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As geoscientists, our research spans immense temporal and spatial scales and we are increasingly reaching across a spectrum of scientific disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics) to find answers to applied and fundamental questions in the Earth Sciences. Our faculty utilizes a variety of tools in pursuit of these questions, extending from field-oriented projects to laboratory experimentation and numerical methods.
Our department is organized into three broadly defined research umbrellas: Geological Sciences, Geophysics, and Surficial Processes; the descriptions of these groups provide a good overview of our department. Individual faculty‑or smaller groups of faculty‑engage in focused research activities as described in the Research Focus Groups. Our department is also the home to a number of formal Research Facilities (see menu at left) with a range of functions.

Geological Sciences Group

The Geological Sciences Group seeks to understand the processes of planetary evolution through the application of petrologic, structural, geochemical, stratigraphic and paleontological methods to the geological record. Our current research and graduate program strengths include volcanology and igneous petrology, orogenic systems science, high-precision U-Pb geochronology, and chronostratigraphy.

  • Brittany Brand – Volcanic Sedimentology
  • Dorsey Wanless – Igneous Petrology
  • C. J. Northrup – Structural Geology & Tectonics
  • Mark Schmitz – Isotope Geochemistry & Geochronology
  • Matthew Kohn – Geochemistry and Metamorphic Petrology

  • Jennifer Pierce – Geomorphology
  • Vladimir I. Davydov – Stratigraphy & Paleontology
  • Virginia S. Gillerman – Idaho Geological Survey
  • Craig White (emeritus) – Igneous Petrology
  • Walter S. Snyder (emeritus) – Stratigraphy & Sedimentology

Geophysics Group

The Geophysics Group applies high-resolution geophysical methods to better understand the geologic processes of the near surface. We have developed a strong research interest in hydrogeophysics, geophysical inversion, physical properties of soil, earthquake hazard studies, and paleoclimate studies. Our students work on geophysical applications to problems of water flow in the shallow subsurface using electrical, electromagnetic, and seismic techniques, or using seismic methods to determine the sediment distribution in ocean basins.

  • Paul Michaels – Geophysics
  • John Bradford – Geophysics
  • Lee Liberty – Geophysics
  • J. R. Pelton – Geophysics
  • Paul R Donaldson – Geophysics

  • Jeffrey Johnson – Geophysics
  • Matt Haney – Seismology & Volcanic Monitoring
  • Hans-Peter Marshall – Snow & Ice Geophysics
  • Warren Barrash – Hydrogeology

Surficial Processes Group

The Surficial Processes Group is primarily focused on questions related to modern earth processes. Our graduate program has a strong emphasis in the broadly defined field of Hydrologic Sciences and our faculty are engaged in research that extends from geomorphology and sediment transport to surface and groundwater flow and quality and modern climate change.

  • Jim McNamara – Hydrology & Surficial Processes
  • Warren Barrash – Hydrogeology
  • Jennifer Pierce – Geomorphology
  • David Wilkins – Geomorphology & Dendrochronology

  • Shawn Benner – Aqueous Geochemistry
  • Alejandro Flores – Ecohydrology & Hydrological Modeling
  • Nancy Glenn – Remote Sensing & Geological Engineering