David King
Department of Geosciences
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

Address: 2050 Beard Eaves Coliseum
Auburn, AL 36849

Phone: (334) 844-4882

Lab Phone: (334) 844-4992

Fax: (334) 844-4295

Email: kingdat@auburn.edu

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 was elected as a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.
Dr. King received a Grover C. Murray Award for an outstanding paper in the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions.
Dr. King received an Auburn Authors’ Award for his textbook, The Earth through Time, 11th ed. (Wiley).
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 Dean's Faculty Outreach Award for his work with the city of Wetumpka, Alabama, on public understanding of the Wetumpka impact crater.

Research and Teaching Interests

Since 1980, David King has been a geology faculty member at Auburn University, and he has been a Professor of Geology since 1998.  He is well-known for his work in sedimentology and stratigraphy of the coastal plain regions of the southeastern United States and of the northern and southern basins of Belize in Central America and for his studies of impact craters and the KPg boundary.  He is the author of over 125 scientific papers, over 300 scientific abstracts, and more than 50 other papers and monographs related to teaching, 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, which is published by Wiley and Sons.  He is the author of a second book in historical geology, which is titled Alabama Dinosaurs (4th ed. (2021); Sentia Press). 

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-Paleogene 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 basic research work focused on facies analysis, sequence stratigraphy, sea-level dynamics, and clastic aquifer properties of eastern Alabama’s Upper Cretaceous stratigraphic section. In the past, he has also studied Jurassic Smackover Limestone of south Alabama hydrocarbon basins, Early Carboniferous (Waulsortian) reef-like buildups in the North American mid-continent and globally, Middle and Upper Cambrian clastic-carbonate facies relations in central Texas, Late Cretaceous dinosaur stratigraphy and biogeography of the eastern U.S., lunar regolith grain sizes, chert petrology and metamorphism, and the petrography and diagenesis of limestone, chalk, and marl.

Dr. King's recent research has been funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute, Alabama Power and Southern Nuclear, and the Petroleum Research Fund, as well as internal Auburn University grants in aid and other corporate funding sources.  In the past, his research has been funded by the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, Intercontinental Drilling Program and USGS, a Dean’s Research Initiative, the National Geographic Society, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, and Vulcan Materials Company, and others. In addition, his early career research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Chevron USA, Atlantic-Richfield, American Chemical Society, the United States’ CRDF,  Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, the Council on Undergraduate Research, USGS/Water Resources Research Institute, General Crude Oil Minerals, Inc., and other sources.

Dr. King was appointed by Gov. Riley as a member of the Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Geologists (2005-2014), and by Gov. Ivey to another term (2020-2022). As board member, he represents the academic community in Alabama. He is presently a licensed professional geologist in the states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.  Also of note is that Dr. King is a former Commissioner of the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature (1997-2000) and is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (2022).

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.  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 (2003-2018), 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 numerous undergraduate students (1980-2018) and has directed numerous graduate-student research projects in his specialty areas. In total, he has supervised over three dozen Master of Science students in geology and has co-supervised two doctoral students in Earth systems science at Auburn. From 2010 to 2016, he was Director for the Concepts of Science program at Auburn. 

In 1982, while doing field studies in Montgomery County, Alabama, he discovered the most complete eastern North American tyrannosaurid dinosaur, Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis, which is now the type specimen for its genus and species. The bones of this dinosaur are presently on display at the McWane Center in Birmingham, Alabama.  In 2002, Dr. King’s published research confirmed Wetumpka impact crater in Elmore County, Alabama, as the 157th known impact crater on Earth, and the 57th known impact crater in North America.

Selected Publications

  1. Montalvo, P. M., Christopher, H., Hirabayashi, M., Fassett, C., and King, D. T., Jr 2023, Quantifying the ejecta thickness from large complex craters on (1) Ceres:  Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR-Planets), DOI 10.1029/2022JE007663.
  2. Emran, A., D. T. King Jr., and L. J. Marzen, 2021, Thermophysical and compositional analyses of dunes at Hargraves crater, Mars: Planetary Science Journal, v. 2, no. 218.
  3. Emran, A., L. J. Marzen, and D. T. King Jr., 2020, Semi-automated identification and characterization of dunes at Hargraves crater, Mars: Earth and Space Science, v. 7, Article no. e2019EA000935.
  4. 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.
  5. Adrian, D. R., D. T. King, Jr., S. J. Jaret, J. Ormӧ, L. W. Petruny, J. J. Hagerty, and T. A. Gaither, 2018, Sedimentological and petrographic analysis of drill core FC77-1 from the flank of the central uplift, Flynn Creek impact structure, Tennessee:  Meteoritics and Planetary Science, v. 53, p. 857-873. 

Last updated: 08/25/2023