Research

Climate and landscape evolution: The availability of tools for quantifying rates of erosion associated with past environments enables us to test long-held notions about how climate modulates landscape evolution.  In particular, the impact of glacial-interglacial fluctuations in unglaciated settings has been the topic of many hypotheses that have rarely been tested.  In her PhD work, Jill Marshall explored paleoclimate and paleo-erosion in western Oregon by invoking a frost-driven process model to show that climate fluctuations have significant impact in unglaciated settings (Marshall et al., 2015).

Experimental landscape evolution: The means by which hillslope and channel-forming processes conspire to set the scale and structure of landscapes has been well-studied using numerical models.  Only recently have these processes been combined in a physical system.  Experimental results by former UO PhD student Kristin Sweeney demonstrate that the relative importance of channel processes that tend to cut valleys and hillslope processes that tend to smooth terrain and fill in depressions can be used to predict drainage density and ridge-valley spacing, which are fundamental properties of any landscape (Sweeney et al., 2015).  These results confirm theoretical work and provide a road map for determining how climate is encoded in landscape morphology.

Landsliding and landscape evolution: The role of landslides in shaping topography and regulating fluxes to sediment dispersal systems requires an integrated approach that spans vast spatial and temporal scales.  On short (hourly to seasonal) timescales, landslides respond to rainfall and earthquakes in a complex fashion; sometimes landslides exhibit slow-moving behavior and in other cases, catastrophic deformation ensues (see papers by A. Handwerger).  On intermediate timescales (decades to millennia), landslide activity varies with climate-driven baselevel changes as well as land use practices (see papers by C. Cerovski-Darriau and B. Mackey).  On million-year timescales, river networks communicate changes in tectonic forcing through landscapes and where incision is sufficiently high landsliding can result (see manuscript by G. Bennett).

In addition, here are research highlights from recent AGU meetings:

Recent publications