7:00 pm19:00

May 1 AGS Meeting: Mudrocks (shales, mudstones) at the Scale of Grains and Pores: Current Understanding

  • Bureau of Economic Geology, ROC Conference Room

Mudrocks (shales, mudstones) at the Scale of Grains and Pores: Current Understanding

Dr. Kitty Milliken, Bureau of Economic Geology

The fine-grained sediments and rocks that constitute most of the sedimentary record have received tremendous research attention in the past decade. This talk reviews some of the technologies that have supported these advances and summarizes current knowledge of the diagenetic processes that drive the evolution of bulk rock properties of mud in the subsurface. Electron microbeam instrumentation has been central to improving our understanding of fine-grained materials.  In particular, improvements in resolution offered by field-emission electron guns and advances in sample preparation by various ion-milling techniques have allowed researchers to see tiny grains and pores in unprecedented detail. Grain assemblages in mudrocks vary across a very broad compositional range and the beginning compositions in muds have significant implications for the evolution of properties relevant to reservoir quality in mudrocks.  It is now clear that the principal diagenetic processes of sandstones and limestones, compaction and cementation, also operate in mudrocks. Research efforts to quantify the roles of compaction and cementation are central in the quest to refine a predictive understanding of the evolution of mudrock properties in the subsurface.


Kitty L. Milliken received a B.A. in geology (1975) from Vanderbilt University and M.A. (1977) and Ph.D. (1985) degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently she is a Senior Research Scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology in Jackson School of Geosciences. Her research focuses on the diagenesis of siliciclastic sediments and the evolution of rock properties in the subsurface. She has authored and co-authored around 90 peer-reviewed papers, over 100 abstracts, and also digital resources for teaching sandstone and carbonate petrography. She served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Sedimentary Research (1993-2000) and as Co-Editor (2004-2008).  In 2006 she toured as a J. Ben Carsey Distinguished Lecturer for the AAPG; she was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (2008). Her current work is focused on the application of electron microbeam imaging and analysis to interpret chemical and mechanical histories of mudrocks (oil and gas shales).


7:00 pm19:00

April 3 AGS Meeting & Panel Discussion: "Whatever possessed you to become a geologist?"

  • Bureau of Economic Geology, ROC Conference Room
Decision pathways...

Decision pathways...

Panel Discussion: "Whatever possessed you to become a geologist?" or"How and why I became a Geoscientist, and what that decision led to."

The theme of the next meeting will be the interview of three distinguished geologists, John Berry, Pat Dickerson, and Ernie Lundelius. The discussion will center around the same topics as were on the member survey that we conducted at the last meeting.

Specifically, we will be asking them about: 1) when they knew they wanted to geologists, 2) what about geology appealed to them, 3) who influenced them the most, 4) what they would have become, if not geologists, and 5) what their best jobs were. We will also be releasing the results of the member survey covering the same questions.

6:30 pm18:30

March 6 AGS Meeting: Thomas Ewing: A Scenic Tour of the Subsurface of the Austin Area

  • Bureau of Economic Geology, ROC Conference Room,

A Scenic Tour of the Subsurface of the Austin Area (Bastrop-Marlin); Milano Fault Zone and Cretaceous to Eocene Stratigraphy 

By Thomas E. Ewing, Frontera Exploration Consultants, San Antonio TX 78259

A recent project in support of groundwater modeling in the area east and northeast of Austin has allowed a good look at regional stratigraphy and structure in the eastern capitol area. Noteworthy items include:

  • Shelf edges of the Lower and Upper Edwards
  • Northeast thickening of the Eagle Ford
  • Austin carbonate bank and the Waco Channel
  • Enigmatic shelf sandstones
  • Milano Fault Zone - en echelon grabens
  • Simsboro Sand - Thickens in graben fill indicating fault movement

This talk will be a preliminary overview, a paper on the fault system will be presented at GCAGS in the fall.

Ewing_Lomond_2010 (1).jpeg


Dr. Thomas Ewing is a geoscientist with over 33 years of experience in hydrocarbon exploration and research. He is a Registered Professional Geoscientist in the State of Texas (#1320) and an AAPG/DPA Certified Petroleum Geologist (#4538), and holds certification #1610 from SIPES. He received a B.A. in Geology from the Colorado College (1975), an M.S. in Geochemistry from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (1977), and a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of British Columbia (1981).

Dr. Ewing was a research geologist for four years at the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology in Austin, working on Gulf Coast geopressured reservoirs, serving as a co-author of the "Atlas of Texas Oil Reservoirs", and compiling the Tectonic Map of Texas.   He is now a partner in Yegua Energy Associates, LLC

Tom has published over 75 papers and abstracts. Among other awards, he has twice received the Gulf Coast Section AAPG Levorsen Award (1982 and 1999), and has received the AAPG Distinguished Service Award. He has written articles on Gulf Coast geology and hydrocarbons, the geology and tectonics of Texas, and history and urban geology of the San Antonio area. He wrote the popular guidebook “Landscapes, Water and Man: Geology and Man in the San Antonio Area” published by the South Texas Geological Society in 2008.

In his spare time, he leads field trips in South Texas, and directs a 60-voice German men’s chorus, the San Antonio Liederkranz.

7:00 am07:00

Field Trip: Less Frequented Springs of the Austin Area, Texas

Trip Leaders: Alan Cherepon, Sylvia Pope, and Scott Hiers

Sign up with Charlotte Sullivan ph: 512.809.0656 email: charolotte.sullivan(at)

Assembly point: Pickle Research Center, 10100 Burnet Road, Austin 78758; Meet bus in visitor parking lot on North side of Burnet Rd entrance.

Trip leader, Al Cherepon, at an exposure of the Walnut Formation near Hearth/Great Hills Spring. 

Trip leader, Al Cherepon, at an exposure of the Walnut Formation near Hearth/Great Hills Spring. 


The next field trip of the AGS is scheduled for 2/25/17 from 7 AM to 5:30 PM in the greater Austin area, and will be a bring-your-own-box-lunch event so as to get the most out of the day.  Six springs and seeps will be visited; one in each of the water bearing spring units, from the Glen Rose up through the Quaternary Terrace Deposits.  This trip will emphasize that there are small springs and seeps all over Austin if you know where to look.  These springs are less studied as compared to Barton or Seider’s Spring.  The span of hydrogeology to be covered will compare and identify the reasons why specifying units in the Austin area springs can often be difficult.  Some outstanding fossils, faults, scenery, and history will be seen and discussed.  WARNING:  Some of the sites are difficult to access, will require traversing steep slopes and slippery creek beds, water in the creek beds and getting feet wet.  The suggested footwear is waterproof hiking boots or knee high rubber boots.  The sites are unique and will be well worth the effort.  Come join us for a field trip that promises to be worth your while.

Feb 12

Feb 11-12 CCGS Fieldtrip: Rio Grande Delta

The Rio Grande Delta and its Surroundings: Frontiers of Geoscience and Development

Saturday-Sunday, February 11-12, 2017

Sponsored by the Corpus Christi Geological Society; Leaders:

  • Thomas E. EWING, Frontera Exploration Consultants, San Antonio, TX
  • Juan L. GONZALEZ, Dept. of Env. Sciences, UT-Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX

Join your colleagues on a two-day exploration of the Rio Grande Delta, a unique delta-shoreline complex at the southern tip of Texas. The Rio Grande delta is one of the major deltas of North America. Over 1,600,000 people live on the Holocene delta plain and its Pleistocene ancestors, yet geologic knowledge is limited.

 The delta was formed by the sediment-rich Rio Grande/Rio Bravo during the Altithermal. The river carried huge but irregular flows into a semiarid environment. Eolian activity has extensively modified the delta plain. Human settlement and infrastructure has exploited the delta and its river, such that recovering natural conditions and values is a present challenge. Major historical developments, including Mexican War and Civil War battle sites, will be addressed as well.

Combining available geologic information with global satellite photography gives a balanced view of an important delta. But a lot of work remains to be done! Come help define the problems and the ways we can resolve them. We will visit:

  • The South Texas eolian sand sheet and Sal del Rey, an historic salt deposit
  • Lagunas, esteros, and distributary channels in the Holocene floodplain
  • Clay dunes and the 'hilly delta'; erosion and accretion
  • Transgressive shoreline at Boca Chica and South Padre
  • Irrigation and drainage features, and preserved battlefields
  • Thick Oligocene ash in the upper valley-side bluffs near Rio Grande City

Logistics:   Trip departs from Corpus Christi, TX 9am Saturday (place TBA), and returns to Corpus Christi, TX about 6:30 pm Sunday.  Bus transportation, hotel (double occupancy), guide materials, breakfast burritos, lunches, and water are provided. You cover: dinner, personal items.

Cost:    Estimated at $300, minimum 15 participants.  More details to follow.

Contact:     If you're coming, please contact the trip leaders:

    Thomas Ewing

    Juan Gonzalez

    Dawn Bissell

6:30 pm18:30

Geology and Highway Engineering Problems in Texas



Speaker:  Marcus Galvan, PE. Corsair Consulting LLC

Forensic study and the repair measures of a distressed Mechanically Stabilized Earth wall (MSEW) on IH-10 in Beaumont, Texas. The MSEW was built in 1993 experienced a significant separation in the roadway shoulder. This separation was initially dowel stitched. About four years after initial retrofit additional pavement cracks appeared in the travelling lanes. Field inspection, extensive field and laboratory testing and MSEW monitoring using an inclinometer were performed to investigate the cause of the MSEW distress. MSEW stability, based on the laboratory test results, indicates that the MSEW is on the verge of sliding failure. This analysis was verified by the field monitoring conducted using an inclinometer. After several heavy rain events the MSEW showed the sliding behavior that caused great concern for the MSEW stability and the safety of traveling public. Consequently, repair measures were taken using the prestressed ground anchors and soldier piling system.

Bio:   Mr. Galvan has more than 29 years of experience covering broad range of structural, material, geotechnical engineering and construction issues.  For 16 of his 27 years in industry, Mr. Galvan worked in the TxDOT Bridge Division Geotechnical Branch.  Here he supervised and managed personnel engaged in statewide geotechnical activities.  These included the design of bridge foundations, retaining walls, bank and stream scour countermeasures, evaluation and remediation of slope stability issues, forensic evaluations, participation in Value Engineering studies, development of Statewide Bridge Geotechnical Standards and Specifications, planning and execution of geotechnical investigations and construction support for geotechnical structures on Texas Highway Projects.

6:30 pm18:30

Austin Geological Society Business Meeting

January AGS BUSINESS MEETING: The AGS Executive Committee is required to report at lest once a year to the Membership.  We are holding a business meeting in the BEG Conference Room 6:30-8:00 pm on Monday, January 9th (the SECOND Monday in January).  A lot has been achieved in the past year - more than can be communicated before the regular meeting.  The ExCom will bring the membership up to date on what has been done, and BRIEF committee reports will be read.  We encourage members present to ask questions and make suggestions.

This is a business meeting so there will be no technical presentation or pizza. 

John Berry,
AGS President


BEG Conference Room
UT Austin, JJ Pickle Research Center
101 Burnet Rd., Bldg 130

4:00 pm16:00

AGS Holiday Party

  • John & Ingrid Berry

Austin Geological Society Holiday Party

Saturday, December 10th, 2016; 4:00-7:00 p.m.

At the home of John & Ingrid Berry; 5000 Beverly Hills Drive, AUSTIN, TX 78731 (near RM2222 & MoPac)

Members and Significant Others are invited; Traditional Holiday Food, Mulled Cider, etc (Gluten free and Vegetarian options available); BYOB Alcoholic Drinks

RSVPto jlbassoc@flash.netby Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

7:00 pm19:00

The National Water Model in the Austin Area

The National Water Model in the Austin Area

David Maidment, UT Austin (Engineering)




The National Weather Service is now operating a National Water Model as a high spatial resolution, real-time water forecasting system for streams and rivers in association with its weather forecasting system.  For Travis County there are forecasts updated hourly for about 500 river and stream segments of average length 2 miles.  The 10m National Elevation Dataset has been analyzed to generate a “Height Above Nearest Drainage” value for each 10m cell in the landscape draining to a particular 10m cell in the stream network, and from this the stream channel geometry and rating curve converting discharge to water level have been computed.  This enables the piezometric head surface of the river and stream network to be computed in real-time, and real-time flood inundation mapping to be created.  The Austin Fire Department has prepared flood response maps to anticipate actions that need to be taken when vulnerable communities are threatened with flooding. The Onion Creek watershed is being used as a test-bed to check the validity of these forecasts and planning procedures.  The piezometric head surface of the streams and rivers must be connected to the piezometric head surface of the shallow groundwater system but this connection is not well defined in the National Water Model.  Input from the Austin Geological Society would be welcomed as to how best to characterize the shallow groundwater system of relevance to this process.

More information is available at:


David R. Maidment is the Hussein M. Alharthy Centennial Chair in Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin where he has been on the faculty since 1981.  He received his Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Engineering with First Class Honors from the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, and his MS and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Texas, he was a research scientist at the Ministry of Works and Development in New Zealand, and at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria, and he was also a Visiting Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University.

Dr Maidment is a specialist in surface water hydrology, and in particular in the application of geographic information systems to hydrology. In 2016, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering "For development of geographic information systems applied to hydrologic processes".

Dr Maidment teaches classes in surface water hydrology and GIS in Water Resources. From 1992 to 1995 he was Editor of the Journal of Hydrology. Dr Maidment is also co-author of the text Applied Hydrology (McGraw-Hill, 1988), Editor in Chief of the Handbook of Hydrology (McGraw-Hill, 1993), co-editor of the monograph Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modeling Support with GIS (ESRI Press, 2000), co-author and editor of Arc Hydro: GIS for Water Resources, (ESRI Press, 2002), and co-author of Arc Hydro Groundwater (ESRI Press, 2011).


8:00 am08:00

Guided Tour of Gault Archeological Site, near Florence Texas

  • Florence, TX 76527

Leave Pickle in car pool at 8am. Return about 12:30pm. Cost is $10 for the tour.

If you are interested in joining this tour, and have not yet signed up, please contact John Berry at 

Tour led by Dr. D. Clark Wernecke, Executive Director, The Gault School of Archaeological Research (at Texas State)

The Gault site is very large (40 ac) and is one of the most important archeological sites in the United States, since several million artifacts of all cultures from Clovis to Late Prehistoric have been found. More than 600,000 Clovis artifacts alone have been recovered, and there are pre-Clovis artifacts dating back to about 15,500 years BP.  In all the long discussion of the pre-Clovis period in North America, this has been one of the very few sites with well-dated demonstrably pre-Clovis material.  Thus the site raises important questions about just how North America was originally peopled.

Our guide will discuss, among other things: 

  • hypotheses regarding the peopling of the Americas
  • the geology and history of this area of Central Texas
  • cultural history of central Texas
  • primitive technologies
  • important finds from the Gault site
  • archaeological excavation

Links to more information:  

7:00 pm19:00

November 7: AGS Meeting: Early Paleocene Environmental Reconstruction

Early Paleocene Environmental Reconstruction Using the Isotopic Composition of Leaf Compressions from the San Juan Basin

Steve Dworkin, Baylor University

I got my Master’s from Michigan State in glacial geology.  Ph.D.  in 1991 from UT Austin – I studied under Lynton Land and I worked on sandstone diagenesis.  I am a sedimentary petrologist and low temperature geochemist.  My work focuses on paleoclimate reconstructions using terrestrial rocks.  Most of my students work on reconstructing paleoceanographic conditions using the chemistry of black shales. 

Spherulites in obsidian are more than a curiosity

Kevin Befus, Baylor University

Dr. Befus earned his first and second degrees in Geology at Texas Christian University, and his Ph.D. at UT Austin (in 2014).  He has taught at Stanford University and Baylor.  His interests focus on the processes affecting eruptive lavas: the temperatures and pressures at which magmas are stored before eruption, the rates of ascent, emplacement and cooling of lavas when they are erupted.  He has worked on lavas from the Yellowstone Caldera, Mono Craters (CA), and the mid-ocean ridge system, as well as on phreatomagmatic rocks of K-T boundary age from West Texas.  He has used many techniques to analyze his samples: microchemical analysis of spherulites and their surroundings, Oxygen isotopes, and has developed innovative methods to make these analyses much less time-consuming and more accurate.  Tonight he will talk about the part that analyses of spherulites and their surroundings can play in increasing our knowledge of fundamental volcanic processes and their rates This knowledge will be important as we try to develop the capacity to accurately forecast eruptions.

Microcosm Study to Evaluate Alternative Reduced Sulfur Compounds to Stimulate Uranium Reduction.

Nebechi Osia

Nebechi is a PhD candidate in Environmental Engineering at the Texas A & M University - Kingsville.  Her advisor is Dr. Lee Clapp.  Nebechi graduated with a Masters in both Environmental Chemistry/M.E.E.S and Environmental Engineering from University of Maryland Eastern Shore and University of Maryland Baltimore County respectively. Her interest in the environment stems from her experiences in her homeland of Nigeria. Her main research interests are remediation, wastewater treatment, geochemical modeling, and the fate and transport of heavy metals.

7:00 am07:00

AGS Mini Field Trip: Wilcox-Carrizo

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22nd, 2016. 
7:00 am Pickle/8:00 am Buc-ee's in Bastrop

End ~3:00 pm
The 4 locations we will visit provide an opportunity to examine and discuss depositional environments and stratigraphic relationships in the uppermost Wilcox Group and lowermost Claiborne Group as developed in Bastrop County. Red Bluff (Stop 3) and Golf Course (Stop 4) are frequently visited by field parties from local colleges, societies and the petroleum industry, as reservoir analogs and as potential equivalents for the subsurface Wilcox.

Ideas around the spatial and temporal relationships presented in this field guide have been developed over several years and numerous visits to the locations we will see today, combined with critical appraisal of the many publications concerning the stratigraphy of Bastrop County and beyond, but it remains a work-in-progress .
This is a re-run of the highly successful trip that Chris led in the spring.
Sign-Up: John Berry, or call at 512-452-8068

8:30 am08:30

Core Workshop: Wilcox Group

  • Pickle Research Campus

Architectural variability and depositional trends in the Wilcox Group in Texas

PRESENTERS:  Iulia Olariu, William Ambrose, Hongliu Zeng, Jinyu Zhang, Cornel Olariu, Ronald Steel, and Austin Clayton

COST:                 $30 (includes continental breakfast, boxed lunch)


CONTACT:            Sigrid Clift, E-mail:

The University of Texas at Austin and Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) State of Texas Advanced Oil and Gas Resource Recovery (STARR) Program are presenting an all-day core workshop of the Wilcox Group in Texas. Following morning lectures on Wilcox sequence stratigraphy and depositional systems in the Main Conference Room at BEG (10100 Burnet Road, Building 130), the workshop is then devoted to an afternoon’s review of cores in the Core Research Center (Building 131). Attendees can get a hands-on view of key cores with a detailed review of depositional systems and reservoir facies. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to observe numerous examples of vertically superimposed sedimentary facies from fluvial, deltaic, and transgressive-shelf depositional systems. 

Registration does not include parking pass for Pickle Research Campus

7:00 pm19:00

AGS Meeting: Seismicity Monitoring and Research in Texas

TexNet and CISR: Seismicity Monitoring and Research in Texas

Michael H. Young,  (BEG),  Alexandros Savvaidis, and Peter Hennings

Michael Young will be discussing the seismicity research and monitoring in Texas, including the design of the new TexNet statewide monitoring network.  This is of current interest because of the swarms of earth-quakes in occurring in North Texas.

Dr. Michael Young is Associate Director for Environment and Senior Research Scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology, UT-Austin. He has authored or co-authored nearly 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, several book chapters and >100 presentations at scholarly meetings. He is Editor of the Vadose Zone Journal. His research includes water/energy nexus; soil/water/plant interactions in arid vadose zones; and connections between water resources, landscape development, and human interactions.

6:30 pm18:30

Annual Ethics Talk: The L’Aquila Trial

The L’Aquila Trial: What are my options if my client or employer publicly misrepresents my views.

Martin Boozer, Attorney, and John Berry


Six leading Italian earth scientists and a civil servant were tried and convicted of manslaughter as a consequence of the supposedly falsely reassuring advice they gave just prior to the April 6th, 2009, L’Aquila earthquake, which killed 309 people.  We use this trial as a starting point for a discussion of the options open to you if your organization misrepresents your professional evaluation of the risk posed to the public by a geological event.  As part of this we will discuss the Texas whistleblower statute.

7:00 pm19:00

Past, Present, and Future: Aquifer Storage and Recovery in Texas

  • Bureau of Economic Geology

Matt Webb, Hydrologist, Texas Water Development Board

The purpose of the presentation is to familiarize the audience with a technology called aquifer storage and recovery, or ASR. Conceptually, ASR involves taking source water when it is available and storing it via an injection well in an aquifer for later recovery at a time when other available water is scarce. ASR application can be beneficial for evaporation suppression and surface inundation mitigation. However, the technology also carries challenges that must be considered prior to attempting to implement the method. ASR activities, experimental and operational, have taken place in Texas since the 1940’s and today there are three ASR facilities in the state. Interest in the technology has increased markedly in the last several years. The TWDB is funding feasibility and demonstrations projects in Victoria, New Braunfels, and Corpus Christi.

9:00 pm21:00

"Inner Space Caverns (Laubach Cave): Discovery and insights into Texas' past fauna and climate"

Ernie Lundelius, Jay Banner, and Jim Samson

In 1963 a large cave was found by the Texas Highway Department while conducting foundation core drilling for a railroad overpass of Interstate Highway 35 south of Georgetown, Texas.  A two foot diameter hole was drilled into the cave for access.  Exploration by highway department personnel and members of the Texas Speleological Association found an extensive cavern underlying the site of the proposed overpass and surrounding area.  The landowner, Dr. Laubach, received permission from the Texas Highway Department to develop a commercial cavern under the highway, and it was named Inner Space Cave.  The cavern is located in the Cretaceous age Edwards Formation and within the Balcones Fault Zone, both known for having caves and sinkholes.
Cave calcite deposits (speleothems) offer insight into past climate. As the calcite grows from drip water entering the cave, it may record changes in the rate of drip and/or the chemical composition of the drip water. In this way, speleothems my preserve past climate information, yet there are many uncertainties regarding how accurately we can interpret a climate signal from speleothem analysis. At Inner Space and other cave systems in central Texas, ongoing research is monitoring cave meteorology, drip water physical and chemical parameters, and the growth of calcite on artificial substrates. The goal of these studies is to evaluate the extent to which modern speleothem calcite preserves climate changes. Speleothems have the potential to record past changes in temperature and the sources of moisture for rainfall in Texas.
Deposits in Laubach (Inner Space) Cave have produced vertebrate fossils from five separate old openings that are marked underground by debris cones.  Radiocarbon (C-14) dates are available for three 23,000, 15,000 and 13,000 YBP.  The fossils represent fauna that lived in Texas during the late Pleistocene and include a number of extinct species as well as extant species no longer found in central Texas.  The extinct species include the scimitar toothed cat, Homotherium serum, large armadillo, Dasypus bellus, sloth Megalonyx, glyptodont Glyptotherium sp., Columbian mammoth Mammuthus columbi, camel, Camelops sp., dire wolf Canis dirus, four horned antelope Tetrameryx sp. and large javelina Platygonus compressus.  The extra-limital species, Microtus ochrogaster/pinetorum, the shrew Blarina carolinenesis, prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus, and Dipodomys elator indicate changes in the environment since the last glacial stage.  Some differences in the faunas from the five localities may indicate changes in the fauna through time.  The oldest fauna contains remains of the Mexican free tailed bat that is absent from most of the Pleistocene faunas of Central Texas.  The C-14 date of 23,000 YBP indicates that it was present during the last interstadial that preceded the last glacial maximum.  There are old guano deposits in the cave that could be dated to determine if they are the same age as the Mexican free tailed bat specimens. 

 Biographical information on the Speakers:
Jay Banner:
Ernest Lundelius:
James Samson: James is an independent geological consultant and an AGS Honorary Member.


7:30 pm19:30

“Texas Groundwater Protection Committee and Abandoned Water Wells”

Cary L. Betz, P.G., Manager of Permit Support, Compliance and Groundwater Section, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

House Bill 1458 sponsored by Representative Lena Guerrero in the House and Senator Santiesteban in the Senate, was passed by the 70th Legislature in 1989, set out the state’s groundwater protection policy, and created the Texas Groundwater Protection Committee (TGPC) in Chapter 26 of the Texas Water Code. Since that time, the TGPC has implemented the state’s policy of non-degradation of the state’s groundwater resources by coordinating groundwater protection activities of the agencies represented on the Committee, developing and updating a comprehensive groundwater protection strategy for the state, studying and recommending to the legislature groundwater protection programs for areas in which groundwater is not protected by current regulation, and publishing a joint groundwater monitoring and contamination report. Abandoned water wells have been a major concern to the TGPC for many years, as they are a threat to groundwater and public safety. Abandoned wells provide a direct channel for pollution of the aquifer below, through the direct introduction of contaminants with no opportunity for natural filtration by soils or geologic materials. The TGPC continues to advocate for enhanced groundwater protection through abandoned well plugging and educational outreach.

Cary began his career with the Texas Water Commission’s Water Quality Division in 1989, after working several years in the private sector for an engineering firm specializing in land development and municipal projects. In 1991, he was tasked with building a team to conduct Groundwater Impact Evaluations for Wastewater Permits.

When the agency became the TNRCC, Cary and his team were reorganized into the Groundwater Assessment Section. There, he served in various capacities, focusing primarily on statewide groundwater monitoring and Edwards Aquifer issues. In 2007, Cary assumed the role of the Executive Director’s personal representative to the interagency Texas Groundwater Protection Committee, where he serves as the designated chairman.

Cary was recently appointed Manager of the newly created Permit Support, Compliance and Groundwater Section in TCEQ’s Water Availability Division where he oversees groundwater protection and surface water rights compliance programs. He is a member of the federal Advisory Committee on Water Information’s (ACWI’s) Subcommittee on Ground Water (SOGW) that has developed a national groundwater monitoring program. Cary has also been actively involved with the national Ground Water Protection Council, serving on their Water Quality Division Oversight Group and chairing their Aquifer Storage and Recovery Task Force.

Locally, he represented the TCEQ during the development and implementation of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program (EARIP), and is serving on the Williamson County Conservation Foundation’s Adaptive Management Committee and the Georgetown Salamander Adaptive Management Working Group.

For Cary, serving Texas and Texans is an honor. He is a sixth generation native Texan from Houston, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geoscience from University of Texas at Austin. He is a licensed Professional Geoscientist in the state. When not at TCEQ, Cary splits his time between his family’s newest generation of Texans, working in the rapidly growing Texas wine industry, and doing preservation work on the battleship U.S.S. Texas.

7:00 pm19:00

Origins of the Caballos Novaculite Formation, Marathon Uplift, West Texas

Robert L. Folk and Earle F. McBride, UT Austin

Drs. Folk and McBride have a long-standing disagreement on the origin of novaculite units within the Silurian-Devonian-age Caballos Formation, which crops out in the Marathon region of Trans-Pecos Texas (Figure 1). The Marathon uplift is a topographic basin, but a structurally high remnant of southwest-northeast trending Ouachita mountain chain, which is otherwise buried by sediments throughout Texas. Novaculite is an uncommon rock type thought by some to be metamorphosed bedded chert. Folk and McBride (1976) describe the two Caballos novacultite members as “white, pelletal, spiculitic chert”. In the early 1970s Folk and McBride independently came up with contrasting descriptions for the origin of the novaculites. McBride and Thompson (1970) proposed deposition in a deep marine environment; Folk (1973) interpreted the depositional environment as “shallow marine with occasional subaerial exposure”. They chose to revisit field exposures of the rocks together in 1972, and subsequently published a collaborative article on their differing interpretations (Folk and McBride, 1976). In October they will continue their good spirited debate on the origins of the Caballos Novaculite for the Austin Geological Society.


Dr. Robert L. Folk was born 30 Sept. 1925 in Shaker Heights in Cleveland, Ohio. He obtained all three degrees from the Pennsylvania State College, Ph.D. 1952. From 1953-1988 he taught sedimentary geology at The University of Texas at Austin. He has won two medals for his work in sedimentary petrology, and two national teaching awards. In 1974, Dr. Folk published Petrology of Sedimentary Rocks, a reference guide used in teaching throughout the world. The book was reprinted in 1980, and in 2002 he donated it to the Walter Geology Library at UT Austin to be scanned and made available via the internet. Dr. Folk has had a life-long passion for all things Italian, and conducted much research in Viterbo and Acireale, Italy. In 1980 he first became interested in the role of bacteria in forming materials. After retiring from teaching in 1988, Dr. Folk became intrigued by the influence of nannobacteria on formation of minerals and weathering of rocks; in 1990 he discovered, along with Drs. Brenda Kirkland, F. Leo Lynch, and Amanda Lawrence the first mineralized nannobacteria. To read more about this passion of his, visit:

Dr. Earle F. McBride became an instructor at The University of Texas at Austin in 1959, and received a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1960. Dr. McBride, also an author of numerous scientific articles, guidebooks, and references on deep water sedimentation (especially flysch deposits), continued teaching sedimentary geology at UT Austin Department of Geological Sciences until his retirement in 2005. In the 1970s and 1980s, he had visiting professorships at the University of Kansas (distinguished), the University of Perugia, Italy (sponsored by NATO), and consulted for a Mexican commission for coal exploration. Dr. McBride served as geology department chair at UT Austin from 1980-1984. His chief interests remain sandstone diagenesis, physical and chemical properties that alter sandstone, and the fate of sandstone pores, which he has applied in geological consulting work with over a dozen oil companies throughout his career. In 2011, Dr. McBride along with M. Dane Picard discovered relict evidence of the WWII D-Day battles on Omaha Beach in France in the form of small spherical beads of iron and glass, which are fused remnants of shrapnel and quartz sand. For more information on the Omaha Beach discoveries, see:


7:00 pm19:00

Ethics Talk

The always popular AGS fall kick-off One-hour Ethics Training this year will use a real-time audience participation element to let you learn about the relationship between your own interpretations of an ethical response and the interpretations of your peer AGS members. Please come prepared to participate by bringing your “smart phone” or wireless internet-ready device (e.g. iPad). If you have two devices, please consider bringing one to lend a fellow AGS member who is not so equipped. Paper-and-pencil participation will also be supported, as well as an invitation for members of the audience to offer short verbal responses. If you want to be super-prepared, please use this link to download the app we will be using: .

Dr. Susan Hovorka, BEG (content organizer) and Dallas Dunlap, BEG (technology organizer) will lead this session, but the major speaker will be you.

7:00 pm19:00

A Tale of Three Segments: Similarities and contrasts between the Northern, Barton Springs, and Southern Segments of the Edwards Aquifer

Barbara Mahler and Mary Lynn Musgrove

The karstic Edwards aquifer supplies water to a rapidly increasing population in Central Texas. The three segments of the aquifer—the Barton Springs segment, the San Antonio segment, and the Northern segment—have received varying amounts of study. The presenters will discuss what is known about flowpaths, hydrogeologic reactivity, aqueous geochemistry, and contaminant concentrations in the three segments, with a focus on the data gaps that remain.


Barbara Mahler (right) is a Research Hydrologist at the USGS Texas Water Science Center in Austin. Her research has focused on using geochemistry to better understand karst hydrosystems. Most of her research has been on the Edwards aquifer in Central Texas and karst aquifers in northeastern and southern France.

MaryLynn Musgrove (left) is a Research Physical Scientist at the USGS Texas Water Science Center in Austin. Her research has focused on using geochemistry to better understand groundwater systems with a focus on karst aquifers, including the Edwards aquifer.


7:00 pm19:00

Wolfberry (Wolfcampian-Leonardian) Deep-Water Depositional Systems in the Midland Basin: Straigraphy, Lithofacies, Reservoirs, and Source Rocks

Herbert Scott Hamlin

Wolfberry play combines favorable geology with innovative completion practices to form one of the largest unconventional oil plays in the United States. Wolfberry wells produced almost 55 million barrels of oil in 2011, and potential exists for that figure to double in a few years. Abundant organic carbon, brittle calcareous mudrock, and thin permeable beds form the geologic basis for the play. The Wolfberry concept grew out of preexisting plays in low-permeability sandstones (Spraberry Formation) and detrital carbonates (Wolfcamp interval) and developed in the early 2000’s through the application of modern hydraulic-fracture stimulation technology and refinement of geologic understanding of the reservoir-source-rock system. This presentation covers Wolfberry geology at regional and local scales and is intended to provide a context and reference for exploration and development.

Lower Permian (Wolfcampian and Leonardian Series) stratigraphy in the Midland Basin records deposition in an intracratonic, deep-water basin surrounded by shallow-water carbonate platforms. On the basin floor, siliciclastic, turbidite depositional systems alternate with calcareous, hemipelagic depositional systems in horizontal, laterally persistent layers. Turbidite sandstones form important reservoirs in basin-floor settings. Along the platform margins, slope depositional systems comprise carbonate-dominated clinoforms. Near-slope (periplatform) detrital carbonates (primarily debris flows and turbidites) form important Wolfberry reservoirs. By flooding or exposing the wide platforms, sea-level fluctuation controlled sediment input into the basin. During sea-level lowstands, platforms were exposed, and siliciclastic sediment was transported directly into the basin. During sea-level highstands, flooded platforms became carbonate factories, and sediment input to the basin comprised platform-derived carbonate and hemipelagic (windblown) silt and clay. The hemipelagic depositional system was active throughout the sea-level cycle, and organic matter and siliciclastic silt are abundant in all basinal intervals.

We used wireline logs to correlate and map stratigraphic intervals and drill cores to characterize lithofacies and calibrate wireline logs for lithofacies identification and mapping beyond cored wells. On the basis of lithofacies composition, rock-body geometries, and bedding architecture, we interpreted depositional facies and elements within the sequence stratigraphic and paleogeographic framework.

Siliciclastic intervals include the lower Wolfcamp interval, the Dean Formation, and the lower and upper intervals of the Spraberry Formation. These inferred lowstand intervals comprise submarine fans that extend over 150 mi (241 km) north-south and cover the basin floor. Spraberry and Dean sandstone turbidites are composed of very fine grained sand and coarse silt derived from source areas in the north. Permeable turbidite channel sandstones thin southward, grading into low-permeability turbidite lobes and sheets having widespread lateral continuity. The lower Wolfcamp interval forms a west- and north-thinning wedge of siliciclastics derived from tectonic source areas to the east and south.

Calcareous intervals include the upper Wolfcamp interval, lower and middle Leonard intervals, and middle interval of the Spraberry Formation. These inferred highstand intervals, which form equally widespread layers on the basin floor, are composed of hemipelagic deposits (mudrocks and calcareous mudrocks) and detrital carbonate mass flow deposits. Basinal calcareous intervals are typically thicker, coarser grained, and more permeable near the platforms that supplied the carbonate detritus. In basin-center areas, calcareous intervals are mudrock dominated but include numerous thin, permeable interbeds.

Wolfberry basinal deposits are oil rich, but most lithofacies are relatively impermeable. Mudrocks are organic rich, thermally mature, and oil prone. Sandstones and carbonates are mostly thin and of poor reservoir quality. The Wolfberry reservoir-source-rock system, however, is more than 2,000 ft (610 m) thick, and by means of massive, multistage, hydraulic-fracture stimulation treatments, large volumes of marginal reservoirs are accessed and produced.


Dr. Herbert Scott Hamlin has been a Research Scientist Associate at the Bureau of Economic Geology since September 2007. He obtained his B.A in anthropology and M.A. and Ph.D. in geology from the University of Texas at Austin. His fields of expertise are sedimentary geology, stratigraphy, basin analysis, hydrocarbon reservoir characterization, hydrocarbon play analysis, hydrogeology, groundwater flow modeling, GIS, geostatistics, and relational databases.

Prior to his current work at the BEG he was a Hydrologist at the Texas Water Development Board from 2004 to 2007 where he was involved in groundwater availability modeling. From 1983 to 2001 Dr. Hamlin was a research associate at the BEG, during which time some of his work included investigating petroleum resources in Texas, Wyoming, Australia, and Venezuela and modeling groundwater flow and contaminant transport around salt domes.


6:00 pm18:00

What Happened in the Texas Hill Country after Edwards Deposition?

Peter R. Rose

In central Texas, the Balcones Fault Zone separates the Gulf Coastal Plain from the elevated Hill Country/Llano Uplift/Edwards Plateau province to the west and north. The youngest geologic formations common to both provinces are the thick, widespread Edwards Limestone (Albian), and the thin overlying Georgetown, Del Rio, Buda, and Boquillas (Cenomanian) formations. Younger Cretaceous and Tertiary formations beneath the Gulf coastal plain have no known counterparts west and north of the Balcones Fault Zone.

The Late Cretaceous and Tertiary geologic history of the Central Texas Platform may be summarized:

a) The vast Edwards carbonate bank was mantled beneath a covering veneer of thin (<100 feet) Cenomanian formations (Del Rio, Buda, and Boquillas [=Eagle Ford]).

b) The Central Texas Platform was covered by 500 to 1,500 feet of open marine Austin Chalk (Santonian), Taylor Clay and Navarro Marl (Campanian and Maastrichtian), and Paleocene Midway Clay.

c) Throughout the Eocene (36 my), the exposed, low-lying bank (adjacent to coastal-plain and fluvial deltaic depositional tracts) began to be gently uplifted.

d) Beginning in Oligocene time, accelerating gulfward tilting and uplift increased exposure and erosion of the buried Central Texas Platform, until Georgetown and Edwards rocks began to be exposed and eroded, their detritus deposited in alluvial aprons on the adjacent coastal plain. Balcones faulting during late Oligocene and Miocene marked the culmination of uplift along the west and north side of the Balcones Fault Zone.

e) Continued regional uplift during late Miocene and Pliocene elevated the western margins of the exposed Edwards carbonate bank, tilting the Plateau surface gently toward the southeast. Headward erosion from east and south established the basic pattern of headwater springs from the Plateau Aquifer sourcing outward-flowing streams that charged the newly created and expanding Edwards Underground Aquifer, where they crossed the faulted rocks of the Balcones Fault Zone. Approximately 5,000 cubic miles of rock was removed by erosion and solution from the Edwards Plateau, Llano Uplift, Hill Country and uppermost Gulf coastal plain as the result of Tertiary uplift and Balcones faulting.


Dr. Pete Rose (Ph. D., Geology, University of Texas, Austin) has been a professional geologist for 55 years, specializing in Petroleum Geology, E&P Risk Analysis, and Mineral Economics. Before going on his own in 1980 as an independent prospector and consultant, he worked for Shell Oil Company, the United States Geological Survey, and Energy Reserves Group, Inc, a small-cap Independent.

After 10 years as an internationally-recognized authority on economic risking of exploration drilling ventures, he founded Rose & Associates, LLP, in 1998. Pete retired in 2005; the firm continues as the global standard among consulting companies in that field, providing instruction, software and consulting services on an international scale.

Pete wrote the definitive geological monograph on the Edwards Limestone of Texas (Rose, 1972), and has continued related investigations to the present time. His 2001 book, Risk Analysis and Management of Petroleum Exploration Ventures, now in its 7th printing, is considered by many as the “Bible” on that topic, and has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. He has authored or co-authored more than 75 published articles on an extremely wide variety of geological topics (Micropaleontology to Petroleum Economics!). He was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Geological Society of London.

In 2005 he was the 89th President of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, an international organization that is the largest professional geological society in the world (>37,000 members).

In 2006-07 he was a member of the National Petroleum Council, involved with their summary of the global energy situation, Facing the Hard Truths about Energy, and was also deeply involved in successful efforts to encourage the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission to modernize its rules governing estimation and disclosure of oil and gas reserves, thus facilitating the investment component of the “shale revolution” in the U. S.

In 2013, the Geological Society of London awarded Peter R. Rose its prestigious Petroleum Group Medal for lifetime contributions to Petroleum Geology, the first American to be so recognized, and in 2014 the American Association of Petroleum Geologists honored him with its Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award.

Pete is a 5th-generation Texan. He and his wife Alice have 5 children and 8 grandchildren, and divide their time between Austin and their El Segundo Ranch near Telegraph, Texas. In retirement, he took up a new career as a historian: in September 2012, Texas Tech University Press published his book, The Reckoning: the Triumph of Order on the Texas Outlaw Frontier, about the coming of Order and Law to the western Hill Country and Edwards Plateau regions of Texas (1873-1883). He is also well known for field trips he leads with Dr. Charles Woodruff into the Texas Hill Country that combine the topics of Geology, Wineries, and Frontier History.

7:00 pm19:00

GRACE Satellite Contributions to the Geosciences

Clark Wilson, UT Austin

The GRACE satellite mission (a University of Texas-led mission) was launched in 2002 and continues to provide a new view of Earth with its precise measurement of the global gravity field and month-to-month changes. The GRACE global mean gravity field has improved the accuracy and spatial resolution over previous results by orders of magnitude. However, it is the astounding ability of GRACE to see month to month changes in the field that has revolutionized many aspects of the Earth Sciences. GRACE is able to see monthly mass changes on Earth’s surface with a precision of about a centimeter layer of water, at a spatial resolution of a few hundred square kilometers. The result has been entirely new quantitative measures of regional and global water balance, ice sheet mass budgets, post-glacial rebound, earthquake displacement fields, and other phenomena.


Clark R. Wilson has been a Professor at the University of Texas at Austin since 1976, following studies in physics and geophysics at the University of California San Diego, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He has been a member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists since 1969, of the American Geophysical Union since 1971, and was President of the Austin Geological Society 1983-84. He was Chairman of the UT Geological Sciences Department 1990-94 and 2004-07. From 1996-99 he was at NASA Headquarters, Washington DC, as Program Scientist for Geodynamics. Wilson was Geodynamics Section President of the International Association of Geodesy 2000-03, and is currently on the Directing Board of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Frames Service, and is Treasurer of UNAVCO, the GPS consortium of US universities.

6:30 pm18:30

Fault Zone Structure and Rheology from the Surface to the Base of the Lithosphere

Whitney Behr, UT Austin

The large-scale mechanical behavior of continental lithosphere in response to plate tectonic forces depends critically on the structure and rheology of planes of weakness within it (i.e. faults and associated shear zones). Because continental lithosphere is highly heterogeneous in composition, fault zone structure and rheology can be very complex and can show strong variations with depth. As a result, two questions related to continental deformation have remained unresolved for several decades:

1) What is the magnitude of the peak strength in the continental lithosphere and at what depth does the peak strength reside— the upper crust, lower crust or lithospheric mantle?

2) Although faults are narrow in the upper crust, what is their fate below the seismogenic layer where rocks transition from brittle deformation to ductile flow? Do they persist as narrow ductile shear zones, or at some depth do they sole into broadly distributed zones of ductile shear?

Experimental rock mechanics predicts specific answers to each of these questions, and these predictions can usefully be tested using a wide range of observations from different earth science fields, especially structural geology. In this talk I will briefly review the predictions about fault strength and structure that come from rock mechanics— then I’ll discuss past and ongoing research within my research group that aims to test these predictions through a range of observations of naturally deformed rocks derived from a wide range of depths and tectonic settings.



Whitney Behr is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at JSG. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at California State University Northridge in 2006 and her Ph.D. at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 2011. She then spent 11 months at Brown University in Rhode Island as a Postdoctoral Fellow before joining the Jackson School in August, 2012. Whitney is a structural geologist whose research incorporates a variety of field, analytical and experimental techniques all aimed toward understanding continental deformation in both active and ancient orogenic systems. Whitney presently teaches several courses at UT, including undergraduate Structural Geology and Field Camp, as well as graduate courses Microstructures and Rock Rheology, Active Tectonics, and Tectonic Problems.

6:00 pm18:00

Using Stable Isotopes as Fluid Tracers in the Crust and Upper Mantle

Jaime Barnes, UT Austin

Stable isotopes are excellent tracers of fluid sources and the extent of fluid-rock interaction in the crust and upper mantle. By tracing the source, we can make global mass balance calculations for volatile cycling on Earth. Determining volatile fluxes is critical to understanding the geochemical evolution of the Earth’s mantle and atmosphere and volcanic eruptive behavior. For my talk, I will trace volatile fluxes through subduction zones: from the initial hydration of the oceanic lithosphere, release of volatiles within the subduction zone, and the return of volatiles to the atmosphere through the volcanic front and to the Earth’s mantle within the dehydrated residual subducting slab.



Jaime Barnes is beginning her 6th year as an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Science at UT-Austin. Jaime is a stable isotope geochemist who uses stable isotopes as a geochemical tracer of fluids in various tectonic settings. Most of her research interests center around volatile cycling, metamorphism and volatile transport in subduction zones, serpentinization, and fluid-rock interactions and metasomatism in the high-temperature environment. However, she has been involved in a wide range of research, including the isotopic composition of lunar samples and hyperarid soils.

Jaime is a native Texan who received a B.S. in geology from UT, as well as, a B.A. in the Plan II Liberal Arts Honors Program. She completed a M.S., Ph.D., and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of New Mexico. Part of her post-doctoral fellowship was supported by a L’Oreal USA For Women in Science Fellowship. Jaime received the Subaru Outstanding Woman in Science award from the Geological Society of America in 2009. In 2011, she was selected as a member of the Society for Teaching Excellence at UT-Austin.