Dr. Jonathan Obrist-Farner

Assistant Professor in Geology and Geophysics


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.



Phone: (573) 341-7879

332 McNutt Hall, Rolla MO 65409



  • B.Sc. - Geosciences - Wichita State University
  • M.Sc. - Geosciences - Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Ph.D. - Geosciences - Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Lake Izabal Endeavor
  • Future Proposals

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

Total Budget: $49,892.00


LIBRE-Lake Izabal Basin Research Endeavor

March 30, 2020   -   May 31, 2022

Sponsor: Intl Continental Sci Drilling Program

Total Budget: $52,000.00


The Lake Izabal Basin in eastern Guatemala developed along the Polochic Fault, the northern fault of the Polochic-Motagua Fault System (PMFS), the onland 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. 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 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.

Future Proposals

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

Student Research Assistants

Edward Duarte, Ph.D. candidate

Elisandra Hernandez, Ph.D. - Teaching Professor at Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala

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

Brook Birkett, M.Sc. student

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