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Pete van Hengstum
Pete van Hengstum
(409) 740-4919
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Texas A&M University at Galveston
P.O. Box 1675 
Galveston, Texas 77553


Ph.D., Dalhousie University, Earth Sciences, 2010

M.Sc., McMaster University, Earth and Environmental Sciences, 2008

B.Sc. summa cum laude, McMaster University, Earth and Environmental Sciences, 2006


GEOL 101: Principles of Geology

GEOL 106: Historical Geology

MARS 305: Environmental Micropaleontology

Pete van Hengstum

Assistant Professor
Geological Oceanography: paleoclimate change, coastal geosciences

Research Interests

Our team diagnoses how global coastal systems responded to previous climate, sea-level and anthropogenic changes with the goal of predicting how these systems will respond to future changes in these forcings. This is typically achieved through a combined field (piston coring, vibracoring, advanced technical SCUBA diving, geophysical surveying) and laboratory approach (sedimentology, micropaleontology, and isotopic geochemistry). Of particular interest are climate-coastal dynamics on tropical and subtropical carbonate landscapes, where sinkholes, blueholes, and underwater caves provide a vast untapped library of paleoenvironmental information archived in their sediments. Some of the projects our team are currently investigating include: tropical precipitation and vegetation variability, cave and sinkhole sedimentology, biogeochemical cycling in the coastal carbonate zone, how aquifers in carbonate platforms respond to climate forcing, the landscape usage (e.g., groundwater, agriculture) of prehistoric populations (Mayans, Lucayans), coastal sea surface temperature variability, coastal cave ecosystem dynamics, and hurricane variability and coastal flooding.

Previous Appointments

  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 2011-2013

Selected Publications

Publications (* denotes student contributions):

van Hengstum, PJ, Donnelly, JP, Fall, P.L., Toomey, M.R., Albury, N. A., Kakuk, B., 2016, The intertropical convergence zone modulates intense hurricane strikes on the western North Atlantic margin, Scientific Reports, 6, 21728; doi: 10.1038/srep21728.

Winkler*, T.S., van Hengstum, P.J., Horgan, M.C., Donnelly, J.P., Reibenspies, J.H., 2016, Detrital cave sediments reveal late Quaternary hydrologic and climatic variability in northwestern Florida, USA, Sedimentary Geology, 335, 51-65.

van Hengstum, PJ, Bernhard, JM, 2016, A new species of brackish foraminifera from an inland Bahamian carbonate marsh, Journal of Foraminiferal Research, 46 (2), 193-200.

van Hengstum, PJ, Donnelly, JP, Kingston, AW, Williams, B., Scott, DB, Reinhardt, EG, Little, SN, Patterson, W, Late Holocene low frequency storminess in Bermuda linked to cooling events in the North Atlantic region. Paleoceanography (in press).

Donnelly, JP, Hawkes, AD, Lane, P, MacDonald, D, Shuman, BN, Toomey, MR, van Hengstum, PJ, Woodruff, JD. Climate forcing of unprecedented intense-hurricane activity over the last 2,000 years. Earth's Future (in press).

van Hengstum, PJ, Onac, BP, Richards, DA, Dorale, JA, 2015, Coastal sinkholes and caves, (In) Handbook of Sea-level Research, (eds.) Horton, BP, Long, A., Shennan, B., John Wiliey and Sons, pgs 83-103.

Donnelly, J.D., Anderson, J.B., Hawkes, A.D., Otvos, E., Toomey, M.R., van Hengstum, P.J., Wallace, D.J., Woodruff, J.D., 2014, Comment on: “The geological legacy of Hurricane Irene: implications for the fidelity of the paleo-storm record” GSA Today Online, pages e28-29, doi: 10.1130/GSATG205C.1.

Brown, A, Reinhardt, EG, van Hengstum, PJ, Pilarcyzk, JE, 2014, A coastal Yucatan sinkhole records intense hurricane events, Journal of Coastal Research 30 (2), 418-428.

van Hengstum, PJ, Donnelly, JP, Toomey, MR, Albury, NA, Kakuk, B, 2014, Heightened hurricane activity from 1350 to 1650 AD in the northern Bahamas. Continental Shelf Research 86, 103-115.

Kovacs, SE, van Hengstum, PJ, Reinhardt, EG, Donnelly, JP, Albury, NA, 2013, The late Holocene flooding history of Runway Sinkhole: a partially flooded coastal karst basin in the northern Bahamas, Quaternary International317, 118-132.

Toomey, MR, Curry, WB, Donnelly, JP, van Hengstum, PJ, 2013, Reconstructing 7000 years of North Atlantic hurricane variability using deep-sea sediment cores from the western Great Bahama Bank. Paleoceanography 28 (1), 31-41.

van Hengstum, PJ, Scott, DB, 2012, Sea-level rise and coastal circulation controlled Holocene groundwater development in Bermuda and caused a meteoric lens to collapse 1600 years ago. Marine Micropaleontology 90-91, 29-43.

van Hengstum, PJ, Scott, DB, Gröcke, DR, Charette, MR, 2011, Sea level controls sedimentation and environments in coastal caves and sinkholes, Marine Geology 286, 35-50.

van Hengstum, PJ, Scott, DB, 2011, Ecology of foraminifera and habitat variability in an underwater cave: distinguishing anchialine versus submarine cave environments. Journal of Foraminiferal Research 41 (3), 201-229.

van Hengstum, PJ, Reinhardt, EG, Beddows, PA, Gabriel, JJ, 2010, Investigating linkages between Holocene paleoclimate and paleohydrogeology in Mexican underwater cave sediments. Quaternary Science Reviews 29, 2788-2798.

van Hengstum, PJ, Scott, DB, Javaux, EJ, 2009b, Foraminifera in Bermudian caves provide further evidence for a +21 m eustatic sea level during Marine Isotope Stage 11. Quaternary Science Reviews 28, 1850-1860.

van Hengstum, PJ, Reinhardt, EG, Beddows, PA, Schwarcz, HP, Gabriel, JJ, 2009a, Foraminifera and testate amoebae (thecamoebians) in an anchialine cave: Surface distributions from Aktun Ha (Carwash) cave system, Mexico. Limnology and Oceanography 54 (1), 391-396.

Gabriel, JJ, Reinhardt, EG, Peros, MC, Davidson, DE, van Hengstum, PJ, Beddows, PA, 2009, Palaeoenvironmental evolution of cenote Aktun Ha (Carwash) on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and its response to Holocene sea level rise. Journal of Paleolimnology 42 (2), 199-213.

van Hengstum, PJ, Reinhardt, EG, Beddows, PA, Huang, RJ, Gabriel, JJ, 2008a, Thecamoebians (testate amoebae) and foraminifera from three anchialine cenotes in Mexico: low salinity (1.5 – 4.5 psu) faunal transitions. Journal of Foraminiferal Research 38 (4), 305-317.

van Hengstum, PJ, Gröcke, DR, 2008, Middle Devonian (Eifelian – Givetian) ocean anoxic event: high resolution stable isotopic record of the Kačák Event at Hungry Hollow, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 45, 353-366.

van Hengstum, PJ, Reinhardt, EG, Medioli, FS, Gröcke, DR, 2007b, Exceptionally preserved late Cretaceous (Albian) Thecamoebians (Arcellaceans) from the Dakota Formation near Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. Journal of Foraminiferal Research 37(4), 300-308.

van Hengstum, PJ, Reinhardt, EG, Boyce, JI, Clark, C, 2007a, Changing sedimentation patterns due to historical land-use change in Frenchman’s Bay, Pickering, Canada: evidence from high-resolution textural analysis. Journal of Paleolimnology 37, 603-618.

Reinhardt, EG, Goodman, BN, Boyce, JI, Lopez, G, van Hengstum, P, Rink, WJ, Mart, Y, Raban, A, 2006, The tsunami of December 13, 115 A.D. and the destruction of Herod the Great’s Harbor at Caesarea Maritima, Israel. Geology 34 (12), 1061-1064.

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