From the Editor

Serendipity is one of the most exciting ways to make a discovery. Our first feature this month tells the story of archaeological serendipity in the oil patch. While surveying the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico for any obstacles that might interfere with laying a natural gas pipeline, archaeologists with a geotechnical engineering firm found a unique one: a German U-boat that, according to the official records, went down somewhere else. Equipped with a deep-roving Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and other technologies developed for the deepwater oil industry, these archaeologists solved a World War II mystery.

Our second feature tells the story of what can happen when luck, serendipity and perseverance combine with a strong sense of loyalty. Long-time University of Texas professor and former state geologist William Fisher continues to nurture an almost 20-year-old friendship with John A. Jackson, a Texas oilman and entrepreneur. Based on this long friendship, and his Texas-sized generosity, Jackson worked with Fisher to establish the John A. and Katherine G. Jackson School for Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin and has promised one of the largest gifts ever for the academic geosciences. Here we tell the story behind that gift and learn how the leaders of the new Jackson School are planning to make the most of it.

One research initiative that the Jackson School leaders want to focus their school's attention on is advancing our knowledge and understanding of water resources, particularly in the dry southwestern United States. As if to remind us of the significance of water, drought and its domino effects have hit the United States hard this summer, perhaps the hardest in a generation. This month's Geophenomena section looks at how scientists monitor drought and help prepare for its consequences, such as wildfire and — when the rains finally do come — erosion and flooding of denuded land.

We are also introducing a new Mineral Resource of the Month column in the Energy and Resources section. Working with the mineral experts at the U.S. Geological Survey, Geotimes staff writer Lisa Pinsker has put together the first of these featuring cobalt. Each month, we will offer statistics and the latest news on a selected metal, mineral or rock. This information adds to the monthly energy numbers and short news stories on energy and resource issues.

We hope you make your own serendipitous discoveries as you read this diverse issue of Geotimes.

David Applegate,

Kristina E. Bartlett,
Managing Editor

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