Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Burbank, Douglas W.
Location University of California, Santa Barbara
Primary Field Geology
Secondary Field Geophysics
 Election Citation
Burbank is a leading expert on how tectonics and climate interact to shape the large-scale geological landscape. By combining extensive fieldwork and quantitative methods he has greatly advanced our understanding of the growth and erosion of present-day mountain belts and their associated sedimentary deposits.
 Research Interests
I am a field geologist with a focus on tectonic geomorphology and the interactions among climate, erosion, and tectonics. I attempt to quantify landscapes, geologic structures, and the sedimentary record in order to reconstruct the growth and decay of mountain belts. My primary focus is on young, collisional mountain ranges, such as the Himalaya, the Tien Shan, or the Southern Alps of New Zealand, where strong climatic contrasts, rapid erosion and deformation, and high degrees of spatial and temporal variability permit interactions among these forcing functions and responses to be teased apart. Through use of new techniques and data sets, such as reliable remote-sensing of global rainfall, high-resolution digital topography, and cosmogenic nuclide dating, my group and collaborators have succeeded in quantifying rates of erosion, rainfall, and fault slip at time scales ranging from years to many millennia. These studies have served to define the extent to which temporal or spatial variability in erosion rates is driven by corresponding climatic variability, how landscapes and erosional processes change in response to different rates of tectonic uplift, and whether the addition or removal of loads due to erosion or deposition affects rates of tectonic deformation.

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