Earth Surface

The surface processes group at the University of Minnesota blends field investigations, numerical modeling, geospatial analyses, laboratory experiments, and instrumentation fabrication to address changes in past and present glaciers and ice sheets, river systems, sea level, and landscapes.


Left: the ring of lakes across northeastern North America marks the footprint of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Figure: A. Wickert
Right: Steffi Tofelde, Andy Wickert, and a friendly burro measure clast sizes in the Quebrada del Toro, Argentina. The burro's ears were >D50. Photo: Y. Rojo

 

The University of Minnesota is situated at the meeting point of major geologic, physiographic, hydrologic, and ecologic provinces. Here, the wooded hills of the Paleozoic Plateau along the Upper Mississippi Valley meet the edge of the Prairies, and the central lakes meet the rugged cliffs and boreal forests of the Superior Craton and Keweenawan Rift. Waters from Minnesota flow to the Saint Lawrence, Hudson Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. The topography is a patchwork of ice-stream-generated moraines, glacial outburst flood gorges, and exposed Precambrian tectonic structures.

 

 

We aim to take advantage of our glacial and geological legacy, as well as ongoing efforts in land and water resource management, to understand the physics that underlie changes in the landscapes around us, and apply this knowledge to comprehending the past and predicting the future.