Wiess School of Natural Sciences
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Rice Science Café: Texas Ranch Yields Ancient Reef

Lecture/Lecture Series

Dean of Natural Sciences

By: André Droxler, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Earth Science
When: Tuesday, May 2, 2017
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Where: Black Labrador Pub, Churchill Room
4100 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, Texas
USA

Abstract: When you survey the cliffs overlooking the Llano River in Central Texas, it’s hard to imagine that they were underwater a half-billion years ago and formed part of the North American coastline during the Upper Cambrian era. But that’s what brought Rice marine geologist André Droxler and his team of researchers on a rare land-based expedition.

Droxler has spent most of his career studying the evolution of deep ocean environments, from Belize to the Maldives and the Great Barrier Reef.

“I never thought you could discover something on land,” he said. “To discover something in the middle of Texas, it’s pretty exciting.” According to Droxler, the area near Fredericksburg has some of the best outcrops in the world containing fossilized prehistoric bacteria and microbes. He believes these microbial reefs contained the first forms of life on Earth.

Since 2012, the Rice professor and his graduate students have made many trips to Mason County, drilled more than 150 core samples and virtually mapped the area using a drone. Droxler said the three summers here “have been some of the happiest summers I have had in my life,” and he returns with the same excitement as the first time he paddled down the Llano River in search of half-billion-year-old “time capsules.”

Seating is first come, first serve--the room has a limited capacity.

Free parking in the garage behind the Black Lab.