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Recent & Archived Geosciences News & Announcements...

May 2012

Geoscience Research Day 2012 A Great Success. - 9 May 2012

1st Place: Aaron Watters, Early Permian wind parameters recorded in the Lyons Fm., Manitou Springs, CO.

2nd Place: Heather Wood, A two-case study of convective initiation off the dryline in the Texas panhandle.

Honorable Mention: Trudy Watkins, Quartz preferred orientation and its impact on thermal anisotropy in sandstone and quartite.

September 2011

The Department welcomes Dr. Dustin Sweet, new Assistant Professor of Geosciences. Dustin specializes in clastic sedimentology, sequence stratigraphy, and sedimentary processes. Welcome, Dustin!

Jim Barrick was awarded funding for 2011-2014 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his participation in the collaborative research project Integrated Paleoceanographic Analysis of the Late Paleozoic Midcontinent Sea ($108,000). 

This project is an interdisciplinary approach that includes geochemical proxies (neodymium, strontium and oxygen isotopes of biogenic apatite (CONODONTS!); bulk major­ and trace­element abundance data, TOC­TIC­S concentrations, and petrographic data), biofacies analyses, and numerical models (regional ocean circulation model coupled to a global atmosphere­ocean general circulation model) to investigate paleoceanographic conditions during three short time intervals of the Late Pennsylvanian.  Jim will obtain the conodonts for geochemical analyses, establish biostratigraphic correlations, and interpret biofacies.  His collaborators are Achim D. Herrmann and Ariel Anbar of Arizona State University, Bernd J. Haupt of Penn State University, and Thomas Algeo of the University of Cincinnati (Total award - $310,000).


September 2011

NSF-EAR-Petrology & Geochemistry has awarded $184,159 over three years to fund research on Trace Element Mobility in the Sub-Solidus: Accessory Mineral Stability, Fluids and the Role of the Rock to Assistant Professor Callum Hetherington.

The project will work in thermal aureole of the iconic Ballachulish Igneous Complex in the Western Highlands of Scotland. The locality exposes a broad range of rock types making it the ideal locality to study and compare the role of chemical environment on accessory mineral assemblages and trace element distribution and will test hypotheses developed on the basis of previous research based on experimental studies. The funding will support extensive analytical work, as well as graduate and under-graduate students.

The image is a Th-Ce-Si-P element distribution map of a relict monazite crystal in metapelitic slate from the Ballachulish aureole. Horizontal dimension of the image is approximately 300 microns (3/10's of a mm).

February 2011

Associate Professor Seiichi Nagihara obtains NASA funding to study Apollo mission lunar heat flow data. Go here to read about it!

Drs. Cal Barnes and Aaron Yoshinobu to lead the Eurogranites 2011 Field Trip to the Caldeonides of central Norway in June.


September 2010

Atmospheric Group shares in $5M funding from DOE for wind energy-related projects! - 14 September 2010

Today, the DOE announced over $5M in total funding to support five wind energy related projects at TTU. Two of these projects will support improvements to short term wind forecasting, while three will support the development, testing and commercialization of midsized wind turbines. Texas Tech University and the Department of Geosciences will be playing a role in two of these new projects.

Associate Professor Seiichi Nagihara receives DOE Grant: Geothermal Data Aggregation: Submission of heat flow, well data and meta-data to the National Geothermal Data System based on a reusable framework for geothermal data integration and quality assurance", a 3-year grant for $312,000. Congratulations Dr. Nagihara!obtains NASA funding to study Apollo mission lunar heat flow data.</a></strong></div>

John Schroeder (ATMO) and Brian Ancell (ATMO), will work with AWS Truepower, LLC, on a forecasting improvement project. The project will target a region of high wind energy use in Texas, and will assess utility system benefits with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages an electric power system with the largest amount of wind power capacity in the United States. The project team will also includes North Carolina State University, the University of Oklahoma, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and consultants MESO, Inc., and ICF International.

Information on the Atmo group may be found in the left-hand sidebar.


Geography joins the Department of Geosciences.

The Geography Department has officially joined the Department of Geosciences. As an increasingly prominent unit on the TTU campus, the Department of Geosciences now houses the disciplines of physical and human geography, as well as state-of-the-art GIS facilities and faculty. We are incredibly excited about this development and the opportunities that now exist to foster across-discipline training, teaching and research in the South Plains and beyond.

Geography by nature is a diverse yet integrating science that combines elements of physical and social sciences to explain spatial distributions and physical processes that occur at the earth-atmosphere interface. In addition to the physical processes that occur, Geography explores how people interact with their environment.

In the coming months look for exciting new updates, news, and additions to the website that explore how Geography will deepen and broaden the teaching, research, and service goals of Department of Geosciences at TTU.

Information on the Geography 'group' may be found in the left-hand sidebar.


Summer 2010

Geoscience faculty member, Dr. Melanie Barnes receives the Catherine Perrine Environmental Awareness Award.


April 2010

Geoscience faculty members, John Schroder and Chris Weiss receive funding from NSF.

NSF Grant Received for Tornado Study.

Christopher Weiss (Assistant Professor, Geosciences) recently received a grant ($350K / 3yrs) from the National Science Foundation to study the structure of tornadoes with high-frequency mobile Doppler radar. Two Texas Tech Ka-band (TTUKa) radars will be deployed during the upcoming Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) in May and June. This grant complements an existing grant from NSF to study the thermodynamic characteristics of tornado-producing storms with StickNet (in situ) technology during VORTEX2.

NSF Grant for wind speed evaluation during severe storms.

John Schroeder (Associate Professor, Geosciences). Project Abstract:

The objective of this research is to measure and evaluate wind speeds and directions in extreme thunderstorm events to provide validation for numerical modeling, wind tunnel experimentation and engineering design. Thunderstorm winds control the design winds across the world. While laboratory and numerical studies have suggested vast differences may exist in the near-surface characteristics of thunderstorm winds relative to those generated by other phenomena, there has been a dearth of available field data to validate this hypothesis or evaluate its potential influence on wind loading. This project will deploy an arsenal of newly-developed, state-of-the-art mobile observing instruments directly in the path of thunderstorms. The measured data will be analyzed to evaluate the differences between thunderstorm winds and those typically assumed for engineering design and wind tunnel testing.

The results of this project will allow more realistic physical and numerical simulations to be performed, enhancing the ability to evaluate thunderstorm wind-structure interaction, develop appropriate design standards, and mitigate thunderstorm wind damage. The results have potential of improving wind load design for buildings and various infrastructures such as transmission line towers, which have a known susceptibility to thunderstorm winds. The measured data will be compiled into a web-based archive and made available to the engineering community to facilitate additional research and improve design. The project will provide research opportunities and field experience for graduate students, employ an established outreach program into nearby high schools targeting underrepresented groups, and firmly integrate teaching and research by linking the field acquisition phase of this project to an upcoming graduate course offering. Finally, the project will employ state-of-the-art research radar observations and subsequent analyses to benefit research in wind loads. This innovative concept has the potential to transform future engineering studies which require detailed information concerning turbulence in wind near the ground.

March 2010

Geoscience faculty member Dr. Tom Lehman received a grant from the U.S.G.S. This five-year, $150,000 grant will study the mineralogy and provenance of the Ogallala Formation which comprises the Ogallala aquifer. Go here for more information.

August 2009

Geoscience faculty member Dr. Tom Lehman received a grant from the U.S.G.S. This five-year, $150,000 grant will study the mineralogy and provenance of the Ogallala Formation which comprises the Ogallala aquifer. Go here for more information.

May 2009

Long time Geosciences Accounts Manager, Barbara Graham, retires. Go here for more information.

January 2009

Geoscience faculty Aaron Yoshinobu and Cal Barnes received $292,000 from the U.S. National Science Foundation for a three year study titled: "Collaborative Research: Evaluating the tempo, size, and chemical connectiviy of magma batches in a tilted plutonic complex". The study is collaborative with thermochronologist Kevin Chamberlain at the University of Wyoming and will involve a number of students from TTU over the next three summer.

October 2008 - Check out the 2008 Geosciences Department Newsletter!!!

click here to download a .pdf copy of the Newsletter (large file! 95 MB) Click here for a small version (3 MB)

Research Development Grant Competition Winners from Geosciences

The Office of the Vice President for Research sponsors the TTU Research Development Grant Competition, an externally-reviewed internal competition for up to $1 million dollars in grant support to stimulate the generation of innovative new research efforts at Texas Tech University. Proposals are judged on the basis of academic merit, ingenuity and innovation.

“My mission is to increase research capacity at Texas Tech University,” Smith said. “I felt we needed to do something different to ignite the research engine. That’s why we put the $1 million out there with no constraints.”

The three awards provide funding for modern state-of-the-art equipment that will enhance Texas Tech’s research infrastructure, Smith said. This will make TTU researchers more competitive in their applications for state and federal funding.

Grant money comes from the Research Development Fund, which was created by the Texas legislature to support research activities in higher education.

Winners are:


Dr. Eileen Johnson, Texas Tech University Museum
$612,376 for a proposal entitled, "Late Quaternary Landscape and Hunter-Gatherer Land Use Strategies at the Edge of the Llano Estacado."
[view the abstract]


Dr. B.L. Allen, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Department of Plant and Soil Science
Dr. Thomas Lehman, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geosciences
Dr. Vance Holliday, University of Arizona, Geosciences

A three year interdisciplinary research project is proposed to investigate the late Quaternary landscape and aboriginal hunter-gatherer use of an econtonal area between two physiographic sections (Southern High Plains [Llano Estacado] and Central Lowlands [western Rolling Plains]) during the late Quaternary (past ~20,000 years). Research will investigate and characterize the natural and cultural resources in this setting. This research, while having global implications, is centered regionally on landscape development and its relationship to indigenous human communities living at the edge of the Llano Estacado. The research setting is the ca. 83,000 acre U-Lazy-S Ranch near Post, Texas. Part of a vast turn of the century ranchland, the acreage encompasses the topographic setting of the uplands of the Llano Estacado, caprock breaks, and immediately adjacent Rolling Plains. The landscape is generally pristine and cultural sites undisturbed due to the highly limited access to and minimal development of the grassland. This situation has resulted in an unprecedented preserved surface expression of the cultural landscape. Preliminary research conducted in 2005 indicates that this landscape contains significant potential to inform regional models of Quaternary landscape development including aboriginal behavior and decision making during thousands of years of occupation. The research represents a unique opportunity to investigate this significant landscape from a holistic perspective, integrating landscape development and cultural land use strategies within an interdisciplinary resource base of method and theory.



Dr. Melanie Barnes, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geosciences
$506,203 for a proposal entitled, "Acquisition of a Laser Ablation – Inductively Coupled Plasma –Mass Spectrometer: Modern Trace Element And Isotope Analysis for Interdisciplinary Research at Texas Tech University." This machine will enable researchers to analyze the chemical composition of water, soil and other compounds to detect elements in parts-per-billion. In geology, the device can be used to determine the age of rocks and how they were formed.


Dr. C. Barnes, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geosciences
Dr. M. Ridley, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geosciences
Dr. S. Diamond, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences
Dr. G. Cobb, The Institute of Environmental and Human Health

Dr. John Schroeder, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geosciences
$1 million for a proposal entitled, "Innovative Technologies to Investigate Fine-Scale Atmospheric Motions and Their Impact." These will be used to study the lower atmosphere and create four-dimensional wind flow simulations to better understand weather patterns near Earth’s surface.


Dr. C. Weiss, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geosciences
Dr. S. Basu, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geosciences
Dr. A. Swift, Wind Science and Engineering
Dr. C. Letchford, Wind Science and Engineering