Landscapes are inherently unstable. Tectonic and climatic forces combine with the persistent movement of energy, wind, water, and material across Earths surface to result in evolving landforms. As society grows, it is increasingly important to understand the mechanisms, processes, and rates of surface change to (a) better characterize natural system behavior, variability, and resiliency, (b) predict future changes, assess risk and mitigate against associated hazards, and (c) provide context and insight into the specific role humans are playing in modifying the landscape.
Surface processes research in Geological Sciences at UNC focuses on the geomorphic response to climatic and tectonic perturbations in mountain, continental interior, and coastal/arctic environments; deciphering landscape change from the sedimentary record; tracing chemical element movement throughout terrestrial and marine systems; and feedbacks between uplift, erosion, climate, and vegetation. Particular projects examine (1) the relationship between river channel form, active faulting, and sediment transport at the Himalayan front, (2) the effect of sea level rise on barrier islands along the North Carolina coast, (3) Antarctic margin sediments to improve climate change reconstructions, and (4) the influence of erosion on the evolution of the central Andes.