The DES faculty and graduate students are engaged in a wide variety of Earth Science
research within the disciplines of Geography, Geology, Geophysics, and Archaeology.
However, much of the research is concentrated within our principal research foci.
Research in these foci are carried out, in part, through cooperative work with the
Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI), the Groundwater Institute,
the FedEx Institute of Technology, and the office of the U.S. Geological Survey, located
on the main campus, as well as with other departments such as Biology, Chemistry,
Anthropology, and Civil Engineering.
Research Focus Areas:
3. Active Tectonic & Dynamic Geomorphology
4. Hydrology & Water Resources
5. Geoarchaeology & Quaternary Studies
6. Spatial & Community Analysis
Hazards (coordinator: Arleen Hill)
More than twenty DES faculty members and their graduate students do both applied and
basic research related to the principal DES research-focus: Hazards. Their research
is intertwined under the auspices of the Center for Hazard Analysis and Research at
Memphis (CHARM) and CERI. CHARM is unique in the USA in the large number of diverse
faculty devoted to research on all aspects of multi-hazard analysis. CHARM is capable
of comprehensive integrated coverage of all important aspects of natural, environmental,
and man-induced hazards from understanding the basic causes of hazards through application
of multi-hazard-susceptibility analysis to different regions, to the catastrophic
impact that hazards have on people through vulnerability and risk analysis, to hazard
mitigation, to determination of the economic and policy impact of hazards.
Basic research in Geophysics related to earthquake-hazards is the principal function
of DES faculty at the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI). Faculty
from all DES disciplines are also engaged in basic research on Active Tectonics &
Orogenic Belts and Quaternary Studies & Geomorphology which also includes investigations
related to landscape evolution, climate change, and paleoecology as well as those
related to the causes of natural hazards such as active faults, landslides, flooding,
drought, severe storms, and subsidence & karst development. Through the Hydrology
& Water Resources focus, in cooperation with the Groundwater Institute and the U.
S. Geological Survey, DES faculty examine both environmental hazards and other issues
related to vital water resources. CHARM faculty apply basic hazard-research and Spatial
Analysis to determine both the susceptibility of different regions to different types
of hazards and to vulnerability and risk analysis, both fundamental tools for planning
sustainable growth and development, particularly of urban areas, while protecting
people from multi-hazards. New faculty members who join DES in 2003/04 academic year
expand CHARM capabilities into vulnerability and risk analysis and also examine motivational
behavior during emergencies, economic costs related to hazards, and policy issues
related to multi-hazards.
Faculty who work on hazards include: Arleen Hill, Jerry Bartholomew, Jer-Ming Chiu, Randy Cox, Chris Cramer, Arch Johnston,
Hsiang-Te Kung, Chuck Langston, Esra Ozdenerol, Chris Powell, Jose Pujol, Bob Smalley,
Gregory Taff, Roy Van Arsdale, Mitch Withers.
Geophysics (coordinator: Chuck Langston)
The physical Earth system can be monitored, probed, examined, and mapped through a
wide variety of quantitative observational and modeling techniques to deduce the present
state of the Earth and its past history. The Geophysics graduate focus group in the
DES has strong ties with CERI and performs state-of-the-art research in Earthquake
Science, Seismic Monitoring, Atmospheric and Earth Acoustics, Exploration Geophysics
including a strong program in Reflection Seismology, Marine Seismology, Crustal Strain
measurement and Geodynamics, Earthquake Hazards, Theoretical Seismology and Geophysics,
Seismic Instrument Development, and Tomography. Field projects are international
in scope ranging from our own backyard with the New Madrid Seismic Zone, to the North
American Plate boundaries, to Hawaii, South America, Central America, Asia, Africa,
Antarctica, New Zealand on land and on the sea.
There is a wide variety of field equipment available for faculty and graduate research.
Facilities include a state-of-art earthquake monitoring network consisting of over
140 short-period and broad band seismic instruments located in the New Madrid and
Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zones; an 11 station continuous GPS network; 24 channel
and 48 channel digital refraction/reflection seismographs with vertical and horizontal
component geophones, cables, and seismic sources; a portable magnetometer; 11 broadband
CMG-6TD seismographs; 11 K2 strong motion accelerographs, surveying equipment; 2 portable
gravimeters; and a variety of more specialize field equipment built for individual
projects. Computational facilities at CERI are extensive and include a graduate student
PC lab and a dedicated SUN computer research laboratory that includes the full suite
of Landmark Graphics seismic processing and interpretation software in addition to
a general library of common seismological/geophysical software packages and compilers.
CERI also has a large technical staff that can help with field experiment deployments
and building specialized instrumentation for graduate research.
The Geophysics graduate students are a close-knit group mainly housed at CERI who
are encouraged to work on diverse, creative scientific projects with more than one
faculty member throughout their graduate career. Collegiality and cooperation are
the norm with students helping each other with research problems, practice sessions
for important presentations and graduate milestones, and an occasional game of ping-pong.
Publication of research results before graduation is strongly encouraged particularly
for the PhD students. Students are also encouraged to present their research at national
meetings in their field.
Geophysics group faculty members include: Jer-Ming Chiu, Chris Cramer, Heather DeShon, Arch Johnston, Chuck Langston, Beatrice
Magnani, Chris Powell, Jose Pujol, Bob Smalley, Mitch Withers. In addition, the USGS
has close ties with the Geophysics group through the USGS CERI Regional Office with
adjunct faculty member Oliver Boyd. There are also important research ties with faculty
in Civil Engineering particularly in hydrology and earthquake engineering.
Active Tectonics & Dynamic Geomorphology (coordinator: Roy Van Arsdale)
Our faculty offer unique opportunities to students who are interested in tectonics
related to active deformation and plate motions. Active tectonics projects are being
conducted in the United States, South America, Australia, Antarctica, Central America,
Caribbean islands, China, Africa, and India. A long standing area of focused research
has been the New Madrid seismic zone of the central United States where DES student
and faculty have conducted seismologic, seismic reflection, paleoseismologic, structural,
and stratigraphic studies.
The geomorphic research focus centers around four general themes: tectonic, fluvial,
arid, and hill slope processes and forms. Building from a foundation of these general
areas, The research is international in scope and includes studies in China, Australia,
Central America, the Caribbean, Malaysia, India, Taiwan, and numerous locations in
the northeastern, southeastern, and western United States.
Faculty members and their graduate students who study tectonics and geomorphology
within the Department of Earth Sciences take advantage of interdisciplinary research
with the U.S. Geological Survey and other academic departments within the University
of Memphis. Students can also participate in tectonic studies in classic orogenic
belts such as the Appalachians, Cordilleran, Ouachitas or Grenville or within the
cratonic interior of North America. Basin studies may be pursued using recently acquired
Landmark Graphics software. This software is particularly suited for petroleum-related
research, but is also being applied to earthquake and groundwater studies.
Faculty members involved in tectonic studies include: Roy Van Arsdale, Jerry Bartholomew, Jer-Ming Chiu, Randy Cox, Archibald Johnston,
Hsiang-Te Kung, Charles Langston, Daniel Larsen, Jose Pujol, Chris Powell, Robert
Smalley and Mitchell Withers.
Hydrology & Water Resources (coordinator: Dan Larsen)
The Department of Earth Sciences offers a focus in Hydrology that builds upon faculty
strengths in the physical, biological and human aspects of the hydrologic cycle. Our
specialties include modern and paleo- hydrogeology, landform evolution, wetland ecology,
large river ecology, aqueous geochemistry, water resource management, hydrogeologic
modeling and the impact of climate change on water resources. Our proximity to the
Mississippi River contributes to our expertise in large river hydrology and enables
international collaboration on water resource management and issues related to large
river systems. The location of Memphis in the Mississippi embayment, with its exceptional
high-quality aquifers, provides excellent urban and natural laboratories for hydrogeologic
research, particularly given our close collaboration with the Groundwater Institute,
housed in the Herff College of Engineering here at the University of Memphis. Faculty
and researchers involved in the Hydrology focus also include members of the Biology
Department, the US Geological Survey and the Center for Earthquake Research and Information.
Faculty who participate in Hydrology and Water Resources include: Dan Larsen, Jerry Anderson (GWI), Scott Franklin (Biology), Jack Grubaugh (Biology),
Hsiang-Te Kung, Reza Pezeshki (Biology), George Swihart, Brian Waldron (GWI).
Geoarchaeology & Quaternary Studies (coordinator: David Dye)
Geoarchaeology interweaves geologic techniques, GIS, remote sensing, and geophysical
techniques into Archaeology research. Quaternary studies branch out to investigate
landscape evolution, climate change, paleoecology, and active tectonics over the last
two million years. Research activities include field, laboratory, geographic information
analysis, and modeling studies that focus on the timing, causes, and mechanisms of
natural and anthropogenically forced climate change, and on the effects of past climate
changes on the physical, biological, chemical, social, and economic conditions of
the earth. University of Memphis Archaeology programs outside of DES can be access
through the Archaeology web page.
Faculty who participate in Geoarchaeology include: David Dye, Jerry Bartholomew, Randy Cox, Judson Finlay, Arch Johnston, Dan Larsen,
Dave Lumsden, Andrew Mickelson, Esra Ozdenerol, Jose Pujol, George Swihart, Roy Van
Spatial and Community Analysis (coordinator: Esra Ozdenerol)
The Department of Earth Sciences offers a focus in Spatial Analysis that builds upon
faculty strengths in research, education and applications development in geographic
information science and its related technologies, including geographic information
systems (GIS), Remote Sensing and Global Positioning System. DES faculty represents
University of Memphis as lead delegate at University Consortium of Geographic Information
Science (UCGIS) and explores advancing spatial theory and methods with the GIScience
community throughout the nation.
The spatial analysis research focus teaches students GIScience applications and design
as well as technical aspects of GIScience, including algorithms, data structures,
spatial statistics and field techniques. Research focus areas in the Earth Sciences
department- all provide fertile areas for the exploration of spatial analysis tools
and theories. These research foci are supported by our Memphis Center for Advanced
Spatial Analysis (MCASA). In cooperation with the FEDEX Institute of Technology, DES
faculty uses Memphis metropolitan area as well as national and international settings
as a laboratory for their GIS related research.
Faculty who participate in Spatial Analysis include: Esra Ozdenerol, Arleen Hill, Hsiang-Te Kung, Andrew Mickelson, Gregory Taff, Roy