COSAM » COSAM Faculty » Geosciences » David T. King, Jr.

David King
Professor of Geology

Research Areas: Dr. King’s main area of basic academic research is the effect of asteroid and comet impact upon Earth history and the stratigraphic record. He also engages in applied research in the areas of petroleum exploration, carbon sequestration, and subsurface waste disposal.

Office: 2058 Beard Eaves Coliseum

2050 Beard Eaves Coliseum
Auburn, AL 36849

Phone: (334) 844-4882
Fax: (334) 844-4295


Ph.D., Geology, University of Missouri-Columbia
M.S., Geology, University of Houston
B.S., Geology, University of Louisiana-Monroe

Professional Employment

Professor, Auburn University
1998 - Present
Associate Professor, Auburn University
1986 - 1998
Assistant Professor, Auburn University
1980 - 1986

Honors and Awards

Dr. King received the 2014 Distinguished Service Award, Gulf Coast Section, Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) for his service to the profession and the Gulf Coast Section.
Dr. King received a 2012 Dean's Faculty Outreach Award for his work with the city of Wetumpka, Alabama, on public understanding of the Wetumpka impact crater.
Dr. King received a 2004 Grover C. Murray Award for an outstanding paper in the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions.
Dr. King has been honored as the outstanding science/math faculty member in the former School of Arts and Sciences (1985) and as an Auburn Alumni Association outstanding teacher (1989)

Research and Teaching Interests

At the undergraduate level, Dr. King regularly teaches introductory-level physical and historical geology classes, junior-level Lunar and Planetary Geology, and senior-level Stratigraphy.  He is one of several faculty members who offer team-taught graduate courses in sedimentary geology and stratigraphy, including Facies Analysis and Sequence Stratigraphy.  Dr. King also teaches various directed studies classes, including Impact Geology, and a graduate class in Impact and Planetary Geology.  He is a former instructor in the Human Odyssey Program (1997-1999), the Concepts of Science program, and the Sustainability program (2017-2018). From 1980 to 2000, he taught many sections of Introductory Geology (I and II), Historical Geology, Engineering Geology, Advanced Stratigraphy, and other courses under the now-ended quarter system. In addition to teaching, he was an academic advisor for undergraduate students (1980-2018) and directs graduate-student research in his specialty areas. He has supervised over three dozen Master of Science students and has co-supervised doctoral students at Auburn. From 2010 to 2016, he was Director for the Concepts of Science program at Auburn.  Dr. King's current academic (basic) research interests are related to the effect of asteroid and comet impact upon Earth history and the stratigraphic record and his applied research interests relate to sedimentary geology (particularly petroleum exploration, carbon sequestration, and subsurface waste disposal). His current research projects include studies of (1) Wetumpka impact crater in Elmore County, Alabama; (2) Cretaceous-Tertiary impact-boundary stratigraphy in the U.S. Gulf Coastal plain and in Belize, Central America; (3) other impact structures, including Chesapeake Bay crater in Virginia and Flynn Creek crater in Tennessee, and (4) stratigraphy and petroleum geology of the northern and southern basins of Belize, Central America. From 1980-1995, most of his work focused on facies analysis, sequence stratigraphy, sea-level dynamics, and clastic aquifer properties of eastern Alabama’s Upper Cretaceous stratigraphic section.  And, he maintains an interest in fundamental stratigraphic research, particularly in the Gulf Coastal plain and in Belize. In the past, Dr. King has studied Jurassic Smackover Limestone of south Alabama hydrocarbon basins, Waulsortian (Early Mississippian) reef-like buildups in the North American mid-continent and globally, Late Cretaceous dinosaur stratigraphy and biogeography, lunar regolith grain sizes, chert petrology and metamorphism, and the petrography and diagenesis of limestone, chalk, and marl. Dr. King’s research confirmed Wetumpka impact crater as the 157th known impact crater on Earth and the 57th known impact crater in North America. He maintains a strong interest in the history of stratigraphy, which he teaches about in his Stratigraphy class. Dr. King is a former Commissioner of the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature (1997-2000). In 1982, while doing field studies in Montgomery County, Alabama, he discovered the most complete eastern North American tyrannosaurid dinosaur, Appalachiosaurus, which belongs to Auburn University. He is the author of a related book titled Alabama Dinosaurs.  He is the author of over 100 scientific papers, over 300 scientific abstracts, and more than 50 other papers and monographs related to pedagogy and public understanding of science. With the late Hal Levin, he is the co-author of The Earth Through Time, 11th edition (2016), a widely used historical geology textbook.  Dr. King's recent research has been funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an internal AU IGP grant in aid, and corporate sources.  In the past, his research has been funded by the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, the ICDP/USGS (Chesapeake Bay crater), a Dean’s Research Initiative (Wetumpka impact crater), the National Geographic Society (clastic aquifers), Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (Smackover Limestone), and Vulcan Materials Company (Wetumpka impact crater). In addition, his early career research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Chevron USA, Atlantic-Richfield, American Chemical Society, U.S. CRDF,  USDA/CSRS/Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, the Council on Undergraduate Research, USGS/Water Resources Research Institute, General Crude Oil Minerals, Inc., and internal Auburn University Grants-in-Aid. Dr. King was appointed by Gov. Riley as a member of the Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Geologists (2005-2014). As an ABLPG member, he represented the academic community in Alabama on the Board and addressed Board issues related to the continuing education requirements for license renewal in Alabama. He is presently a licensed professional geologist in the states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.

Selected Publications

  1. Adrian, D.R., D.T. King, Jr., and J. Ormö, 2019, Resurge gullies and “inverted sombrero” morphology, Flynn Creek impact structure, Tennessee: Meteoritics and Planetary Science, v. 54, p. 2758-2768.
  2. De Marchi, L., J. Ormö, and D.T. King, Jr., D.R. Adrian, J.J. Hagerty, and T.A. Gaither, 2019, Sedimentological analysis of two drill cores through the crater moat-filling breccia, Flynn Creek impact structure, Tennessee: Meteoritics and Planetary Science, v. 54, p. 2864-2878.
  3. King, D. T., Jr., J.R. Morrow, L.W. Petruny, and J. Ormö, 2015, Surficial polymict impact breccia unit, Wetumpka impact structure, Alabama: Shock levels and emplacement mechanism,  in Osinski, G., and Kring, D.A., eds., Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution V: Geological Society of America Special Paper 518, p. 149-164.
  4. Tabares Rodenas, P., J. Ormö, and D.T. King, Jr., 2013, Cosmic wabi sabi: tell-tale geomorphological imperfections in crater shapes revealed by numerical analysis: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 377, p. 211-217.
  5. Wartho, J.-A., M. C. van Soest, D. T. King, Jr., and L. W. Petruny, 2012, An (U-Th)/He age for the shallow-marine Wetumpka impact structure, Alabama, USA: Meteoritics and Planetary Science, v. 47, p. 1243-1255.

Last updated: 01/16/2020