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Faculty Research Highlights

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December 19, 2018

Digging into the Eagle Crest fire’s aftermath

In the aftermath of the Eagle Crest fire, Josh Roering is investigating the relationship between fire and landslides in the Columbia River Gorge Scenic area.  For the full story, click here:


November 7, 2018

UO scientists uncover a rare Oregon dinosaur fossil

Our own professor Greg Retallack discovered this toe bone in Central Oregon – an unusual find!  Read the Around the O story here.

UO researchers expose the dirty secrets hidden under glaciers

Our own postdoctoral scholar Colin Meyer and professor Alan Rempel delve into the physics relating to glacier movement and friction.  See the Around the O story here.

UO scientist named an American Geophysical Union fellow

Our own Josh Roering is elected a 2018 AGU fellow for his work on landscape evolution and earth surface processes!  See the Around the O story here.

UO professor talks mega-quakes with National Geographic

Collapsed buildings in Mexico after the 2017 Tehuantepec earthquake

Our own Earth Sciences professor Diego Melgar has been featured in an article from National Geographic discussing a recent 8.2 magnitude earthquake in Southern Mexico that broke a 37-mile stretch of tectonic plate.

Slabs of the earth’s crust known as tectonic plates collide with one another on the surface, forming mountains and other topographic features. This tectonic movement is one of many things responsible for earthquakes, mountains, valleys and other topographic features, the article says.

“If you think of it as a huge slab of glass, this rupture made a big, gaping crack,” Melgar says in the article. “All indications are that it has broken through the entire width of the thing.”

This 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico on Sept. 7, 2017, and scientists are still unsure about how, when and why such large fractures in the earth occur.

“If you bend an eraser, you can see the top half being extended and stretched, whereas the bottom bit is squashed and compressed,” Melgar says. “The same applies to these slabs. This bending can activate faults within the slab and trigger what are known as intraslab earthquakes,” the article adds.

Melgar goes on to address possible answers to the question of why high-magnitude intraslab earthquakes happen. Noting that the presence of sea water, age and formation of the plate could have made perfect conditions for such an event.

“Whether they feature this type of dramatic severance or not, these powerful quakes are inherently mysterious,” the article says.

To read the full article, see “Quake split a tectonic plate in two, and geologists are shaken.”

April 26, 2018

New study modeling the Yellowstone Plume

Department of Earth Sciences researchers Dylan Colon and Ilya Bindeman published a new forward-modeling study of the Yellowstone Hotspot plume:

The study was picked up by several news services, most notably the Washington Post:

March 3, 2017

David Sutherland featured in Winter 2017 Cascade Magazine

Our own David Sutherland and his research into Greenland’s glaciers are featured in the Winter 2017 issue of Cascade, the Magazine of the UO College of Arts and Sciences.

Here is the link:

A Rising Tide


January 19, 2016

Looking for magma beneath the island of Santorini


UO Professor Emilie Hooft and a team of scientists from the Univerisity of Oregon, Imperial College in London, the University of Thessaloniki, and the University of Athens recently completed a large seismic experiment in the Aegean Sea. The goal of the experiment is to image the distribution of magma beneath the volcano. Learn more at

July 6, 2015

New Science paper on hillslope control of landscape scale

A team led by our own Kristin Sweeny and Josh Roering have a paper in the latest issue of Science, “Experimental evidence for hillslope control of landscape scale.” Their work uses a set of experimental sand boxes to test the relative effects of hillslope formation vs. valley incision on the generation of the overall shape of a mountainous landscape. They found evidence supporting the hypothesis that hillslope formation is the major driver of the shape of these landscapes.

Here is the original research article:

Sweeney, K.E., Roering, J.J., and Ellis, C., 2015, Experimental evidence for hillslope control of landscape scale: Science, v. 349, no. 6243, p. 51–53, URL:

It has been featured in these news stories:

March 30, 2015

New Nature Geoscience Letter from UO Geobiology group

The UO Geobiology research group, headed by Qusheng Jin, recently published a letter in Nature Geoscience, which documents evidence that microbial activity in groundwater is an important source of mobile arsenic. This publication, led by Scott Maguffin, has implications for the safety of well water in the Willamette Valley and other regions with rocks that could feed microbial metabolisms with arsenic.

Maguffin, S.C., Kirk, M.F., Daigle, A.R., Hinkle, S.R., and Jin, Q., 2015, Substantial contribution of biomethylation to aquifer arsenic cycling: Nature Geoscience, v. advance online publication, URL:
Here is some news coverage:




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