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Department of Geological Sciences

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Marine and Coastal Geology

Image Source: NASA

Image Source: NASA

  • Peter Adams is a process geomorphologist who studies coastal evolution through real-time instrumentation and numerical modeling. His ongoing research along the tectonically-active coasts of California and south central Alaska focuses on documenting rates and magnitude of geomorphic processes, and the resulting effect on the coastal landscape. Recent studies include: (1) relating nearshore waves to sea cliff “flexing”, (2) Argus camera analysis of intertidal sand wave migration, and (3) SWAN modeling of wave energy flux driving coastal evolution in southern California. He is also interested in developing projects to study the geomorphology of Florida’s Atlantic coast. (email:
  • John Jaeger‘s research includes numerous marine and coastal geology studies that seek to understand how physical, chemical, and biologic processes that are active during the deposition and accumulation of sediment influence the character of the resulting strata. To accomplish this task, he utilizes sedimentological (x-radiography, image analysis, thin-section microscopy, SEM/EDS, cathodoluminescence microscopy, powder x-ray diffraction, and grain-size analysis) and radioisotopic techniques (e.g. 7Be, 210Pb, 137Cs, and 14C geochronology) to quantify the rates of sedimentary processes, diagenetic transformations, and biologic modification of deposits. The types of field studies include paleohurricane studies in Florida that attempt to understand how tropical cyclone deposits are preserved into the geologic record. Additionally, estuarine sedimentary processes are explored to understand how marine, terrestrial, and human impacts control sedimentation in estuaries. Sediment dispersal and accumulation on continental margins are evaluated to understand how strata are formed in these environments. (email:
  • Ellen Martin helped develop and applies Sr isotopes as a chemostratigraphic tool to date and correlate marine sediments. She also uses Sr isotopic ratios and concentrations in pore fluids and associated solids to understand diagenesis, dolomitization and fluid flow in a range of marine environments including carbonate platforms and the deep sea. (email:
  • Jon Martin‘s research program in coastal geology focuses on submarine discharge of ground water to estuarine and near-shore marine waters. The research program is field-based and uses temporal and spatial variations in pore water chemistry to measure flow rates of the discharging ground water, as well as mechanisms driving flow of the water. In conjunction with the pore water solutes, he uses concentrations of naturally occurring chemical tracers in the surface water to determine the fluxes of water and nutrients to the surface waters. Jon Martin also studies the discharge of water from deep-sea sediments that accumulate along active margins. His work attempts to identify sources for the discharging water through observations of their chemical and isotopic compositions. He also uses the isotopic compositions of biogenic and authigenic carbonate minerals that form at the points of discharge to determine the time scale for discharge. (email:
  • Mike Perfit spends much of his time deep beneath the surface of the ocean investigating deep-sea volcanoes and the spreading of the Earth’s tectonic plates. He specializes in the igneous geology and volcanology of ridge crests and seamounts. He uses that and his training in geochemistry and marine geology to study the Earth’s last great frontier; the abyssal depths of the ocean. He has participated in over 20 major oceanographic cruises to places as distant as Papua New Guinea and has had over 30 dives in the manned submersible ALVIN to depths greater than 12,000 feet. During the last decade, he and his colleagues have documented the first recorded volcanic eruptions at mid-ocean ridges using ALVIN and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). He focuses on interdisciplinary aspects of marine geology to help address some of the fundamental problems such as the development of hydrothermal vent communities at abyssal depths and the quantification of the elemental and thermal fluxes to the oceans that result from submarine volcanism. (email:
  • Liz Screaton studies fluid flow processes at subduction zones, including the evolution of pore pressures during sediment subduction and accretion, the effect of fluid flow on chemical and thermal transport, and the impact of seismicity on fluid flow patterns. She uses numerical modeling and laboratory and borehole permeability measurements. (email:
  • Andrew Zimmerman studies carbon cycling and organic matter preservation in soils and marine waters and sediments, as well as the relationship between microbes, minerals and organic matter in these systems. He also uses organic biochemical to reconstruct the ancient and recent record of environmental change found in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem. (email:




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