Dr. Jonathan Obrist-Farner, Associate Professor of Geology and Geophysics

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Open slide 1 link Folks on a boat in the water
Dr. Obrist-Farner will be conducting an ICDP workshop in Antigua, Guatemala in August 2022.
Open slide 2 link Folks on a boat in the water with overcast weather
Dr. Obrist-Farner was awarded the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, a five-year $720,000 grant.
Open slide 3 link
Dr. Obrist-Farner was recently awarded by the National Science Foundation's Division of Earth Science four-year $605,000 grant



  • Lake Izabal Endeavor
  • Research Projects

Lake Izabal Endeavor

The LIBRE [Lake Izabal Basin Research Endeavor] Scientific Drilling Workshop: Drilling and coring the Lake Izabal Basin

September 1, 2019   -   August 31, 2021

Sponsor: NSF, National Science Foundation


LIBRE-Lake Izabal Basin Research Endeavor

March 30, 2020   -   May 31, 2022

Sponsor: Intl Continental Sci Drilling Program


The Lake Izabal Basin in eastern Guatemala developed along the Polochic Fault, the northern fault of the Polochic-Motagua Fault System (PMFS), the inland extension of the North American and Caribbean plate boundary. In 1976, the plate boundary ruptured in a 7.5 Mw earthquake, killing >23,000 people and causing catastrophic damage to homes and other infrastructure in Guatemala.

Despite sharing characteristics with the North Anatolian, San Andreas, and Dead Sea faults, relatively little is known about this plate boundary. The Izabal Basin developed ~12 My ago and has accumulated >4 km of sediment because of continuous sinistral movement along the Polochic Fault. The presence of the northern strand of the Polochic Fault along the north shore of Lake Izabal, along with the thick sediment cover, make the site ideal for the multidisciplinary study of past tectonic, climatic, volcanic, and biological changes in the area.

Our research project has two main objectives. First, we will drill, log, and core the Polochic Fault to investigate the loading state of the fault and assess seismic risk. Second, we will target the progradational infill of the Lake Izabal Basin along the depocenter migration axis, with the goal of recovering overlapping cores that contain a record spanning at least 1, and possibly as much as 5-10 My. Data from the cores will provide information about climate in the Neotropics over multiple glacial-interglacial cycles, the origin, extinction, and migration of species in the area, and volcanic activity along the Central American volcanic arc.

Research Projects

  • Testing the sequence stratigraphy paradigm along the Jurassic-Cretaceous passive margin of the Mahajanga Basin, Madagascar
  • TIGRE – Tectonic Interactions of North America, Caribbean, Cocos plates in Guatemala – A research Endeavor
  • Investigating sea-level rise along with the marginal marine and coastal system in eastern Guatemala
  • Paleoseismicity along the North American-Caribbean Plate Boundary: Research, Education and Outreach
  • Snapshots of Miocene to Recent Paleoenvironmental and Paleoecological Conditions in the Northern Neotropics

Additional Publications


Dr. Obrist's current research interests include the understanding of sedimentary processes controlling basin fill and evolution. One of his goals is to decipher the signals in the sedimentary record to interpret past climate and tectonic processes and paleoenvironmental conditions at a variety of timescales.

He utilizes diverse tools, including field, sedimentological, geophysical, and laboratory techniques, that provide unique perspectives to interpret the geological record. He has been involved in projects attempting to understand deep-time paleoclimate changes during the Permo-Triassic mass extinction and during the Late Paleozoic Ice Age, Holocene climate and tectonic changes in Guatemala, and in hydrocarbon exploration projects in western Africa and Madagascar.

  • B.Sc. - Geosciences - Wichita State University
  • M.Sc. - Geosciences - Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Ph.D. - Geosciences - Missouri University of Science and Technology


Phone: (573) 341-7879

332 McNutt Hall, Rolla MO 65409

Dr. Obrist-Farner Resume

Edward Duarte
Fahad Alkhaldi
Erdoo Mongol
Brooke Birkett

Student Research Assistants

Edward Duarte, Ph.D. candidate

Fahad Alkhaldi, M.Sc. - Now at Kuwait Oil Company

Erdoo Mongol, Ph.D. candidate - Co-advised with Franca Oboh-Ikuenobe

Brooke Birkett, M.Sc. student