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

David King
Professor and Director of Concepts of Science

Research Areas: Dr. King’s current research interest is the effect of asteroid and comet impact upon Earth history and the stratigraphic record.

Office: 2058 Beard Eaves Coliseum

2050 Beard Eaves Coliseum
Auburn, AL 36849

Phone: (334) 844-4882
Fax: (334) 844-4486


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 2015 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 teaches introductory-level Physical Geology, 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.  He is a former instructor in the Human Odyssey Program (1997-1999), and since 2003 he has taught annually in Auburn's Concepts of Science Program. 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 is an academic advisor for undergraduate students and directs graduate-student research in his specialty areas. Since 2010, he is the 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 and energy resources on Earth, including petroleum and energy exploration. His current research projects include studies of (1) Wetumpka impact crater in Elmore County, Alabama; (2) Cretaceous-Tertiary impact-boundary stratigraphy in the Gulf Coastal plain and in Belize; (3) other impact structures, including Chesapeake Bay crater in Virginia and Flynn Creek crater in Tennessee, and (4) stratigraphy and petroleum geology 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.  He maintains an interest in basic 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) buildups and reefs in the North American mid-continent and globally, Late Cretaceous dinosaur biogeography, lunar regolith grain sizes, chert petrology and metamorphism, and the petrography and diagenesis of limestone, chalk, and marl. He has worked as a concession geologist for petroleum exploration in Belize. 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, which belongs to Auburn University. He is the author of a book on this subject titled Alabama Dinosaurs. Since 1980, Dr. King has supervised about 30 geology graduate-student (MS) thesis projects. He is the author of over 100 scientific papers, over 250 scientific abstracts, and more than 50 other papers and monographs related to pedagogy and public understanding of science. With Hal Levin, he is the co-author of The Earth Through Time, 11th edition, a widely used historical geology textbook.  Dr. King's research (2009-2012) was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other sources.  In the recent 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 earlier 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. In 2007, Dr. King and Dr. Jens Ormö (CAB-Spain) hosted a GSA-sponsored international Field Forum at Wetumpka, which brought in 40 scientists from 9 countries. For learn more about the activites of this conference, go to this link -

Selected Publications

  1. King, D. T., Jr., Morrow, J.R., Petruny, L.W., and Ormö, J., 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. King, D.T., Jr. and J. Ormö, 2011, Wetumpka – a marine target impact structure examined in the field: in Garry, W.B., and Bleacher J.B., eds., Analogues for planetary exploration:Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America, Special Paper 483, p. 287-300.
  5. Ferrell, R., D.T. King, Jr., and L.W. Petruny, 2011, Nontronitic clay pseudomorphs of Cretaceous-Paleogene (KT) microtektites, Shell Creek, Alabama, U.S.A.: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v.81, p. 348-354.

Last updated: 10/23/2019