Thank you for your interest in our program
here at Lehigh University. The
of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) has 15 full-time faculty
that cover a broad range of disciplines in Geology, Ecology, and
Environmental Science. I am a fluvial and tectonic geomorphologist
specifically interested in the long-term evolution of landscapes, the
fluvial response to active tectonics, and watershed response to
human-dimension climatic change. EES has active research programs in all
of these areas and we are aggressively recruiting outstanding graduate
students to build the graduate program in these and related disciplines.
The faculty I collaborate and interact with most closely here are Peter
Zeitler (tectonics and geochronology), Claudio Berti (geology and
geomorphology), Joan Ramage (Remote Sensing, InSAR), Ken Kodama
(paleomagnetism and cyclostratigraphy), Anne Meltzer (seismology,
geophysics), and David Anastasio (structural geology). I have some long
standing collaborations with our ecologists, paleoecologists,
hydrologists, and climate modelers (Don Morris, Bruce Hargreaves,
Zicheng Yu, Steve Peters, and Ben Felzer) working mostly on the ecology
and physical hydrology of the Lehigh River watershed. And I
maintain close research ties to many other researchers around the world.
Visit my research page to learn more about active and on-going research
collaborations and projects.
Solid Earth Research Group Surface Processes Research Group Environmental Change Research Group
Research in surficial processes is well
represented across the board in EES. It is one of the few Departments
nationwide with two geomorphologists of complementary expertise on staff
(Pazzaglia and Evenson); Peter Zeitler and Bruce Idelman (research
staff) have brought a new He/U-Th thermochronology lab on line dedicated
to understanding near-term exhumation of orogens; the ecology group has
a long standing excellent reputation for expertise in limnology
(Heargreaves and Morris) and paleoecology (Yu) and our geochemist
(Peters) has an active research programs in watershed-scale aqueous
geochemistry. Our commitment to excellence in surficial processes is
complimented by our recent hires of a soil geologist/ecologist and
OK, OK!!! This is not the view from the University (wish it was). But this place is real close by! It is the view looking northeast at the Lehigh water Gap near Palmerton, PA. This, and the nearby Wind Gap are places where W. M. Davis and company struggled to understand the origin of transverse drainages. Lehigh University is actually located on the northern flank of Pennsylvania’s Blue Ridge (South Mountain) and has a commanding view of the Lehigh Valley (Great Valley) and Ridge and Valley of the Appalachians to the northwest. This is the landscape of Davis and Hack. It is where the great geomorphic discourses on long-term landscape evolution were born and continue to be lively debated. Far from a "dead" orogen, the Appalachians have a complicated post orogenic exhumational history and stand as one of the best studied orogens in the decay stage of its evolution. These studies, some of which are now ongoing funded research projects in the EES Department, are investigating the causes of late stage rock-uplift and exhumation through the relatively new technique of He/U-Th thermochronology. Over a distance of only 250 km, one can travel from the subsided Tr-J rift-flank uplift buried under a wedge of Coastal Plain sediments, across the Fall Zone, a flexurally-maintained hinge of the isostatically-rising continent and subsiding Coastal Plain, through the high grade metamorphic heart of the formerly Andean-scale late Paleozoic Appalachians on the Piedmont, to a continental rift basin formed during a time when the area around Lehigh looked like the Basin and Range, into the Ridge and Valley, the fold and trust belt of the late Paleozoic Appalachians, and finally, the Allegheny Plateau, the seaward facing escarpment marking the present-day location of the drainage divide in its slow, but methodical westward march.
In addition to the exciting orogen-scale
tectonic geomorphology research in the Appalachians, the setting is well
suited to studying climatic, ground water, and coastal processes. A wide
range of glacial and periglacial deposits in central and eastern
Pennsylvania preserve a rich record of the effects of past climate
changes on landscapes. Ground water geomorphology is well-expressed in
the numerous karst systems underlying Pennsylvania’s carbonate valleys.
And easy access to beaches on the Atlantic coast provide a hands-on
experiences of coastal processes and change.
The research and graduate program for geomorphology students is decidedly field-intensive and designed to afford opportunities to learn about the geomorphology in Lehigh’s own backyard, as well as the individual's location of study. Current research is motivated by three primary interests:
Recent and current geomorphologic and related research projects include the studies of these students:
Matt McGavick is a second-year year M.S. student interested in fluvial and tectonic geomorphology in the central and eastern U.S. (CEUS). Matt is developing a stratigraphic model of the terraces of the South Anna River, VA using soils and OSL geochronology. The South Anna River traverses directly over the epicenter of the 2011 M5.8 Mineral earthquake.
Helen Malenda recently wrapped
up her M.S. thesis in central Virginia where she completed a USGS EDMAP
funded project mapping river terraces in the Ferncliff and Pendleton
quadrangles. Helen also completed a knickpoint celerity model
project for Piedmont streams.
Dempsey, co-advised by Don Morris, recently
wrapped up his Ph.D. project in bio-geomorphology and aquatic ecology.
Chris studied the microbial ecology of small headwater streams
dating and characterizing the quality of exported DOC and POC.
His work is important in quantifying the terrestrial component of the
global carbon budget. Chris is now a professor at Gannon
Ryan McKeon, co-advised by Peter Zeitler completed his Ph.D. in thermochronology, tectonic geomorphology, and landscape evolution. Ryan's persistence with bad-actor apatites (his words) has allowed him to understand the most recent history of erosional unroofing in the Appalachians.
Kellen Gunderson, co-advised
by David Anastasio completed a M.S. and Ph.D. at Lehigh. Kellen
studied growth strata along the northern Apennine Mountain Front,
Italy. Here, he used cyclostratigraphy to place time into tilted
stratigraphic sections and then measure the unsteadiness of
sedimentologic and tectonic processes. Kellen is a geologist for Chevron.
encourage you to contact these folks for a candid assessment of EES
and working with me as an advisor. Please also visit the research pages to learn more about
research project opportunities.
of the river terrace map of the South Anna River, completed by Helen
A reasonable measure of what prospective students might expect out of a graduate degree from Pazzaglia's program at Lehigh is to know what former students are now doing. Keeping in mind that these folks have driven their own success, here's a list of the current activities of former students where I was the major advisor (more or less in the order of their graduation):
The graduate student in geomorphology can expected to take a wide range of course offerings in EES as well as supporting related sciences from other Departments, particularly Civil Engineering. Specific course offerings (400-level are graduate courses) in any two year teaching cycle may include (* = core course):
For more information, please feel free to contact the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. You can fill out and submit an application via the web by following this link. Also, please feel free to email or call Frank Pazzaglia at (610) 758-3667.