geologic materials: the IsoProbe, a magnetic-sector multicollector device with nine faraday cups, a daly ion-counting channel, and three ion-counting channeltrons; and the Platform, a quadrapole device. Both instruments can be interfaced with a Merchantek 213-nm-wavelength laser-ablation unit for spatially resolved analysis. These instruments are complemented by a Finnigan-MAT 261 thermal ionization mass spectrometer with seven faraday cups and one ion-counting channel. Ultraclean laboratories support preparation of samples for rubidium-strontium, uranium-lead, U-series disequilibrium dating, samarium-neodymium, and other isotopic analysis. Additional geochemical instrumentation includes two VG gas-source mass spectrometers for hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon stable-isotope analysis, and a Micromass Multiprep automated preparation system for water and carbonate analyses; a gas-source mass spectrometer for conventional potassium-argon dating; a Jobin Yvon 70P optical-emission inductively coupled plasma spectrometer; and a Perkin-Elmer atomic absorption spectrophotometer.

The Department of Geological Sciences houses a dual high-resolution x-ray computed tomographic scanner used for nondestructive three-dimensional visualization and analysis of the internal structure of geologic samples; a Siemens D500 x-ray diffractometer with Datascan automation software and JADE pattern analysis; and a paleomagnetic laboratory with a shielded room, 2G cryogenic magnetometer, Bartington susceptibility meter, and ASC impulse magnetizer. Special microscopy facilities incorporate an Edge R400 real-time high-resolution three-dimensional light microscope; a USGS-type gas-flow fluid inclusion stage; and a Technosyn luminoscope. Among additional facilities are a 1-m X 1.5-m X 10-m flume for sediment transport studies and an experimental petrology laboratory containing hydrothermal pressure apparatus and one-atmosphere gas-mixing furnaces.

Geophysical research employs portable multichannel seismographs with vertical and three-component geophones; a ground-penetrating radar system; a LaCoste-Romberg gravimeter; an airborne Optech LIDAR system for fine-scale topographic mapping; an Optech ILRIS tripod-mounted laser scanning system for very-high-resolution outcrop topography; five portable broadband Guralp seismographs for teleseismic studies; two Vibroseis seismic sources, for both low- and high-frequency three-axis shaking; ten dual-frequency geodetic-quality GPS receivers with choke-ring antennas; portable field magnetometers; and an aerogeophysical instrument package (radar, gravity, LIDAR, magnetometers) most often used in Antarctica. A field site south of San Antonio is available for calibration and testing of seismic instruments and techniques. Graduate students are frequent members of scientific crews on vessels of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System and of other nations, and students regularly conduct fieldwork in Antarctica using National Science Foundation Polar Programs facilities.

Facilities for data processing, data interpretation, and numerical simulation are extensive. There are multiple workstation clusters with Sun and SGI hardware, as well as Windows and Macintosh systems. Most major commercial software packages for seismic data processing and interpretation are available, along with software for GIS, potential field, synthetic aperture radar, and other applications.

Reference materials include the 165,000-item Joseph C. and Elizabeth C. Walter Geology Library and Tobin International Map Collection, both located in the John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Geological Sciences Building. Research collections of about one million vertebrate paleontology specimens and about four million nonvertebrate specimens, including a type collection of about five thousand specimens, are housed at the J. J. Pickle Research Campus. The Bureau of Economic Geology maintains three major core storage facilities, containing nearly two million boxes of core and cuttings, mostly from North American sedimentary basins. The bureau also maintains a collection of nearly one million electric logs from Texas oil and gas wells.

Research support is provided by a well-equipped petrographic laboratory with a separate thin-section laboratory for student use, a machine shop, and an electronics shop. The department's staff includes two analytical chemists, two computer support specialists, a petrographic section technician, an electronics technician, a computer graphics specialist, a photographer, and a machinist.

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Areas of Study

Areas of active research in the Department of Geological Sciences include studies in sedimentary depositional systems; hydrogeology; climatology; structural geology; regional tectonics; seismology; paleomagnetism; seismic reflection and refraction; isotope and aqueous geochemistry; sedimentary geochemistry; geomicrobiology; igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic petrology; high-temperature geochemistry; ore deposits and industrial mineral resources; and vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology. Cooperative research projects are underway with the Center for Space Research, the Institute for Geophysics, and the Bureau of Economic Geology.

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Graduate Studies Committee

The following faculty members and research scientists served on the Graduate Studies Committee in the spring semester 2004-2005.

James A. Austin Jr.
Jay L. Banner
Christopher J. Bell
Philip C. Bennett
Donald Blankenship
William D. Carlson
Mark P. Cloos
James N. Connelly
Ian W. D. Dalziel
Shirley P. Dutton
Robert J. Ferguson
William L. Fisher
Clifford A. Frohlich
James E. Gardner
Stephen P. Grand
Bob A. Hardage
Martin P. Jackson
Charles Kerans
Gary A. Kocurek
J. Richard Kyle
John C. Lassiter
Stephen E. Laubach
Leon E. Long
Robert G. Loucks
Floyd J. Lucia
William P. Mann
Randall A. Marrett
Earle F. McBride
Kitty L. Milliken
Sharon Mosher
Yosio Nakamura
Timothy B. Rowe
Bridget R. Scanlon
Mrinal K. Sen
John M. Sharp Jr.
Thomas H. Shipley
James T. Sprinkle
Ronald J. Steel
Libby A. Stern
Paul L. Stoffa
Robert H. Tatham
Scott W. Tinker
W. C. J. van Rensburg
Clark R. Wilson
Lesli J. Wood
Zong-Liang Yang
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Admission and Degree Requirements

The preliminary education of students who intend to become candidates for a graduate degree in geological sciences usually includes coursework in general geology, paleontology, mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, and field geology, as well as physics, chemistry, and calculus. Geophysicists are expected to have a sound foundation in both mathematics and physics; paleontologists and biostratigraphers should include suitable preparation in the comparative morphology and genetics of living organisms. Students without the necessary foundation for advanced study and research may be required to take additional coursework.

The department offers both the Master of Science in Geological Sciences and the Master of Arts. The Master of Science in Geological Sciences requires twenty-four semester hours of coursework and a thesis; it is designed for those planning doctoral study or seeking employment in which research and problem-solving skills are essential.

The Master of Arts degree program requires thirty hours of coursework and a report; it is designed for students who wish to enhance their technical education. The programs in hydrogeology and petroleum geology require the student to take courses chosen from a list available from the graduate adviser. In other disciplines, Master of Arts degree programs are designed by petition to the graduate adviser.

Degree programs for the Master of Science in Geological Sciences and the Doctor of Philosophy are designed for each student by his or her committee.

Additional requirements, policies, and procedures are described in a brochure available from the graduate adviser's office.

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For More Information

Campus address: John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Geological Sciences Building (GEO) 2.312, phone (512) 471-6098, fax (512) 471-9425; campus mail code: C1100

Mailing address: The University of Texas at Austin, Graduate Program, Department of Geological Sciences, 1 University Station C1100, Austin TX 78712



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Graduate Catalog | 2005-2007 Geological Sciences program | courses

Fields of Study

    Office of the Registrar     University of Texas at Austin copyright 2005
    Official Publications 16 Aug 2005