Offices: SEEC N141A, Benson 246C
Lab: SEEL 376
I am a geomorphologist interested in the evolution of landscapes, with particular emphasis on alpine landscapes.
I focus on processes, including glacial, coastal and fluvial erosion of bedrock. I employ cosmogenic radionuclides to constrain rates and timing in the landscape, field studies to document the specific processes acting, and numerical modeling to knit it all together.
- PhD: University of Washington, 1986
- MS: Stanford, 1977
- BS: Williams College, 1974
- Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado, 2015
- Hazel Barnes Prize, CU-Boulder, 2014
- Fellow, AGU, 2006
- Gladys Cole Award, GSA, 1995
- Presidential Young Investigator Award, NSF, 1991
Mechanics and timing of landscape evolution: modeling of landform evolution; glaciology; Arctic and alpine landscape evolution; coastal evolution.
My research focuses on the processes operating at the Earth's surface and the landforms that result. Although I am interested in the entire spectrum of earth-surface processes, my most recent work focuses on the roles of glaciers in modifying large scale landscapes, and on the evolution of hillslopes that acknowledges the roles of climate and of rock type.
In most cases, the research projects involve both field (mapping and instrumentation) and computer modeling exercises. The present power of computing, the sophistication and miniaturization of modern field instrumentation, the increase in the availability of digital topography and of detailed paleoclimate records makes such efforts more likely to succeed now than in any time in the past. In addition, I use cosmogenic radionuclides to document the rates of landscape evolution over long time scales.
CU graduate student Mauren Berlin has launched her PhD research on the Roan Plateau of western Colorado, into which many tens of waterfalls have bitten. These were presumably cast off from the Colorado River in a pulse of late Cenozoic incision. The site is wonderful for this sort of natural experiment, as all these knickpoints exist in the same Eocene stratigraphy, and the small scale of the landscape assures that the climate is uniform. In this study we focus on not only the positions of these many knickpoints, but on the processes of waterfall retreat and subsequent cliff recession in the valleys, and the presumably very much lower rate of landscape lowering on the top of the Roan Plateau itself. In the adjacent Book Cliffs in the Cretaceous sandstones, Dylan Ward is modeling the pattern of erosion incited by incision of small streams, and is documenting the rate of cliff recession using cosmogenic radionuclides.
In the late 1990s, Anderson and his graduate students, in particular Kelly MacGregor and Catherine Riihimaki (with significant help from others), began to explore the evolution of higher mountain masses in the face of glaciation. Working on the small Bench glacier near Valdez, Alaska, they documented the meteorological forcing of the glacier, the glaciological response, and the sediment output as a means of constraining the erosion occurring at the bed of the glacier. The target here is understanding of the evolution of the long valley profile in the face of glaciation, which includes the generation of cirques, hanging valleys and fjords. The field work and in particular the detailed evolution of the glacier surface speed field over the summer season, has pointed toward the need to understand the glacial plumbing system and its summer evolution. We demonstrated the great utility of GPS monuments on the glacier itself in documenting the sliding hisotry over a melt season.
This project included modeling the evolution of glacial valley longitudinal profiles. Using a 1D numerical model, we showed that the flattening of glacial valleys is expected, and that the hanging of tributary valleys and the steps in trunk valley floors are straight-forward consequences of tributary systems. This modeling work has now moved into 2D glacial models, in which we simulate the evolution of glaciers on real landscapes (e.g., Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Uintas, Colorado Front Range, San Juans, Colorado [see ...instaar/rmnp page for examples]). The target here is several-fold. First, we wish to determine the climate scenario that allows a best match of the glacial footprint to the existing LGM moraine and trimline data. Second, once we have assured ourselves that the model works well, we will drive glacial histories with ELA histories, and allow the landscape to evolve in the fac e of subglacial erosion. The erosional output from the glacial will be fed to a fluvial model to allow proper coupling of glacial and fluvial systems. This effort has been augmented by analytic work on glacial erosion in which we explain the essential features of glacial long valley profiles using simplifying assumptions of quasi-steady glacial conditions and eroison proportional to ice discharge.
recent work: With CU graduate student Dylan Ward, I am attempting to determine the roles of glaciers in setting the very high relief in the Alaska range and other very high mountain masses of the world. Zack Guido is documenting the ages of moraines and adjacent river terraces in the Animas outlet glacier form the ice cap that occupied the centrak San Juans in the LGM. He is also exploring the degree to which the glacially polished bedrock of the glacial valley itself has been eroded during the last glacial cycle, using the degree to which cosmogenic radionuclides were reset.
I intend to continue work in these areas, in all cases focusing on the application of knowledge of these physical systems to an understanding of both the resultant landforms and the geological record.
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- GEOG 5700: Geomorphology Seminar
- GEOL 5700: Advanced Geomorphology
- GEOL 5700: Modeling Landscapes
- GEOL 5100: Geomechanics
- GEOL/GEOG 4241: Geomorphology
- GEOL 3950: Natural Catastrophes and Geological Hazards
- GEOL 2001: Planet Earth
Former postdocs and students
- William Armstrong, Research Assistant
- Jill Marshall, postdoc 2015-2017
- Assistant Professor at University of Arkansas
- Eric Winchell, PhD 2017
- Melissa Foster, PhD 2016
- Katy Barnhart, PhD 2015 in Geological Sciences
- Leif Anderson, PhD 2014 in Geological Sciences
- Andy Wickert, PhD 2014
- Miriam Dühnforth, postdoc 2007-2011
- Assistant Professor in Geology and Tectonics, LMU Munich
- Dylan Ward, PhD 2010
- Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati
- Maureen Mason Berlin, PhD 2009
- Nora Matell, MS 2009
- Tim Bartholomaus, MS 2007
- Assistant Professor, University of Idaho 2016
- Zack Guido, MS 2006
- University of Arizona Research Scientist, Joint University of Arizona & Columbia University International Research and Application Program (IRAP)
- Mark Kessler, postdoc 2003-2005
Talks and guest lectures
"The glacier - rock glacier continuum", CSU Geology departmental seminar, November 2018
"Alpine ice on Earth: Glaicers and their rocky cousins", CU Astronomy departmental seminar, November 27, 2017
"From pure ice to rock-covered ice: the glacier-rock glacier continuum", UWashington Department of Geosciences colloquium, November 2, 2017
"Hillslopes", UWashington Department of Geosciences colloquium, November 3, 2017
"Hills and their evolution: involving parabolas, exponentials, and hyperbolas", Applied Math, CU Boulder, April 14, 2017
"Hillslopes of Colorado’s Front Range: From frost to trees to gophers to boulders", Potsdam, Germany, January 10, 2017
"Mountains Glaciers and Gold", Breckenridge, November 16, 2016
"Mountains Glaciers and Gold", Fairplay, November 15, 2016
"Evolution of the Colorado Front Range and the relevance of the 2013 storm", Phi Beta Kappa of Colorado, November 12, 2016
"From pure ice to rock-covered ice: the glacier-rock glacier continuum", Crowell Lecture Series, UC Santa Barbara Department of Geosciences, November 2, 2017
"Climate change in our backyard series: Glaciers and rock glaciers in Colorado’s mountains", Fiske planetarium, November 18, 2016
"Dirty Glaciers", INSTAAR, CU Boulder, February 3, 2015
"Edges and Blocks Matter on Hillslopes, Rivers, and Glacial Landscapes", INSTAAR, CU Boulder, December 2014
"Glacial modification of landscapes: from far-flung moraines to roche moutonnee", University of Iowa, October 23, 2012
"Glaciers and the landscapes they modify: Lessons from the Kennicott Glacier, Alaska" Wrangell Mountain Center talk series, McCarthy, Alaska, June 2012
"Glaciers and glacial landscapes: from natural to numerical experiments", U. Texas Austin February 2012
"Edges matter: erosion of landscapes by migration of edges", INSTAAR, CU Boulder, April 2012
"Of ice-water interactions in Arctic and alpine landscapes: Rapid Arctic coastline erosion and the sliding of glaciers", Caltech January 2011
"Dominance of thermal processes and their likely acceleration along Alaska's Beaufort Sea coast", National Park Service webinar July 20, 2011
Kennicott seminar series, Wrangell Mountains and St Elias National Park, "Glaciers and glacial landscapes", June 2010
National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) February 2009, University of Montana September 2009, Five College Lecture series, Amherst, October 2009
Yosemite Fund, March 2008; Yale, October 2008
INSTAAR, February 2007; Workshop on Climate and Geomorphology, NCAR October 2007
University of New Mexico, 10 February 2006; Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, July 2006; INQUA conference on mountain glaciers, September 2006; Garry Clarke conference, UBC, December 2006
University of Memphis , March 2005; UC Davis, April 2005; EGU, April 2005; India Geological Society, May 2005; CU INSTAAR Mountain Research Station, June 2005; CU Geology, September 2005; Rocky Mountain National Park, September 2005; NSF Earth Science Day, September 2005; University of Michigan, November 2005
Colorado School of Mines, April 2004; Colorado State University, April 2004; Yosemite National Park, June 2004
Stanford, January 2003, Penrose conference Taiwan January 2003, University of Colorado January 2003, Purdue February 2003, UC Santa Barbara February 2003
University of Wyoming January 2002, University of Colorado January 2002, Colorado College April 2002, University of Nebraska Lincoln September 2002, 'Year of the Mountain symposium', University of Colorado November 2002, Gilbert Club December 2002
USGS Marine Geology February 2001, University of Arizona February 2001, Duke November 2001, MIT November 2001, INSTAAR December 2001
UC Santa Barbara February 2000; Caltech February 2000
William and Mary March 1999; Arizona State April 1999
UC Davis January 1998; University of Alaska Fairbanks June 1998; University of Oregon October 1998
Scripps. January 1997; USC. January 1997; Harvard. March 1997
Stanford. May 1996; UC Riverside. April 1996; Penn State. April 1996; U. Washington. May 1996
University of Wyoming. February 1995; University of California Santa Barbara. March 1995; Franklin and Marshall College. October 1995; Penn State. October 1995; Lehigh University. October 1995
Caltech. February 1994; Stanford. March 1994; UC Berkeley. March 1994; MIT. March 1994; Oregon State. April 1994
San Jose State. January 1992; University of Southern California. November 1992
Williams College. (3 talks) Geology, Environmental Studies. February 1991; Duke University. Geology. February 1991; University of Wyoming. November 1991; University of Texas, Austin. November 1991
UC Berkeley. April 1990; UC Santa Barbara. January 1990
Bowdoin College. January 1988; UC Santa Cruz. February 1988
UCLA. October 1987; Johns Hopkins. April 1987