About Earth & Atmospheric Sciences

The Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Houston has a wide range of research programs central to the earth sciences. These include sedimentology, carbonate petrology, sequence stratigraphy, micropaleontology, structural geology, tectonics, geodynamics, marine geology, petroleum systems and geochemistry, inorganic geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, igneous petrology, thermochronology, GIS, remote sensing, seismology, applied geophysics, applied rock physics, whole earth geophysics, potential fields, hydrology, atmospheric sciences, climate change, and air pollution sciences.

The Department offers B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Geology, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences, a B.S. in Environmental Sciences, and a B.A. in Earth Sciences. Fieldwork is a major component of all degree programs. The Department also offers Professional M.S. programs in Petroleum Geology and Petroleum Geophysics that are offered at convenient hours for professional geoscientists working in industry or aspiring for a professional position within the petroleum industry. These programs have also been taught in several other countries (e.g., South Africa, Mexico, Venezuela). We also grant certification in GIS and Hydrology and offer a summer advanced short course sequence in petroleum geophysics for industry. The Department also is engaged in summer field camps in Geology and Geophysicsat the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association field station near Red Lodge, Montana.

The faculty at the University of Houston in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences includes medal and award winners from national and international professional organizations. These include a Penrose medal granted to Kevin Burke for his work in structure and tectonics and SEG Medals to John Castagna, Fred Hilterman, Robert Stewart, Leon Thomsen, and Robert Sheriff for efforts in Applied Seismology. Two GSA Penrose Medals and two SEG Ewing Medals awarded to Departmental faculty represent the highest awards granted by each professional society. John Dewey has also been honored as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a Member of the National Academy of Europe.

The Department maintains several state-of-the-art research facilities including a Laser-ablation Quadrupole ICP-MS Lab, a Multicollectir-ICP-MS Lab, a Cameca Electron Microprobe Lab, a JEOL SEM Lab, a U+Th/He Thermochronology Lab, a Stable Isotope Lab, an Organic/Petroleum Geochemistry Lab, a Paleomagnetics Lab, a carbonate sedimentology lab, a micropaleontology lab, several air quality chemistry stations and meteorological towers, a High-Performance Computing Lab and a workstation Lab with high level industry and academic geophysical, geological, and atmospheric research software. Several Petroleum Industrial Consortium and Labs reside in the Department, taking advantage of our location in the global hub of the oil industry and supported by over 30 international and national petroleum and seismic service corporations. They develop technologies and knowledge in reflection seismology, rock physics, sedimentology, and petroleum systems that are used to explore and produce petroleum resources and aid in subsurface CO2 sequestration. These include the Allied Geophysical Laboratory, the Rock Physics - DHI consortium, the Reservoir Quantification Lab, the Mission Oriented Seismic Program, the Institute of Theoretical Geophysics, the Quantitative Sedimentology Lab, and the Petroleum Systems and Geochemistry Lab. The Department also includes the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS), which works on the chemistry and physics of air pollution science and the influence of air pollution on climate changes through their measurement and modeling activities. A wide range of sophisticated field equipment including 3 GPR, high-resolution GPS, broad-band seismometers, and seismic reflection acquisition equipment are also available.

Our faculty and students work on field projects in various remote parts of the world such as Tibet, Nepal, Turkey, Newfoundland, Alaska, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Antarctica, and Greenland, as well as in Texas and the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the U.S.  Our academic marine geologists and geophysicists work on a range of problems on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the East Pacific Rise, the Southwest Indian Ridge, the western Pacific island arcs, and the Gulf of Mexico.  Our petroleum geologists and geophysicists work closely with the Houston-based oil industry on research of hydrocarbon basins in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, northern South America, the eastern margin of the US, and the western and eastern margins of Africa. We also work on whole earth studies that include the earth's deep interior to its outer atmosphere that encompass the fields of geology, geophysics, atmospheric sciences, ocean sciences, and environmental studies.  Our growing atmospheric group is conducting cutting edge research on atmospheric pollution in Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles along with mega-cities in Asia and the Middle East.  Our GPS group applies to GPS technology to subsidence and other environmental issues affecting Houston, the Gulf of Mexico and its urbanized coastlines, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world.  We also conduct research on planetary sciences, including studies of meteorites, planets, moons, planetary atmospheres, and remote sensing of the Earth's surface and atmosphere.  Many of these planetary studies are in collaboration with researchers from NASA and the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute in nearby Clear Lake.