Earth and Climate Sciences
Research and/or Teaching Area: Dynamic meteorology, mesoscale meteorology, coastal zone systems
The year was 1999. The dot-com bubble was stretched (almost) to bursting. A national movement toward science education reform was gathering momentum, fueled by grant money and stimulated by new ideas and research about teaching and learning. California had approved a new set of content standards for future high school science teachers. Soon came new standards for future K-8 teachers. At about that time, Karen Grove (then department Chair) and I had become both dissatisfied with traditional science teaching and convinced that improving teacher preparation in science was important. We decided to tap into the money flowing into science education reform. In 2000 we received a grant from NASA-NOVA, and in 2002 we landed another one, from NSF, and in 2009 a third, also from NSF. These grants have led to the creation or modernization of several geoscience courses: GEOL/METR/OCN 405, "Planetary Climate Change", which investigates the dynamics of climate change and is aimed at geosciences majors and future high-school science teachers; a course for future K-8 teachers; and the Department's introductory geology, oceanography, and meteorology courses for non-majors. The changes to the latter also dramatically upgraded the preparation and support that we provide to our graduate teaching assistants. Finally, the grants also paid for 35 networked Mac laptop computers and prompted the remodeling of Rooms 604 and 513 of Thornton Hall to create new, combination classroom/computer labs, which have stimulated teaching experiments in several additional classes. (However, it has also meant more work--maybe too much!--for me as the computer lab administrator.)
My research has largely been limited to summers, when I sometimes
visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research in
Boulder, CO to contribute to the ongoing development and testing
of a state-of-the-art computer forecasting model, the Weather
Forecasting and Research (WRF) model.
Associate Professor of Geology
B.A. Geology - Humboldt State University
M.S. and Ph.D. Geology - University of Nevada, Reno
At SFSU since 1998
Phone: (415) 405-0353
Office: TH 616
Research and/or Teaching Area: Neotectonics, seismotectonics of coastal central California and Nevada
I continue to involve students in my summer research out in central Nevada focusing on a variety of recent and ongoing projects such as: patterns and rates of paleoseismicity in the central Nevada seismic belt; characteristics of active faults in relation to geothermal resources in the Basin and Range; paleoliquefaction in the Stillwater seismic gap; and pluvial lake histories and using pluvial lake shorelines as tiltmeters to measure isostatic and tectonic deformation. Much of the work we’ve accomplished over the past few years has recently come to fruition through manuscripts either accepted or submitted to the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America and the Journal of Geodynamics. I’ve organized and participated in a number of field trips the past few years; none more exciting and rewarding than the 2003 Annual Pacific Cell Friends of the Pleistocene field trip to Dixie Valley, Nevada. In keeping with tradition, the Friends trip was an epic experience, camping out under a star-filled desert sky and full moon with over 200 crazy students and professionals for three days and nights. The aspects of historical faulting, paleoseismology, and chronostratigraphy of the central Nevada seismic belt we presented seemed to go over pretty well too. It’s been a fun teaching majors’ courses in Structural Geology, Field Methods, Neotectonics, and a non-majors course on earthquakes, working with students on their thesis research, and spending most of the summer months in the field trying to keep my research progressing, often in new directions. In the last few years I’ve had the privilege of working with some talented and enthusiastic M.S. and B.S. students on interesting local projects such as: documenting the active nature and style of deformation along the (blind) Serra thrust fault in southwest San Francicso (Drew Kennedy); Tectonic geomorphology and paleoseismic behavior of the southern Rodgers Creek fault (Carrie Randolph-Loar); correlation and uplift rates of late Pleistocene marine terraces along the Seal Cove fault (Mitch Monroe); Geophysical mapping of serpentinite bodies in the San Francisco Presidio (Joe Pesche); and mapping and Ar/Ar dating of coast range volcanic rocks at Burdell Mountain with implications for long-term offset on the East Bay fault system (Rick Ford).
Professor of Oceanography
B.A. Marine Biology University of California, Santa Cruz
MESM (Master of environmental Science and Manangement UC Santa Barbara
MS Marine Science, UC Santa Barbara
Ph.D. Ocean Sciences UC Santa Cruz
At SFSU since 2007
Phone: (415) 338-6015
Office: TH 623
Research and/or Teaching Area: Paleoceanography / Paleoclimatology
Direct temperature measurements only extend about two hundred years, during which time climate variations were relatively minor. Paleoclimate research is therefore required to put the global warming trend of the last decades within the context of the Earth’s dynamic climate system.
My primary research interest is understanding the mechanisms which sustained a warm climate in the early Pliocene, the most recent period of time when Earth’s temperatures were warmer than they are today for a sustained period of time. My records of sea surface temperatures (SST) in the tropical and sub-tropical oceans have demonstrated that the worlds upwelling regions, which are very biologically productive and characterized by cool temperatures in the modern ocean, were significantly warmer during the early Pliocene compared to today (water off of California was 9°C warmer!). As I establish my lab here at SFSU I plan to pursue several research questions to further improve our understanding of the warm pliocene: Are warmer upwelling regions during the early Pliocene associated with major changes in biological productivity? Are global upwelling regions linked through changes in the ventilated thermocline? What are the meridional and zonal SST gradients off the Calif
Professor of Meteorology
B.S. Applied Geophysics, Columbia University
M.S. and Ph.D, Atmospheric Science, State University of NY at Albany
At SFSU since 1988
Phone: (415) 338-1778
Office: TH 609
Research and/or Teaching Area: Physical meteorology; tropical climatology, applications of GPS technology to meteorology
In Fall 2012 I completed eight years as chair of the Department of Geosciences. This position helped me get a broader perspective on the issues facing geoscience education across the country. Natural disasters such as the 2011 Japan quake and tsunami and hurricane Sandy in 2012 highlight the need to to provide our students with best possible education so they can contribute to the solution of these problems
In recent years I have had the opportunity to visit Cuba, my native country, and to establish collegial working relationships with Cuban meteorologists. I am working with American colleagues to extend to Cuba the network of ground based GPS receiving stations (known as "COCONet") that can detect in real time the amount of water vapor present in the atmosphere. Since water vapor is the "fuel" of hurricanes, the COCONet network should help in improving hurricane forecasting in the Caribbean basin. With the hep of two of our students, I am also looking at the practical uses of soundings of the atmosphere obtained by the COSMIC satellite network that use GPS technology to obtain data that was previously only available through weather balloons.
Research and/or Teaching Area: Hydrogeology, vadose zone hydrology, aqueous geochemistry, groundwater contamination, hydroclimatology, and climate change/variability effects on water resources
My research goals are the improved understanding of processes that affect the sustainability of water resource in California and the western United States. Similar to other arid and semiarid regions, an available and clean source of water is especially critical for sustainable society. However, many water resources are threatened because of depletion and contamination from human activities and climate variability and change. In particular, my research focuses on processes that affect groundwater quantity and quality. Groundwater is an essential component of the global water cycle, the largest source of global freshwater, and is one of the most important natural resources because it is the primary source of drinking water to over one quarter of the population worldwide. Groundwater provides much of the Nation’s public and private water supply, supports agricultural and industrial economies, and contributes flow to rivers, lakes, and wetlands. In California, groundwater is the largest source of freshwater and is pumped at rates that exceed groundwater use in all other States. Groundwater enhances water supplies because it has a capacity to help meet water needs during periods of increased demand during drought and when surface-water resources are close the limits of sustainability. Therefore, it is critical to improve understanding of groundwater interactions within the global water cycle, supports ecosystems and society, and responds to complex human activities that are coupled to natural-climate variability (such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation) and human induced climate change. To address these concerns, my students and I use field, laboratory, and modeling-based research to answers critical questions about the many process-level controls on groundwater quantity and quality in vulnerable aquifer systems in agricultural, coastal, urban, and alpine settings.
Professor of Geology
B.S. Geology - San Jose State University
Ph.D. Geological and Environmental Sciences - Stanford University
At SFSU since 2005
Phone: (415) 338-1144
Office: TH 515
Research and/or Teaching Area: Petrology, geochemistry, geochronology, the tectonics of mountain building, and natural hazards
involves field work
that has taken me
to mountain belts
all over the globe
- the Indian Himalaya,
the Dabie-Sulu belt
in eastern China,
Norway, the Urals
Mountains in Russia
and the Kokchetav
massif in Kazakhstan.
While each is unique,
these mountain belts
have one thing in
rocks. The eclogites
form in subduction
zone complexes in
the suture zones
of mountain belts
(where two continents
and record a complete
comprising the edge
of a continent, to
subduction into the
upper mantle and
then the return
path back to the
number of these
subducted to depths
in the upper mantle
where pressures are
great enough to
km or >70 miles)
thus making them
Study of these
not only the petrology
of these rocks but
the tectonics of
My research has required a variety of analytical techniques, in which undergraduate and graduate students have already been involved: radiometric dating (U-Pb dating of zircon on an ion microprobe [SHRIMP] using cathodoluminescence imaging, and apatite fission-track dating); establishing mineral chemistry using an electron microprobe; investigating the graphite-diamond transition using x-ray diffraction, raman and infrared spectroscopy, and scanning and transmission electron microscopy; and stable isotope analyses of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen using infrared CO2 and in-situ UV laser ablation mass spectrometry and on an elemental analyzer.
Professor of Meteorology
B.A. Geology - University of California, Berkeley (1968)
M.A. Geography/Climatology - University of California, Berkeley (1970)
Ph.D Geography/Climatology - University of California, Berkeley (1979)
At SFSU since 1979
Phone: (415) 338-7728
Office: TH 613
Geosciences Web Site Manager
Research and/or Teaching Area: Synoptic and mesoscale meteorology, severe weather, weather analysis and forecasting, coastal zone meteorology
I have been interested in unusual storms since my childhood, particularly after the disastrous storms of 1955 caused so much flooding in California. Although severe and unusual storms in California remained an interest of mine that blossomed into an area of research, my specific research thrust lies in the area of tornadic thunderstorms, particularly tornadic supercells. Since 1991, I have published eight studies in the refereed literature, have had seven conference presentations and four Technical Memoranda publlished by the National Weather Service in the area of tornadic storms in California. In addition, I was co-coordinator or session chair of the American Meteorological Society's (AMS) Conference on Severe Local Storms in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2006, and served on the Severe Local Storms Committee of the AMS for the period 1996-1998.
The major thrust of my research in this area was to show that supercell tornadic thunderstorms can and do occur in California and to bring forecasting techniques on such storms to the National Weather Service Forecast Offices in this part of California. My refereed publications have included co-authors with the National Severe Storms Lab, the Storms Prediction Center, the National Weather Service and with undergraduate and graduate students at San Francisco State University.I n the midst of all this research activity, I maintain an active teaching and administrative role in the Department, the latter culminating in the approval of a BS in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and a Certificate in Meteorology for Broadcasters. Finally, in this guise, in Spring 2003, I was happy to serve as catalyst for the naming of the Department of Geosciences as the site for the new Satellite Field Office of the NWS’s Weather Forecast Office in Monterey.
Professor of Geology
B.S. Trace Element Geochemistry-University of British Columbia
Ph.D. Geology - Stanford University
At SFSU since 1971
Phone: (415) 338-7729
Office: TH 620
Research and/or Teaching Area: Experimental petrology, geochemistry, economic geology, and soils geology
How do you keep this man down? After everyone in the department gave him up for dead, and started the monumental task of cleaning out his office, David suddenly reappeared at the beginning of last semester, and immediately assumed the grueling schedule that has been his modus operendi (Matt will explain the etymology) In his customary whirlwind fashion David is characteristically everywhere at once. When he's not teaching Chas's mineralogy course, taking on Lisa's historical geology, or stimulating students in physical, he's chairing the departmental curriculum committee and contributing to space and HRTP issues. David is able to maintain his ambitious travel schedule, having visited, during this past semester alone, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Tasmania, Tierra del Fuego and Uzbekistan. Locally he's been to Redwood City and Pacifica, and confides in me his ambition to see Milpitas. He's still committed to studying granite pipes, apparently oblivious to the fact that the revised building codes now require that all plumbing be either copper or approved plastic. This does not dissuade geology majors and graduate students, however, who are eager to work under his inspired tutelage. He regularly tutels Charlene, and is overseeing Matt's dictionary of esoterica (a euphemism for geology terms you'll only find in Norway).
Professor of Geology
B.S. Applied Science - New York University
B.E. Civil Engineering - Cooper Union
M.S. Civil Engineering - University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D. Geology - University of California, Berkeley
At SFSU since 2003
Phone: (415) 338-1204
Office: TH 622
Research and/or Teaching Area: Fluvial, Hillslope, and Tectonic Geomorphology; Engineering Geology; Hydrology; Ecosystem Restoration
Together with my student
collaborators, I am asking both
basic and applied research
questions about the physical
processes that shape the surface
of the earth and other planetary
bodies. We work at both
the geological times scale at
which landscapes evolve and the
much shorter engineering time
scale at which humans create
and solve problems. We
use a spectrum of research
approaches, including field
observation and experimentation,
laboratory physical modeling,
development of theoretical
models, and numerical landscape
analysis and simulation.
Recent and current
include: How do
rivers cut through
bedrock to create
valleys and limit
the heights of
mountains? How can
we better manage
sediment to restore
dams? How are
carved by liquid
methane into water
ice on Saturn’s
are the feedbacks
between biology and
geomorphology in a
controls the size
by hillslopes to
What are the linkages
between form and
process in bedrock
I teach courses in Geomorphology and Engineering Geology, and in quantitative methods applied to geoscience problems at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
Research and/or Teaching Area: Understanding the climate change of the last century and predicting the response of Earth's climate to anthropogenic forcing requires a strong understanding of the character and the physical origin of natural climate variability.
My research focuses on how to separate natural climate variability from human-induced climate change in the observational record. Currently my work focuses on problems in the interpretation of two records of past climate variability -- high-latitude tree rings and a biological tracer of past climate found in ocean-bottom sediment cores. Analysis of tree rings have been used to argue that the warming of the last half-century is unprecedented in at least the last thousand years. However many of these same tree rings fail to capture the warming of the last half-century, calling into question whether they may also have failed to fully capture past warm epochs. Over longer timescales, different methods or inferring marine climate variability give radically different pictures of ocean climate variability over the last 8000 years. These different pictures of the Earth's past variability imply very different pictures of what the future of Earth's climate may look like.
Research and/or Teaching Areas: Introductory Oceanography
They call me 'Ocean Matt', which is appropriate because I teach marine science, and because my lunar calendar pegs me as a Water Dragon. In addition to working on new methods for communicating earth science intelligence, I also work with NOAA and the Flower Garden Banks Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico, using SCUBA to study the vitality of coral reefs. My next ideal travel adventure would be to visit the Afar Triangle.
Research and/or Teaching Areas: Structural Geology, Tectonics, Earthquakes, and Geoscience Education
Bridget's most recent geological research involved an investigation of Plio-Pleistocene deformation at Alvord Mountain within the Mojave Block of Southeastern California. This was done to assist in a better understanding of fault mechanics relating to the San Andreas fault and plate boundary, which lies south of the field area. The results of this research was presented at a Cordilleran Geological Society of America meeting in Boise, ID in 2004 and published as part of her Masters thesis research. Currently, she is involved in research relating to Geoscience Education with colleagues in this department, at Stanford University and at San Jose State University.
In teaching, her interests primarily lie in figuring out ways to get students more excited and aware of themselves and their geological surroundings. She teaches the following courses: Introduction to Geology (GEOL100), Introduction to Meteorology (METR100), Introduction to Oceanography (OCEN100), The Violent Earth (GEOL302), and The Violent Ocean and Atmosphere (METR302).
Education and Outreach
Research and/or Teaching Area: Micropaleontology, paleoceanography, stratigraphy, historical geology
Lisa was a member of the Geosciences faculty at San Francisco State for 22 years, including 4 years as Associate Dean of the College of Science and Engineering and 3 years as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at San Francisco State. In the summer of 2012 Lisa accepted a new job at UC Berkeley as the Director of Education and Outreach for the UC Museum of Paleontology where she can combine her love of fossils and science education. Lisa will remain active in the Geosciences Department advising students and directing the SF-ROCKS program.
Research and/or Teaching Area: Hydrodynamics of coastal areas and current systems along continental margins
The new undergraduate degree in meteorology and oceanography means that my teaching duties are being shuffled. For my first four years at SFSU I taught the GE class, Geol 102: Introduction to Oceanography and a series of graduate oceanography classes that attracted mostly students pursuing the MS in Marine Biology. In addition I developed a class to teach the MATLAB programming language. With the new degree I will start teaching more majors classes. The first was offered last spring, Metr 200 and 201, a combined course to introduce atmospheric and oceanic dynamics. The students especially appreciated a day cruise on the R/V Point Sur. Well, most of them appreciated the cruise....This academic year I have the opportunity of being the visiting faculty at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Bill Broenkow retired last year so I am teaching the Introductory Physical Oceanography Course while the search is on for his replacement. I’m enjoying working with new colleagues and seeing another facet of the CSU. My research is taking an unexpected turn. About every 30 years the oceanography community undergoes a national self examination. The present self evaluation (http://www.ocean.us/ and http://www.pewoceans.org) is coming out strongly in support of creating regional associations for operating coastal ocean observatories. One important component will be monitoring coastal surface circulation using a technology referred to as HF radar (high frequency). We set up an experimental array at RTC in 2000 using a new instrument called CODAR (Barrack et al., Oceans 2000). Since then I have been looking for funding opportunities to create a permanent CODAR installation in San Francisco Bay and the Gulf of the Farallones. Federal money has been available for two other regional observatories. One is CI-CORE (Center for Integrative Coastal Observation, Research and Education, http://mlml.calstate.edu/cicore) which is a California State University federal entitlement initiative to create a monitoring network at CSU campuses aimed at serving local regulatory agencies and providing educational tools. Kenneth Coale, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, is the head of the program and, as of last August, I am the coordinator. The second is NOAA funding to hire a person to help organize a central California “Regional Association” to be the liaison between federal funding sources and the observing work in California. I’m serving on the executive council of this group and am working to see that all three efforts pull together to make sure central California is a national leader in coastal observing. These are exciting times to be active in coastal oceanography and in a department that has created a new degree directly related to these challenges. Certainly no complaints about not enough to do.
Chas Bickel opted for an early retirement, and so the Fall 2005 semester was his last as a full time faculty member in Geosciences. Petrology has always been an area where our majors have benefited enormously from his expertise, and an area in which, once our students have gone on to grad school or employment, they have consistently been able to demonstrate their competence.
Jon Galehouse studied fault creep on local Bay Area faults - he monitored creep movements, especially on the Hayward and Calaveras faults, and had numerous funded research grants from the USGS. He employed numerous students for many years, and some of them are still continung the studies, which are now overseen by Karen Grove and John Caskey.
From the moment Kelley joined SFSU as dean in 1975, he has actively encouraged faculty to pursue grants for research, pushed for recruitment of a diverse faculty, established new facilities such as the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies (RTC), published his own research in oceanography and geology, taught classes, mentored fellow faculty in the College, and much more. During his 26-year tenure, the College has increased annual external funding for research from $100,000 upon his arrival as dean to $22 million today, which he says is one of his two greatest accomplishments as dean. That $22 million represents 60 percent of the College’s budget. In addition, he emphasizes that all of the research is conducted to benefit students as well as faculty. n conducting his research on coastal upwelling, Jim Kelley was one of the first oceanographers to employ advanced technology at sea to collect and analyze oceanographic data. He also served as president of the California Academy of Sciences from 1985 to 1993. In 2000, the academy awarded him with the Fellows’ Medal — its highest honor — for his ground-breaking work and his role as Dean of the College of Science and Engineering.
Steve Kirsch was most interested in lattice structure models of minerals, and created many examples, most of which are still in use in the Department's curriculum. He mapped regions in western Nevada and spent parts of each summer in that region. His avocation is wine making.
It's always seemed as though York was operating on his own personal geologic time scale as he continued his career in geosciences here at San Francisco State. Not only did he help create our department and serve as its head during its critical formative years, but he also has the distinction of being the faculty member on our campus with the longest active teaching record. However, even York is a mere mortal, and is beginning to feel the effects of the aging process. This past semester he had to cut short his full teaching schedule, for health reasons, and has been urged by his doctor to take the Spring, 2004 semester off to rest and recuperate. We wish him well and eagerly await his decision about how he will continue his association with our department.
I am most interested in what we can learn about ourselves through an investigation of Earth processes, an area identified as "Earth Metaphor." This is necessarily a broad-ranging topic, encompassing the connections that exist among the Geosciences and virtually every discipline that involves human interactions with the Earth. The aesthetic qualities of distinctive geologic patterns and forms concern me at present, both from a conceptual base, and as a vehicle for generating student interest in the Geosciences. I am also involved in documenting the multisensory nature our planet, and incorporating these elements as part of a more traditional Earth Sciences pedagogy.
What I have enjoyed most since returning to the department after being Dean of Undergraduate Studies and serving as Associate Director of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges is being around students and Science College and department colleagues. It is nice to be back in the classroom and back dabbling in some research especially thinking again about the processes that might contribute to the formation of beach cusps. I have been interested in the formation and denudation of beach cusps my entire professional career. I now think that perhaps the same mechanism that works to form nearshore ice volcanoes might be the contributing mechanism for beach cusp formation namely the unequal distribution of wave height along storm generated waves or the effect of internal waves on moderating wave heights at regular and predictable intervals. I plan to test both of these ideas out this spring. As many of you who know me staying away from policy and policy issues is difficult so it should come as no surprise that over the last five years I have remained involved in policy development and implementation of said policy. I worked behind the scenes in the formulation of some of the ideas in the newly revised master plan for higher education here in California and while at WASC as well as when I returned to SFSU I played a major role in the reformulation of how universities are evaluated during the accreditation process. The new design focuses both on the ability to deliver what it says it delivers as well as how effective is the education that a university says it delivers. Both of these undertaking were great opportunities to work with colleagues across disciplines, from across the country and worldwide. I had a great time and the products were worth the efforts. At State and at the prompting of David Mustart I reinvolved myself in General Education and have chaired that council for the last two and a half years. The result has been the completion of a restatement of General Education Policy on campus as well as the initiation of a review of all of GE. A monumental task indeed but the good news is that the process is well underway and the light at the end of the tunnel is very bright. The future looks even brighter as I have renewed my commitment to a number of research directions working with colleagues like Toby Garfield and others here on campus as well as with some longtime colleagues in DC.
Retirement has opened up new challenges and opportunities. I am enjoying the freedom to explore new research areas and to travel to interesting places. I still maintain an office in the department and attend many of the lectures and seminars. I teach the occasional geology class mainly at CSU Chico where I fill in for my son, Morgan, from time to time when he is away attending a meeting or doing field work. I have remained active in my studies of Tertiary rocks of northern California. Morgan and I continue to lead field trips to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. We are expanding our work of the Eocene rocks on the north side of Mount Diablo into the subsurface of the Sacramento basin. We have focused our research on the application of sequence stratigraphy to the depositional setting and reservoir characterization of the lower Tertiary succession in the southern part of the basin. We presented our research at the National meeting of AAPG in Salt Lake City and the Pacific Section meeting at Long Beach in 2003.
My interest in the coal-rich deposits in the Domengine Formation of California has encouraged me to travel back to Europe and my roots in Wales in order to visit other coal mining regions. Over the past year, I have many several visit to the South Wales and Somerset coalfields. While in Somerset, I took the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of William Smith using the book “The Map that changed the World” as my guide. I also spent some time in the excellent coal mining exhibits in museums in Munich and Prague. I even visited my PhD thesis area in Pembrokeshire this winter after an absence of over 40 years. I worked in the Carboniferous Limestone of this beautiful part of the coast of southwest Wales from 1957-60 while a graduate student at the University of Glasgow. The study area is now part of the Pembrokeshire National Park. I was able to look again with more experienced eyes at the rocks and structures exposed in the coastal cliffs. I stood at the section in Tenby that was the site of my first published paper in the Geological Magazine in 1964. I looked critically at the section and hoped that I got it right the first time. My over all feeling was that I had come along way since those far off days and remembered the old saying “rocks don’t lie”.
John Tyler studied the Pigeon Creek Formation along the San Mateo coast, and published papers on its origin.