Stratigraphy, Structure, and Surface Processes

Stratigraphy, Structure, and Surface Processes

Research in these disciplines is aimed at understanding complex interactions among tectonic and climatic processes that drive landscape evolution, earthquake histories, basin filling, and deformation of the crust. We investigate these processes through detailed field studies combined with related tools such as geochronology, numerical modeling, isotope geochemistry, and GIS-based geospatial data analysis. Studies of surface processes examine how tectonics and climate affect the evolution of landscapes. Fieldwork, numerical simulation, topographic analysis, and experimental study of rivers, landslides, soils, glaciers, rainfall, and fire are used to study the movement of water and sediment over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Structural geology and neotectonics focus on application of modern field and analytical techniques to solving problems in Cenozoic tectonics and active faulting. Recent studies examine deformation in the Basin and Range province and coastal region of Oregon, active tectonics of the San Andreas Fault system, Cenozoic extension in Death Valley, and seismic risk along the Pacific margin of the U.S. and in central Asia. Studies of sedimentary basins investigate the dynamic interactions among crustal subsidence, sediment transport, changing depositional environments, and active faulting and folding that govern these processes. Projects are focused on Neogene basins in southern California and northwestern Mexico, and Mesozoic tectonics of eastern Oregon.

Rebecca Dorsey profile picture

Rebecca Dorsey

Becky’s research is focused on field studies of tectonically active sedimentary basins, with the goal of understanding the complex tectonic, stratigraphic, and geomorphic evolution of active regions. Integrated basin analysis informs us about the dynamic interplay between ancient fault systems that create basins, and the surface processes that fill them with sediment. Becky and her students are working primarily in two areas: (1) Miocene to Pleistocene sedimentary basins along the San Andreas plate boundary system in southern California and NW Mexico; and (2) late Miocene to Pliocene sediments in SE California and SW Arizona, which record the initiation and early evolution of the Colorado River.


Marli Miller profile picture

Marli Miller

Marli uses detailed geologic mapping and small-scale structures to reconstruct the evolution of fault zones.  She is particularly interested in the structural geology and tectonics of the Death Valley region as it pertains to crustal extension.  Her most recent students and interests have focused on brittle faulting the Amargosa Chaos and brittle/ductile evolution of the turtlebacks.


Josh Roering profile picture

Josh Roering

Erosion sculpts landscapes in response to tectonic activity and climatic forcing. The focus of Josh’s research is on understanding how surface processes alter and transport bedrock and soil near the Earth’s surface. Understanding these processes is a critical prerequisite for analyzing how crustal dynamics, climate change, and land-use practices affect landscape morphology, sediment yield, and geologic hazard potential. Through field, remote sensing, experimental, and numerical investigations, Josh’s research group has embarked on a series of studies to explore how landscapes respond to various perturbations, such as storms, earthquakes, and fire.  Our investigations have encouraged us to forge fruitful collaborations with geodynamicists, soil scientists, hydrologists, ecologists, climatologists, sedimentologists, and structural geologists among others, as surface processes operate at the interface of Earth’s lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.


David Sutherland profile picture

David Sutherland

Dave’s research group focuses on the zone where freshwater meets saltwater. These estuarine regions of the world hold vital importance to humans, both by acting as connections to the ocean for a majority of the world’s population, but also as regulators of global climate. In particular, Dave’s group has recently focused on ice-ocean interactions in the glacial fjords of Greenland, southeast Alaska, and the western Antarctic Peninsula, in addition to the movement and melt of large icebergs. Closer to home, his group works with a diverse range of scientists and stakeholders on understanding the circulation and sediment dynamics in Coos Bay, a small estuary in southern Oregon that hosts UO’s marine lab and a National Estuarine Research Reserve. See his website,, for more information.


Ray Weldon profile picture

Ray Weldon

Ray’s research is primarily focused on problems in neotectonics and structural geology.