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Program Description

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Welcome to the Stanford Tectonic Geomorphology Laboratory (STGL). Our research interests focus on understanding landforms and landscapes shaped by geomorphic processes and tectonic deformation. We combine field studies, analytical and numerical models, and laboratory measurements to understand how landscapes evolve in different tectonic, climatic, and geologic environments. Our research spans a broad range of topics that cover various geographical regions, from studies of deformation and erosion along the San Andreas Fault and landscape studies within the Colorado Plateau. 

The STGL offers a program that emphasizes basic geomorphic and geologic observations, laboratory analysis that help constrain erosional process rates, and numerical and analytical modeling skills. Specifically, we use observations of tectonic and erosional processes in specific environments to build conceptual models of how these processes operate. We then use detailed field and laboratory measurements that constrain the distribution of erosional processes and their rates may be used to test quantitative models of these processes. Students typically learn and use numerical methods to simulate and analyze landscapes, Geographic Information Systems, remote sensing datasets, and geostatistical methods.

Our graduate program consists of coursework that will prepare students in field and quantitative methods. Coursework provides students with working knowledge in the fields of geomorphology, hydrogeology, and structural geology. In addition, electives in remote sensing/Geographic Information Systems (GIS), geostatistics, and tectonics ensure breadth of knowledge in the core disciplines of tectonic geomorphology. In addition, students are exposed to state-of-the-art methods in tectonic geomorphology, including LiDAR Airborne Laser Swath Mapping (ALSM-LiDAR) high-resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) collection and analysis, and cosmogenic radionuclide dating methods. Our facilities include a set of GIS workstations and numerical servers, as well as a cosmogenic radionuclide sample preparation laboratory. Thus, students graduating from our program will be prepared for a wide range of geoscience careers that demand both strong field and quantitative skills.

If you are interested in applying to the Stanford Geological and Environmental Sciences program to work in the STGL, please contact Dr. George Hilley (