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Cari Johnson

Cari Johnson

Professional Preparation

Stanford University, Ph.D., Geological and Environmental Sciences, 2002

Dissertation: “Sedimentary record of late Mesozoic extension, southeast

Mongolia: implications for the petroleum potential and tectonic evolution of the China-Mongolia border region.”

Carleton College, B.A., Geology, 1992

Professional Appointments

Associate Professor, Geology & Geophysics Dept., University of Utah. 2009-present

Assistant Professor, Geology & Geophysics Dept., University of Utah. 2003-2009

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Stanford University and U.S.G.S. 2002-2003

Petroleum Industry Experience

Exploration Geologist, Chevron: Stratigraphic Services (Summer, 1999).

Exploration Geologist, Texaco: New Ventures Group (Winter, 1999)

Research Interests

Sedimentation and Tectonics, Basin Analysis, and Petroleum Geology

Areas of recent research

  • Tertiary lake systems of western North America
  • Improved petroleum reservoir prediction using Lidar and outcrop analogs
  • Fluvial-deltaic depositional systems analysis, central Utah
  • Sequence stratigraphy and controls on sedimentation, Kaiparowits plateau, Utah
  • Cenozoic sequence stratigraphy, San Joaquin basin, California
  • Mesozoic-Cenozoic slip history of the East Gobi fault zone, southern Mongolia
  • Geochemistry and sequence stratigraphy of the Maikop series, Azerbaijan
  • Effective strategies for using emerging visualization technologies in geoscience research and teaching

Awards and Honors

  • ConocoPhillips Faculty Sponsorship Award, 2010
  • University of Utah Early Career Teaching Award, 2010
  • Department of Geology and Geophysics Teaching Award, 2009
  • College of Mines and Earth Sciences Teaching Award, 2007
  • Eight invited presentations, 2004-present

Current and Recent Funding

Controls on marginal marine and nonmarine stratigraphic architecture: New constraints from the Cretaceous Straight Cliffs Formation, Utah. American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund, 2008-2010

Creating and assessing effective uses of interactive digital outcrop models in undergraduate geoscience education. NSF-Division of Undergraduate Education, CCLI program (Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvements), 2008-2010.

Facies architecture and reservoir potential in a marine-nonmarine transition zone, John Henry Member of the Cretaceous Straight Cliffs Formation, Utah, Straight Cliffs Consortium, 2007-present.

Collaborative Research: Strike-slip history of the East Gobi Fault Zone, Mongolia: Modes of intraplate deformation, sedimentary basin evolution, and regional fault linkages, NSF-Tectonics division, 2006-2010.

Regional Correlation of the Maikop Series in Azerbaijan: Sequence Stratigraphy and Petroleum Potential, M. Efendiyeva (Geological Institute of Azerbaijan), co-PI. CRDF (Civilian's Research and Defense Fund), 2007-2009.

Research funds donation in support of Maikop series geochemical investigations. BP, 2006-2009.

Selected Publications

Johnson, C.L., and Ritts, B.D., in press, Plate Interior Polyphase Basins, (book chapter) in Busby, C., and Azor, A., Recent Advances in Tectonics of Sedimentary Basins, Blackwell Science.

Webb, L.E., Johnson, C.L., and Minjin, Ch., in press, Late Triassic sinistral shear in the East Gobi Fault Zone, Mongolia, Tectonophysics.

Allen, J.L,. and Johnson, C., 2010, Facies control on sandstone composition (and influence of statistical methods on interpretations) in the John Henry Member, Straight Cliffs Formation, Southern Utah, USA: Sedimentary Geology, v. 230, p. 60-76.

Johnson, C.L., Hudson, S.H., Rowe, H.D., Efendiyeva, M.A., 2010, Geochemical constraints on the Paleocene-Miocene evolution of eastern Azerbaijan, with implications for the South Caspian basin and eastern Paratethys, Basin Research, v. 22, p. 733-750, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2117.2009.00427.x.

Ritts, B.D., Berry, A.K., Johnson, C.L., Darby, B.J., and Davis, G., 2010, Early Cretaceous supradetachment basins in the Hohhot metamorphic core complex, Inner Mongolia, China, Basin Research, v. 22, p. 45-60.

Hudson, S.H., Johnson, C.L., Efendiyeva, M.A., Rowe, H.D., Feyzullayev, A.A., and Aliyev, C.S., 2008, Stratigraphy and geochemical characterization of the Oligocene-Miocene Maikop series: Implications for the paleogeography of Eastern Azerbaijan, in Sorkhabi, R., ed., Out of Tethys: New Geologic Studies on the Making of Asia, Tectonophysics, v. 451, p. 40-55, doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2007.11.045.

Johnson, C.L., Amory, J.A., Graham, S.A., Lamb, M.A., G. Badarch, and Affolter, M., 2008, Accretionary tectonics and sedimentation during late Paleozoic arc collision, China-Mongolia border region, in A. Draut, P. Clift, and D. Scholl, eds., Formation and applications of the sedimentary record in arc collision zones, Geological Society of America Special Paper 436, p. 363-390.

Johnson, C.L., and Graham S.A., 2004, Cycles in perilacustrine facies in Late Mesozoic rift basins, southeastern Mongolia, Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 74, n. 6, p. 770-785.

Johnson, C.L., and Graham, S.A., 2004, Sedimentology and reservoir architecture of a synrift lacustrine delta, southeastern Mongolia, Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 74, n. 6, p. 786-804.

Johnson, C.L., 2004, Mesozoic-Cenozoic evolution of the East Gobi basin: Integration of outcrop and subsurface data, Basin Research, v. 16, n. 1, p. 79-100.

Johnson, C.L., Greene, T.J., Zinniker, D.A., Moldowan, J.M., Hendrix, M.S., and Carroll, A.R., 2003, Geochemical characteristics and correlation of oil and nonmarine source rocks from Mongolia, American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 87, n. 5, p. 817-846.

Johnson, C.L., Webb, L., Graham, S., Hendrix, M., and G. Badarch, 2001, Sedimentary and structural records of late Mesozoic high-strain extension and strain partitioning, East Gobi basin, southern Mongolia, Geological Society of America Memoir 194, p. 413-433.

Graham, S.A., Hendrix, M.S., Johnson, C.L., D. Badamgarav, G. Badarch, Amory, J., Porter, M., R. Barsbold, Webb, L.E., and Hacker, B., 2001, Sedimentary record and tectonic implications of Mesozoic rifting in southeast Mongolia, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 113, p. 1560-1579.

Webb, L., Graham, S., Johnson, C.L., Hendrix, M., and Badarch, G., 1998, Occurrence, age, and implications of the Yagan-Onch Hayrhan metamorphic core complex, southern Mongolia, Geology, v. 27, p. 143-146.


  • Architecture of the Earth/Exploring Earth (GEO 1010)
  • Earthquakes and Volcanoes (GEO 1030)
  • Petroleum Industry Career Path Module 2 — Petroleum Basins (GEO 5520/6520)
  • Basin Analysis (GEO 5920/6920)
  • Seismic and Sequence Stratigraphy (GEO 5920/6920)
  • Multiple graduate seminars in sedimentology and basin analysis


Eight graduates, 5 M.S., 3 Ph.D. (2003-present). Currently serving as primary advisor for 6 graduate students, all M.S. level.

Service and Activities

  • Session Co-chair, Intraplate Deformation and Sedimentary Basins: A Record of Plate Margin Processes?, AGU Fall meeting (December 2009)
  • Associate Department Chair (2009-present)
  • Co-chair, Hydrocarbon Faculty Search Committee (2008-2009)
  • Co-editor, Utah Geological Association Guidebook for south-central Utah (2009-present) Editorial Board, Geology (2007-2010)
  • Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, University of Utah (2007-present).
  • Presidential Childcare Taskforce (2008-present)
  • Faculty Moms Group: founder of this support, mentoring, and advocacy group for faculty moms at the University of Utah (2007-present)
  • Petroleum Industry Career Path, Faculty Committee (2003-present)
  • NSF Panel: PIRE (Partnerships in International Research and Education, January 2007)
  • AAPG Student Chapter, Faculty Advisor (2003-present). Annual Austin Weeks awards 2004-present. Outstanding AAPG Student Chapter award (2008)

Professional Affiliations

American Association of Petroleum Geologists, American Geophysical Union, Association of Women Geoscientists, Geological Society of America, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM), Utah Geological Association.

Last Updated: 5/10/24