Department of Geosciences

School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Faculty and Research

John W. Geissman


University of Michigan Geology B.S. 1973,
Highest Honors
University of Michigan Geology M.S. 1976
University of Michigan Geology PhD. 1980
Phi Beta Kappa, 1973
Fellow, Geological Society of America, 1995
Crosby Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2004
Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 2006

Academic and Salient Professional Experiences

2010-: Professor of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Dallas
2010-: Vice President, Geological Society of America
1993- 2010: Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences (and Department Chair from 2007 to 2010), University of New Mexico
2001-2010: Science Editor, Eos
1999-2002: President, University of New Mexico Faculty Senate
1997-present: Adjunct Professor, University of Michigan
1995-2000: Editor, Bulletin of the Geological Society of America
1987-1993: Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico
1984-1987: Assistant Professor of Geology, University of New Mexico
1980-1984: Assistant Professor of Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines
1978-1980: Research Associate and Lecturer, University of Toronto
1974-1979: Graduate Student, University of Michigan

Other Recent Service Experiences

2005-2009, GSA Councilor
2005-present, AE, Tectonics
2005-present, Board, Building Stronger Geoscience Departments Program
2005-2007, Chair, UNM Committee on Governance
2003-2008, NSF Earthscope Science panel
 2002, 2005: Technical Program Chair, GSA Meeting
2000-2001, Chair, AGU Committee on Creation Science Policy Statement
2000-2003, Chair, AGU Sullivan/Perlman Committee;
1999-present, Editorial Board, National Center for Science Education
1999- 2002 President UNM Faculty Senate
1995-2000, GSA Publications Committee,
1989-1966, 2001-2004, Editorial Board, Geology,
1988-1999 AE, Journal of Geophysical Research
 1989--1991 Secretary, Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism, AGU
 1988-1995 Associate Editor, GSA Bulletin

Research and Related Interests:

My research (and other) interests include:

  1. Paleomagnetism
    Research in understanding and using the fossil magnetism in geologic materials at the University of Texas at Dallas goes back to the grand period of time when the hypothesis of sea floor spreading and reversals of the geomagnetic field were being elevated to viable theories to explain truly first order Earth processes.    Research by Chuck Helsley, Gary Scott, Wulf Gose, K. Graham, Maureen Steiner, Gary Scott, Scott Reeve, and others contributed greatly to our understanding of the fossil magnetism preserved in rocks of North America, as paleomagnetic research was expanding across the globe.   It is a privilege and treat to be able to resurrect a laboratory in paleomagnetic research at UT Dallas!    Current and near-future research projects include (1) tectonic evolution of the western and north-central Great Basin, (2) tectonic evolution of parts of the eastern syntaxial region, Himalayas, (3) paleomagnetism of the Karoo intrusive series, (4) magnetostratigraphy and geochronology of  Upper Permian/lowermost Triassic strata, west-Texas and eastern New Mexico, (5) magnetostratigraphy of early Hominid bearing strata, Libya, (6) paleomagnetism and magnetostratigraphy of Upper Permian to lowermost Triassic strata, Turpan Basin, (7) the Colorado Plateau Coring Project—over 100 Ma of nearly continuous stratigraphic record, (8) paleomagnetism and geochronology of the central Montana alkalic province. 
  2. Rock Magnetism
    Rock magnetic studies have improved our understanding of how geologically significant magnetizations in an array of geologic materials are acquired and carried by magnetic phases, and in particular how particle size, shape, chemistry, distribution, and origin relate to such stable magnetizations.   Current rock magnetic research includes understanding the controls on magnetic fabrics in a wide range of intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks, by examining anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) and anisotropy of magnetic remanence (particularly AARM) in relation to several rock magnetic parameters, and the magnetic mineralogy.
  3. Conveying the Importance of Science to Our Society
    Science, and in particular the Geosciences, have never been more important and relevant to decision making processes at all levels, as the human race contemplates how to keep itself from being eliminated in the near future.  Professional Geoscience societies, like the Geological Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, play a great role in fostering the importance of Geoscience, through peer-reviewed publications, an array of meetings, and interaction with local, state, and federal agencies.  The survival of these professional societies is dependent on the volunteer efforts of their members.  I am looking forward to continued service to the Geological Society of America as Vice President beginning in July, 2010, and President in the following year. 
  4. Removing Ignorance as Well as Fear of Science in Our Society
    Science is the only way of knowing about the natural world.   This is a fact, and there is no disputing it.  The 1999 National Academy of Sciences publication Science and Creationism states, “The tremendous success of science in explaining natural phenomena and fostering technical innovation arises from its focus on explanations that can be inferred from confirmable data.”  This publication also describes important and very frequently used terms in Science, including Theory: “In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.”  The immense problems facing the human race can only be solved by a scientifically literate society.
  5. Good music played on a nice system
    Not much more to say on this one, especially using well-preserved vinyl.

Recent and In Press/In Review Publications:

Zeigler, K. E. and J. W. Geissman, 2011, Magnetostratigraphy of the Upper Triassic Chinle Group of New Mexico: Implications for regional and global correlations among Upper Triassic sequences,  Geosphere, in press.

Godinez-Urban, A., R. S. Molina-Garza, et al. (2011). "Paleomagnetism of the Todos Santos and La Silla Formations, Chiapas: Implications for the Opening of the Gulf of Mexico." Geosphere 7: 145-158.
Lucas, S. G., L. H. Tanner, et al. (2011). "Position of the Triassic-Jurassic boundary and timing of the end-Triassic extinctions on land: Data from the Moenave Formation on the southern Colorado Plateau, USA." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 302: 194-205.
Geissman, J. W., Holm, D. K., Harlan, S. S., and Embree, G., 2010, Paleomagnetic evidence for rapid, high temperature formation of large-scale rheomorphic structures in the upper Pliocene Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, east-central Idaho: Geology, v. 38, p. 263-266.

Naibert, T. J., Geissman, J. W., and Heizler, M., 2010, Magnetic fabric, paleomagnetic, and 40Ar/39Ar geochronologic data bearing on the emplacement of the Philipsburg Batholith, southwest Montana fold/thrust belt: Lithosphere, 2, p. 303-327.

Donohoo- Hurley, L. L., Geissman, J. W., and Lucas, S. G., 2010, Magnetostratigraphy of the uppermost Triassic/lowest Jurassic Moenave Formation western USA, and Correlations with strata from the eastern USA, Morocco, and United Kingdom: Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, 122, p. 2005-2019.

Sussman, A. J., Lewis, C. J., Mason, S. N., Geissman, J. W., Oliva-Urchia, B., Schultz-Fellenz, E., and Gardner, J., 2011, Paleomagnetism of the Quaternary Bandelier Tuff: Implications for the Tectonic Evolution of the Rio Grande Rift, in Hudson, M. R., and Grauch, T., eds., New Perspectives on the Rio Grande Rift: From Tectonics to Groundwater: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America Special Paper, in press.

Connell, S. D., Smith, G. A., Geissman, J., and McIntosh, W., 2011, Tectonic and climatic controls on Upper Cenozoic nonmarine depositional sequences, Albuquerque Basin, Rio Grande rift, north-central New Mexico, in Hudson, M. R., and Grauch, T., ed., New Perspectives on the Rio Grande Rift: From Tectonics to Groundwater: Boulder, Geological Society of America Special Paper, in press.

Molina-Garza, R. S., Geissman, J. W., Wawrzyniec, T. F., Weber, B., Lopez Martinez, M., and Aranda-Gomez, J., 2009, An integrated magnetic and geological study of cataclasite dominated pseudotachylites in the Chiapas Massif, Mexico: A snap-shot of stress orientation following slip: Geophysical Journal International, v. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04046.x.

Petronis, M. S., Geissman, J. W., Oldow, J. S., and McIntosh, W. C., 2009, Late Miocene to Pliocene vertical-axis rotation attending development of the Silver Peak-Line Mountain displaceemnt transfer zone, west-central Nevada, in Oldow, J. S., and Cashman, P. H., eds., Late Cenozoic Structure and Evolution of the Great Basin-Sierra Nevada Transition: Boulder, CO, Geological Society of America Special Paper 447, p. 215-254.

Ferranti, L., Oldow, J. S., Geissman, J. W., and Neil, M. M., 2009, Flattening strain during coordinated slip on a curved fault array, Rhodes Salt Marsh extensional basin, central Walker Lane, west-central Nevada, in Oldow, J. S., and Cashman, P. H., eds., Late Cenozoic Structural and Evolution of the Great Basin-Sierra Nevada Transition: Boulder, Geological Society of America Special Paper 447, p. 189-214.

Misra, S., Newsom, H. E., Prasad, M. S., Geissman, J. W., Dube, A., and Sengupta, D., 2009, Geochemical identification of impactor for Lonar crater, India: Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences, v. 44, no. 7, p. 1001-1018.

Walker, J. D., and Geissman, J. W., 2009, 2009 GSA Geologic Time Scale: Commentary: GSA Today, v. 19, no. 4, p. 60-61.

Harlan, S. S., and Geissman, J. W., 2009, Paleomagnetism of Tertiary intrusive and volcaniclastic rocks of the Cerillos Hills and Surrounding region, Espanola basin, New Mexico, U.S.A.: Implications for vertical axis rotations associate with extension of the Rio Grande rift: Lithosphere, v. 1, p. doi:10.1130/L53.1.

Shearer, C. K., Burger, P. V., Neal, C., Sharp, Z., Borg, L., Papike, J. J., Karner, J., Spivak-Birndorf, L., Wadhwa, M., Atudorei, N.-V., Gaffney, A., Shafer, J., Fernandes, V. A., Geissman, J. W., and Herd, C., 2009, Non-basaltic asteroidal melting during the earliest stages of solar system evolution, A view from GRA 06128 and GRA 06129: Geochemica et Cosmochemica Acta.

"long, strange trip" it continues to be, in Whitmeyer, S. J., Mogk, D. W., and Pyle, E. J., eds., Field Geology Education: Historical Perspectives and Modern Approaches: Boulder, Geological Society of America Special Paper 461, p. 35-44.

Graduate Students Supervised (1992-present):

Linda Donohoo-Hurley, 2011, PhD, “Paleomagnetism of the uppermost Triassic/lowermost Jurassic Moenave Formation, Utah and Arizona, and the environmental magnetism of a late Quaternary lacustrine sequence, Valles Caldera, New Mexico”

Stephanie Mason, 2011, MS, “Paleomagnetism of selected regionally extensive ash flow tuffs, eastern San Juan Mountains and bearing on the tectonic evolution of the Rio Grande rift, and a comparison of anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility and anisotropy of ARM in ash flow tuffs.

Sean Connell, 2010, PhD (co-advised), “Fluvial sedimentation in continental half-graben basins”

Jenn Boyd, 2010, PhD (co-advised) , “Colono wares in the western Spanish borderlands: A ceramic technological study”.

Kate Zeigler, 2008, PhD, “Paleomagnetism and magnetostratigraphy of the Upper Triassic Chinle Group, Chama Basin, north-central New Mexico”

Travis Naibert, 2009, MS, “Timing and emplacement mechanisms of the Philipsburg Batholith from 40Ar/39Ar geochronology and magnetic fabrics and an evaluation of the anisotropy of anhysteretic remanent magnetization method applied to selected intrusive igneous rocks”

Jack Grow 2009, MS, Paleomagnetic data bearing on the evolution of the Walker Lane belt transfer zone from mid-Miocene to Present: An investigation of the inferred southern and eastern boundaries”

Scott Muggleton , 2006, MS, “Paleomagnetism and anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility of the Spanish Peaks igneous complex, south-central Colorado: Implications for the North American mid-Cenozoic reference paleomagnetic pole and magma emplacement mechanisms”.

Mike Petronis, 2005, PhD, “Cenozoic evolution of the central Walker Lane Belt, west-central Nevada”

Caitlin Callahan (co-advised), 2006, MS, “Magnetic properties of unaltered and metasomatized mantle xenoliths from the Rio Puerco volcanic necks, New Mexico”

James Ashby, 2005, MS, “Paleomagnetic and fault kinematic assessment of Laramide-age deformation in the central and eastern Uinta Mountains, Colorado and Utah”

Jason Rampe, 2005, MS, “Paleomagnetism and 40Ar/39Ar geochronology of the mid-Tertiary Cripple Creek  Diatreme Complex and Related Rocks”

Gordon Keating (co-advised), PhD, 2002, “Multiphase thermal modeling in volcanic and contact metamorphic terranes”                   

Tim Wawrzyniec (co-advised), PhD, 2001, “Dextral Transcurrent Deformation of the Eastern Margin of the Colorado Plateau (USA) and the Mechanics of Footwall Uplift Along the Simplon Normal Fault (Switzerland/Italy)”

Mike Petronis, 2000, MS, “Paleomagnetic data bearing on vertical axis rotation associated with a simple-shear transfer system in the Silver Peak Range, west-central Nevada”

Tracy Cascadden (co-advised), 1997, PhD, “Quaternary volcanism in the Colorado Plateau-Basin and Range Transition Zone: Zuni-Bandera and nearby volcanic fields”

Eileen Romano, MS, 1998, “Late Paleozoic remagnetization of the Cambro-Ordovician Bliss Formation in the Fra Crisotobal Range and Caballo Mountains, Sierra County, New Mexico”
Marc Melker, 1997, MS, “Paleomagnetism of the Oquirrh Mountains and implications for the Cenozoic structural history of the easternmost Great Basin 

Mike Grubensky (co-advised), 1996, PhD, “Volcanic Breccias: Evaluation of fragment and deposit origins and distribution within composite volcanoes”

Suzanne Meuret, 1994, MS, “A paleomagnetic and rock magnetic study of a ca. 1.4 Ga regional metamorphic pulse in central New Mexico”

Harry Rowe, 1995, MS, “A rock magnetic and paleomagnetic record for the latest Pleistocene from the Estancia Basin, central New Mexico” .

Rick Livaccari, 1996, PhD, “Role of extensional deformation in the late Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonic evolution of the         western U.S. Cordillera: A regional tectonic model and paleomagnetic study of the South Mountains metamorphic core complex”

Greg Overtoom (co-advised, University of Utah), MS, “Synvolcanic Oligocene stress reorientation in eastern Nevade: evidence from the Golden Gate Range”

John Odard Dutton Byrd (co-advised, University of Utah), 1994, PhD, “Neotectonics of the Teton Fault, Wyoming”

Steve Harlan, PhD, 1992, “Paleomagnetism and geochronology of selected Precambrian igneous rocks, western US Cordillera”

  • Updated: April 15, 2011