DeFord Lecture Series

DeFord Lecture Series Speaker Schedule

The DeFord (Technical Sessions) lecture series has been a requirement and a tradition for all graduate students since the late 1940s. Once the official venue for disseminating EPS graduate student research, the DeFord Lecture series is now the forum for lectures by distinguished visitors and members of our community. Faculty and researchers from the Jackson School have invited prestigious researchers from around the world to present a lecture in this series. This is made possible only through a series of endowments, such as those funding past Distinguished Lectures.

The list below shows all the scheduled talks this semester. If you would like to meet with any of the speakers, please contact them or their hosts directly.

DeFord Lecture Series 2023-24 Speaker Schedule

All talks are Thursdays from 4-5PM (CST) in the Boyd Auditorium (JGB 2.324).  Lectures will be recorded, and most past lectures are posted on the Jackson School YouTube channel.

Sep 28 Dr. Prosenjit Ghosh
Indian Institute of Science
Carbonate Clumped Isotopes Thermometry: A new tool for addressing the hydrological cycle and ocean circulation during Miocene optima and climate transition
Abstract: Carbonate Clumped isotopes served as a unique tool for reconstruction of past temperature with confidence. This method has gained significant popularity amongst other competing techniques due to its ability to adequately define the temperature without knowing the isotopic composition of water. Nearly two decades of research engaged earth scientists in utilizing this new tool for addressing environmental condition for carbonate precipitation ranging from cosmos to benthos. The seminar will showcase a few new developments in the approach and provide a recent update on the scale for calibration of this novel tool for temperature assessment in carbonate samples from geological archives. Here, I will highlight some of our findings about environmental condition during mid Miocene and transition periods, which bear a large similarity with modern day Earth. The trends in hydrological conditions and extremes featured in the daily news channel broadcasts are encapsulated in the rock records preserved in the sedimentary libraries of the continental shelf and open ocean. We used the novel tool of clumped isotope thermometry on surface-dwelling planktonic foraminifera to investigate the thermal state of Miocene Ocean and the salinity condition over Indian Ocean, which are significantly influenced by the continental runoff and the biosphere.
Oct 5
Dr. Emily Grubert
University of Notre Dame
Oct 12
Dr. Ken Belitz
United States Geological Survey
Oct 19
Dr. Adam Atchley
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Oct 26
Dr. Gabe Filippelli
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Nov 2
Dr. Peter Eichhubl
Jackson School of Geosciences, UT Austin
Fracture growth processes under reactive subsurface conditions


Nov 9
Dr. Praveen Kumar
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Nov 16
Dr. Alan Whittington
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Nov 30
Dr. Alex Bump
Bureau of Economic Geology, UT Austin

Not your grandfather’s petroleum system: CCS and the role of the geoscientist

Previous lectures for 2023-24
Aug 31
Dr. Nicola Tisato
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UT Austin
Earthquakes Under the Lens of  Rock Physics: From analog Materials in the Lab to Rocks in the Field
Abstract: Recent geophysical observations have revealed that faults and subduction zones deform through a complex spectrum of slip and deformation behaviors. Consequently, we still lack a full and comprehensive understanding of earthquake mechanics, limiting our ability to forecast earthquakes. I will present and discuss the results of two research projects that shed light on earthquake mechanics. Innovative rotary shear experiments paired with recordings of high-speed videos and acoustic emissions reveal that co-seismic slips trigger different weakening and strengthening mechanisms controlling the deformation along faults, suggesting that such dynamics may also be observed in seismograms. With the second study, I will show how rock-physics experiments, paired with CT scanning on sedimentary rocks from the Hikurangi margin, reveal how clay minerals play a fundamental role in controlling slow-slip events in the northern part of the North Island of New Zealand, providing help to mitigate earthquake geohazard.
Sep 7
Dr. Timothy Shanahan
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UT Austin
Past to Future Climate: How can the paleoclimate record help us to understand the climate system and our future?
Abstract: The paleoclimate record provides unique insights into past climate variations and their causes, helping climate scientists to reconstruct how the climate system responds to forcings that are outside of the range experienced during the instrumental record.  Evaluating how well climate models can simulate the responses to past forcings can also help to validate their response to anticipated future changes in the climate system, improving our predictions of climate under future warming scenarios.  Here I will highlight three examples of this approach.  The first will investigate the controls on the development of extreme storms over the southern Great Plains, the second will look at the role of critical atmosphere-ocean responses to a weakening of the Atlantic Overturning Circulation and the third will investigate the role of hemispheric warming on the development of North Pacific warming patterns and drought over the western US.  Together, these approaches demonstrate several ways in which paleoclimate data, when combined with models, can help us to better understand the processes behind past climate changes, and to provide important insights into how those processes may drive future changes in the climate system.
Sep 21
Dr. Elizbeth Catlos
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UT Austin
Aftershock: New Insights into the Dynamics of Himalayan Orogenesis provided by the 25 April 2015 Nepal Earthquake
Abstract: Since the pioneering studies of Himalayan tectonics, the orogen has been described as a fold-thrust belt with the most of the focus on the location, nature, and timing of its contractional structures. Lineaments within the Himalayan orogen were identified early on as remote sensing techniques advanced. Lineaments are relatively straight features expressed in topography and are not considered faults, or else they would be termed as such. Lineaments are often not included in orogen-scale maps and cross-sections of the Himalayas, although many of these features extend from the Indian craton and cut major Himalayan fault systems. After the devastating Mw 7.8 Gorkha earthquake on 25 April 2015 and its Mw 7.3 aftershock 17 days later, several geophysical studies identified the critical need to study Himalayan lineaments near the city of Kathmandu as two (Judi and Gaurisankar) appeared to influence rupture dynamics. These earthquakes were also unusual to the geologic community as their magnitudes were lower than predicted (Mw > 8 had been broadly advertised) and located far from the fault and decollement predicted to sustain the next major event. Unfortunately, most Himalayan lineaments are sparsely studied, and their locations are only published in papers or maps that are site-specific. This approach is a problem because lineaments appear to be significant in improving our understanding of Himalayan hazards. A new paradigm shift is also emerging in the aftermath of the devastating Nepal events, with Himalayan architecture appearing to be more like an accretionary wedge with internal microplates delineated by major Himalayan faults and nearby cross-cutting lineaments rather than a folded package of deformed and uniform lithological units. The Sikkim region of NE India is the first to be identified as a unique Himalayan microplate and the metamorphic history of its rocks helps develop new ideas regarding the assembly of the range.