Our Focus

Earth’s surface process and subsurface tectonic activity combine in the formation and distribution of sediments and landforms.

Integrated across time, the resulting sedimentary rocks hold the story of past conditions different than today’s. From young sediments, we learn about environmental activities prior to significant human impact or about the impacts of extreme weather events. From sedimentary rocks and landforms, we learn about previous climate states, earlier geographic arrangements of river drainage systems, and past tectonic activity.

Sedimentary rocks hold resources needed for today and the future. Some of those resources are the solid rock itself. Yet many types of resources are fluids within the pore spaces, including fresh water, heat-transporting geothermal fluids, and lithium-rich brines. An understanding of the large scale organization of the pores contributes to discovering, extracting, and carefully managing these vital resources.

Although I retired from the active Cornell University faculty, my interest continues in both historical and natural resources geology. 2024’s active projects include: interpretation of the geothermal reservoirs below Cornell’s campus based on the deep CUBO exploration well; interpretation of the geological history that created and deformed the rocks that are the geothermal reservoirs below Ithaca; late glacial and post-glacial history of Ithaca, NY.

Research Projects and Collaborations

Processes operating at the surface and in the subsurface

Earth history from sedimentary rocks and landforms

Resources in sedimentary rocks:                            water & heat

News & Recent Papers


Cornell awarded project to explore Ithaca’s subsurface to improve the prospects for geothermal heating of campus

Full Article

Recent Papers

Olivares and Jordan 2024, Quaternary Science Reviews

Jordan et al 2022, Lithosphere

De Wet et al 2023, The Depositional Record

Gamboa et al 2022, Global and Planetary Change

Olivares et al 2023, Remote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment