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. 2022’s active projects include: interpretation of the geothermal reservoirs below Cornell’s campus based on the summer 2022 deep CUBO exploration well; late glacial and post-glacial history of Ithaca, NY; the role of extreme rain events as drivers of landscape change in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
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
Jordan et al 2020, Remote Sensing of the Environment
Whealton et al 2020, J. Geographical Information Science
Herrera et al ‘21, Science of the Total Environment