Surface Processes & Geomorphology

Embracing complexity in a changing world.

Surface Processes & Geomorphology

Embracing complexity in a changing world.

Surface Processes & Geomorphology

Embracing complexity in a changing world.

Surface Processes & Geomorphology

Embracing complexity in a changing world.

our research focuses on better understanding and characterizing the processes that govern complex Earth surface systems, particularly in ways that are relevant to hazards and human impacts.

we balance applied and basic science by addressing socially and ecologically relevant issues while advancing fundamental knowledge of the physical processes that shape the surface of our planet.

Collaborating across disciplines allows us to employ cutting-edge tools and innovative methods for geomorphic analysis in the modern era of data and technological resources.

We are committed to advancing accessibility, diversity and equity in STEM through inclusive mentorship, advocacy and outreach to underserved communities.

Lab News

November, 2021  – What a week—SPG graduate student Caroline Bedwell also passed her defense!! Caroline’s thesis was titled, “Soil Burn Severity And Climatic Analysis Of Post-Wildfire Soil Hydraulic Properties From Across The Western Continental United States” and involved reanalysis of over 1400 datasets from 24 fires over 5 states.


November, 2021  –  Woohoo, our first SPG graduate student has officially passed her defense!! Congratulations to Claire Vavrus, M.S. on her dissertation: “An investigation of rill initiation mechanisms using high resolution topography following the 2017 Thomas Fire, CA!”


July, 2021  –  Big congratulations to Mel Zhang for winning a Mines Pakiser Fellowship!!


June, 2021  –  Exciting news–our NSF proposal (submitted in collaboration with Dr. Margaret Zimmer at UCSC) has just been recommended for funding! Collaborative Research: Characterizing controls on postfire steepland ravel – when does bioturbation go too far for diffusive models? (Award 2123220) — see our award abstract here for more info! We’ll be starting field work on this project with a field campaign next month.


May, 2021  –  Congratulations to Caroline Bedwell for receiving the Geology & Geological Engineering Department’s outstanding TA award!


January, 2021  –  Happy New Years, and welcome to new PhD student Mel Zhang! Mel’s project will focus on the seismic signals of physical weathering by wind and trees.


August, 2020  –  Welcome to PhD student Hayden Jacobson! Hayden will be working on post-wildfire sediment transport and hazards.


July, 2020  –  Our new Mines Employee Relief Fund is finally up and receiving applications.

Donate here to help Mines employees who may be struggling with critical expenses.

You can also support students through donating to the Student Emergency Fund


June, 2020  –  Welcome new undergraduate intern Alex Coronado!


May, 2020  –  Caroline Bedwell won a GSA Graduate Student Research Grant to study post-wildfire soil hydrology!


January, 2020  –  Claire Vavrus was just awarded a CUAHSI Pathfinder Fellowship for her proposal to study the impact of roads on hillslope erosion via rilling and gullying in post-wildfire landscapes!


December, 2019  –  At AGU this week, Caroline Bedwell presented her work in a poster on post-fire debris flow factors across climates, and Danica gave a talk about throwing rocks down hills. In other news, in only its 3rd year running, our Environmental Seismology session was one of the largest in Seismology this year!


August, 2019  –  Welcome new Mines Undergraduate Research Fellow Thomas Busath!


June, 2019  –  We have a gamma spectroscopy lab!

It’s not fully up and running yet, but it’s no longer indefinitely delayed or in imminent danger of thermal damage. What a saga!


June, 2019 – Welcome to new (and first!) MS students Caroline Bedwell and Claire Vavrus!