Debbie Thomas

Debbie Thomas


Executive Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs of Texas A&M University at Galveston and Associate Provost of Texas A&M University

Geological Oceanography: Paleoceanography; Sediment Geochemistry; Greenhouse Climates

  (979) 845-4016

  Eller O&M 713


My primary research interest is paleoceanography of the Cretaceous and Cenozoic, using the deep-sea sedimentary record to investigate the role of the deep oceans in global heat transport during different overall climate states. In particular, I use radiogenic isotopes, stable isotopes, and trace element geochemistry to reconstruct the patterns of deep-water formation and circulation that operated under different boundary conditions.

Selected Publications

  • *Murphy, D.P. and Thomas, D.J., in review, Paleoceanography, Middle Cretaceous Deep-water Formation in the Indian Sector of the Southern Ocean.
  • *Woodard, S., Thomas, D.J., Marcantonio, F., accepted, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, Thorium-derived Dust Fluxes to the Paleocene Tropical Pacific Ocean, 58Ma.
  • * Hague, A.M., Thomas, D.J., Huber, M., Korty, R., Woodard, S., Jones, L.B, submitted to Geology, Convection of North Pacific Deep Water During the Early Cenozoic.
  • *Woodard, S., Thomas, D.J., Hovan, S., Röhl, U., and Westerhold, T., 2011, Evidence for Eccentricity Forcing of Dust Accumulation During the early Cenozoic Greenhouse Climate Interval, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst, 12,2, doi:10.1029/2010GC003394.
  • Robinson, S.A., *Murphy, D.P., Vance, D., and Thomas, D.J., 2010, Formation of ‘Southern Component Water’ in the Late Cretaceous: evidence from Nd isotopes, Geology 38, 871-874.
  • *Murphy, D.P. and Thomas, D.J., 2010, The role of intermediate water circulation in stadial-interstadial oxygenation variations along the southern California margin, Quaternary Science Reviews 29, 2442-2450.
  • Gleason, J.D., Thomas, D.J., Moore, T.C., Jr., Blum, J.D., Owen, R.M., and Haley, B.A., 2009., Early to middle Eocene History of the Arctic Ocean from Nd-Sr isotopes in fossil fish debris, Lomonosov Ridge,Paleoceanography, 24, PA2215, doi:10.1029/2008PA001685
  • *Okafor, C.U., Thomas, D.J., Wade, B., Firth, J., 2009, Environmental Change in the Subtropics During the late-middle Eocene Greenhouse and Global Implications, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst, 10, Q07003, doi:10.1029/2009GC002450
  • Marcantonio, F., Thomas, D.J., *Woodard, S., McGee, D., and Winckler, G., 2009, Extraterrestrial 3He in Paleocene sediments from Shatsky Rise, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 287, 24-30
  • Thomas, D.J., Lyle, M., Moore, T.C.,Jr., and Rea, D.K., 2008, Paleogene Deep-water Mass Composition of the Tropical Pacific and Implications for Thermohaline Circulation in a Greenhouse World, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 9, Q02002, doi:10.1029/2007GC001748.
  • Thomas, D.J. and Via, R.K., 2007, Neogene Evolution of Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation: Perspective from Walvis Ridge, southeastern Atlantic Ocean, Paleoceanography, 22, PA2212, doi:10.1029/2006PA001297.
  • *Via, R.K. and Thomas, D.J., 2006, Evolution of Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation - Timing of the onset of Deep-water Production in the North Atlantic, Geology, 34, 441-444. 
  • Rea, D.K., Lyle, M.W., Liberty, L.M., Hovan, S.A., Bolyn, M.P., Gleason, J.D., Hendy, I.L., Latimer, J.C., Murphy, B.M., Owen, R.M., Paul, C.F., Rea, T.H.C., Stancin, A.M., Thomas, D.J., 2006, Broad region of no sediment in the southwest Pacific basin, Geology, 34, 10, 873-876.
  • Thomas, D.J., 2005, Reconstructing ancient deep-sea circulation patterns using the Nd isotopic composition of fossil fish debris, in Isotopic and Elemental Tracers of Late Cenozoic Climate Change , GSA Spec. Pub., v. 395, D. Surge and G. Mora, eds., p. 1-12.
  • Thomas, D.J., Bralower, T.J., 2005 , The timing of North Atlantic Igneous Province volcanism relative to the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum: Implications for the use of metal concentrations for Large Igneous Province activity. Marine Geology , 217, 233-254.
  • Frank, T.D., Thomas, D.J., Leckie, R.M., Arthur, M.A., Bown, P.R., Jones, K., and Lees, J.A., 2005, The Maastrichtian record from a depth transect on Shatsky Rise (northwest Pacific): a tropical perspective on global ecological and oceanographic changes. Paleoceanography, 20, PA1008, 1-14.
  • Thomas, D.J., 2004, Evidence for Production of North Pacific Deep Waters During the early Cenozoic Greenhouse. Nature, 430, 65-68.
  • Thomas, D.J., Bralower, T.J., and Jones, C.E., 2003, Neodymium Isotopic Reconstruction of Late Paleocene - Early Eocene Thermohaline Circulation. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett ., 209, 309-322.
  • Thomas, D.J. , Zachos, J.C., Bralower, T.J., Thomas, E., and Bohaty, S., 2002, Warming the Fuel for the Fire: Evidence for the thermal dissociation of methane hydrate during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum. Geology , 30: 1067-1070.
  • Thomas, D.J., Bralower, T.J., and Zachos, J.C., 1999, New evidence for subtropical warming during the late Paleocene thermal maximum: Stable isotopes from Deep Sea Drilling Project Site 527, Walvis Ridge. Paleoceanography , 14: 561-570.
  • Bralower, T.J., Thomas, D.J., Thomas, E., and Zachos, J.C., 1998. Reply. Geology , 26: 671.
  • Bralower, T.J., Thomas, D.J., Zachos, J.C., Hirschmann, M.M., Rohl, U., Sigurdsson, H., Thomas E., and Whitney, D.L., 1997, High-resolution records of late Paleocene thermal maximum and circum-Caribbean volcanism: Is there a causal link? Geology , 25: 963-966.
  • Herbert, T.D., Schuffert, J.D., Thomas, D., Lange, C., Weinheimer, A., Peleo-Alampay, A., and Herguera, J.-C., 1999, A core-top calibration of alkenone unsaturation in California Margin sediments. Paleoceanography, 13: 263-271. 

    *indicates student primary authorship


Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2002

M.S., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1998

B.S., Brown University, 1995


  • Freshman Convocation Keynote Speaker, Texas A&M, 2010
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, 2008-2009
  • Montague Center for Teaching Excellence Scholar Award, Texas A&M, 2008
  • Distinguished Achievement Teaching Award (College Level), Texas A&M Association of Former Students, 2007

Additional Information

  • Evolution of Atlantic thermohaline circulation patterns from the early Cenozoic "greenhouse" mode to the modern "icehouse" mode
  • Investigation of the role of Pacific thermohaline circulation in the climates of the Cretaceous and Paleogene
  • Use of radiogenic isotopes to estimate changes in the flux of ancient deep-water production
  • Reconstruction of the onset of deep-water circulation as the South Atlantic basins opened during the Early to Late Cretaceous
  • Eolian sedimentation in the Pacific during the Paleogene


  • Professor, Texas A&M University, September 2015 - present
  • Associate Professor, Texas A&M University, September 2010 - August 2015
  • Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University, January 2004 - August 2010
  • Post-doctoral Researcher, University of North Carolina, May 2002 - December 2004

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