Dr. James Thompson

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Research Assistant Professor

James Thompson is a Research Associate in the State of Texas Advanced Resource Recovery (STARR) program and the PI of a NASA FireSense Technology project. His principal expertise focuses on developing novel remote sensing and geospatial techniques to understand the thermodynamics of terrestrial processes across spatial and temporal scales and determine the consequent societal impacts. He specializes in applying a multi-instrument approach utilizing a variety of data types to evaluate different surface characteristics and apply these to geological modeling applications. Currently, James is leading an effort developing miniature thermal infrared (TIR) imaging systems for deployment on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to improve understanding of wildfire behavior in Texas. This effort advances the derivation of critical gas flux rates in 3D (i.e., SO2, CO2, and NH3) that will help to identify wildfire burn efficiencies and the impacts of wildfires on ecosystems and air quality. 

Research Interests

Thermodynamics of geological processes

Infrared spectroscopy 

Geohazards and surface geology

Multi-scale land surface modeling


Ph.D., Geology and Environmental Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 2020

M.Sc., Volcanology, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K., 2015

B.Sc., Geology, University of Southampton, Southampton, U.K., 2014

Professional History

Research Associate, Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, 2023-present

Post-Doctoral Researcher, Baylor University and University of Pittsburgh, 2020-2023

NASA Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2017-2020

Intern Researcher, Colima Exchange and Research in Volcanology, University of Colima, Mexico, Winter/Spring 2016

Selected Publications

Thompson, J.O., Williams, D.B., and Ramsey, M.S. The Expectations and Prospects for Quantitative Volcanology in the Upcoming SBG Era, Earth and Space Science, 10, (5), e2022EA002817, 2023.

Shreevastava, A., Hulley, G., and Thompson, J.O., Algorithms for detecting sub‐pixel elevated temperature features for the NASA Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) designated observable, JGR: Biogeosciences, e2022JG007370, 2023.

Ramsey, M.S., Corradino, C., Thompson, J.O., and Leggett, T.N., Statistical retrieval of volcanic activity in long time series orbital data: Implications for forecasting future activity, Remote Sensing of Environment, 295, (113704), 2023.

Befus, K.S., Ruefer, A.C., Allison, C.M., and Thompson, J.O., Quartz-hosted inclusions and embayments reveal storage, fluxing, and ascent of the Mesa Falls Tuff, Yellowstone, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 601 (117909), 2023.

Thompson, J.O., Contreras-Arratiac, R., Befus, K.S., and Ramsey, M.S., Thermal and seismic precursors to the explosive eruption at La Soufrière Volcano, St. Vincent in April 2021, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 592 (117621), 2022.

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