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Earth, Environmental and Geographic SciencesOffice: SCI 311
Process geomorphology; hydrology; environmental science; understanding how wind systems, water currents, and ocean waves pick up and transport sediments, leading to problems of erosion and sedimentation on beaches, dunes, and river (levee) banks.
Courses & Teaching
Geomorphology (introductory, fluvial, coastal), sediment transport mechanics, environmental science. Specifically: EESC 222/GEOG 222 Geomorphology; EESC 422/GEOG 422 Fluvial Geomorphology; EESC 436/GEOG 436 Coastal Geomorphology; EESC 434 Sediment Transport Mechanics
I am a process geomorphologist interested in understanding how contemporary processes on Earth’s surface create landforms and landscapes. I’m generally intrigued by how the natural world works, ideally absent the influence of people, animals, and vegetation, which tend to complicate things immensely.
Early in my career, I fancied myself as a hydrologist, and I conducted research on runoff processes under snowmelt conditions, with a focus on the controls exerted by sedimentological layering in the unsaturated zone (above the groundwater table). At the same time, I was involved in a range of research projects dealing with geomorphic processes in the coastal zone that I found more stimulating and satisfying, largely due to interaction with a few close colleagues and mentors who were smart and fun to be around. There are many forks in the road of life, and you have to make choices, sometimes with little more than a gut instinct guiding the way. Now, I’m a geomorphologist, happily so for more than 30 years.
PhD, Johns Hopkins University
MSc, University of Toronto
BSc (Honours), University of Toronto
Research Interests & Projects
My research expertise is in understanding the mechanics of erosion and deposition of sediments due to flowing water (along coasts and in rivers) and blowing wind (across beaches and coastal foredunes). I have published on such topics as (i) the importance of low-frequency wave motion in nearshore systems leading to rhythmic sand bars, (ii) beach-dune interaction; (iii) the interaction of wind and beach topography in modifying the potential for sediment transport into dunes; (iv) the unsteady nature of wind and the ramifications for saltation dynamics; (v) the structure of the vertical profile of sediment flux; and (vi) the relative influence of recreational boat wakes on erosion of levees and river banks. I have also made contributions to the literature on methodological approaches and the philosophical underpinnings of geomorphology. Many excellent graduate students over the years have forced me (quite willingly) to expand my intellectual wing-span with forays into boundary layer turbulence, riparian restoration, hydraulic modeling, salmonid spawning gravels in relation to dam management, and water governance.
Selected Publications & Presentations