Surface Processes, Weathering, Cosmogenic Nuclides, Detrital Thermochronometry
office phone: +1 307 766-3965
1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, Wyoming 82071
Office: ESB 2008
Geology, PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 2000
Civil Engineering, BSE, University of Michigan, 1992, summa cum laude
My group focuses on understanding Earth’s surface and how
it changes over time due to the uplift and erosion of mountains. Earth’s
surface is the dynamic interface between air and rock. It’s also home
not only to us, but also many other familiar organisms, including trees,
birds, and insects, to name a few broad groups. Hence, studying the
dynamics of Earth’s surface helps address practical issues of
sustainability and the management of vital ecosystem resources.
approach stresses that it’s not enough to simply study geology. For example, water and life are crucial to converting rock to soil and moving it
across landscapes and thus shaping Earth's surface in the process. To make progress on the cross-disciplinary
challenges of surface processes research, our work strives to integrate
geology, hydrology, ecosystem science, geochemistry, and an understanding of human
impacts on landscapes. We seek quantitative insight on surface processes. To obtain it, we employ a variety of geochemical, isotopic and geophysical methods.
Our Research Methods Include:
- cosmogenic nuclides,
which reveal long-term erosion rates of soils, rock, and entire catchments;
- detrital thermochronometry, which sheds
light on the sources of eroded material in streams and deposits;
- geochemical mass balance, which helps constrain the relative importance of chemical and physical erosion; &
- near-surface geophysics, which reveals the architecture of
weathering and water storage in the critical zone.
these measurements reveal patterns of erosion, weathering, regolith
formation, watershed geochemistry, and landscape evolution, and thus are
are key to making advances on many exciting problems in surface
- 2012–13 NSF EAR 1239521 Critical Zone Observatory: Snowline processes in the southern Sierra Nevada (CoPI)
- 2012–14 NSF EAR 1148224 Beryllium-10 in detrital magnetite as a new tool in erosion and weathering studies (PI)
- 2012–17 NSF OAI 1208909 The Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (Investigator)
Click here to tour our study areas using Google Earth!
Cosmogenic Nuclide Lab: We oversee 150 square meters of wet-chemical lab space devoted to purification and dissolution of quartz and magnetite. Once minerals are dissolved, cosmogenic nuclides are extracted and prepared for analysis. We use these nuclides to measure rates of weathering, erosion, and sedimentation. Our cosmogenic nuclide lab facilities are open for use by collaborators on select projects. Contact Cliff for information.
Materials Characterization Labs: We have facilities for isolating other minerals, besides quartz; of particular interest to us at the moment is apatite, for detrital thermochronometry. We also boast a cottage industry in the geochemical analysis of soils and rock using XRF and XRD; this supports our quest for a quantitative understanding of weathering, erosion, and soil development in landscapes.
Student Research Opportunities
I am always on the lookout for sharp, motivated graduate students. If you are thinking
about graduate studies in geomorphology or low-temperature
geochemistry, check out my list of projects. If you have questions, contact me by e-mail. Please note: Any inquiries about graduate studies should include a current CV, a one-page
statement of interest, a copy of your transcript, and your most recent GRE scores!
In my courses I challenge students to identify, understand, and
quantify the chemical and physical processes that shape landscapes,
generate soils, and modify water quality. My teaching approach
emphasizes a mechanistic understanding of Earth systems, including
hands-on field components and readings from current research whenever
appropriate. Central in my teaching philosophy is the development of
problem-solving skills and critical thinking abilities. Whenever
possible, I include exercises based on my experience as an industry
consultant -- the goal is to help prepare our geology and geophysics
graduates as best I can for the real-world problems they will face
throughout their careers.Recent Courses:
GEOL/ENR 1500 Water, Dirt & Earth's Environment [Course Webpage] Fall
GEOL 2150 Geomorphology [Course Webpage] Spring
GEOL 4/5760 Rates & Timescales of Surface Processes Spring
GEOL/ENR 4/5200 Environmental Data Analysis in development for Spring
* denotes student under my direct supervision; ◊ denotes student collaborator
Riebe, C. S., Sklar, L. S., Lukens, C. E.*,
Shuster, D. L., 2012. Altitudinal increase in size of sediment shed
from slopes revealed by tracer thermochronometry. AGU Fall Meeting.
Lukens, C. E.*, Riebe, C. S.,
Sklar, L. S., Shuster, D. L. 2012. Moving beyond the average in
cosmogenic nuclide studies of erosion and weathering. AGU Fall Meeting.
Hahm, W. J.*, Riebe, C. S., Araki, S.
2012. The effects of bedrock nutrient density on vegetation and
topography in the Sierra Nevada Batholith, California. AGU Fall Meeting.
Holbrook, W. S., Riebe, C. S., Hayes, J. L.◊,
Reeder, K., Harry, D., Malazian, A., Dosseto, A., Hartsough, P.,
Hopmans, J. 2012 Geophysics in the Critical Zone: Constraints on deep
weathering and water storage potential in the Southern Sierra CZO.
Garber, J. L.◊, Wohl, E. E., Riebe, C. S. 2012.
Using cosmogenic nuclides and geochemical mass balance measurements to
characterize millennial-scale denudation rates in the Colorado Front
Range. AGU Fall Meeting.
Beyeler, J. D.◊, Sklar, L. S., Riebe, C. S. 2012.
Combining natural experiments in source lithology with laboratory
tumbling to quantify sediment resistance to comminution and its role in
downstream fining. AGU Fall Meeting.
St. Clair, J. L.◊, Holbrook, W. S., Riebe, C. S. 2012. Fractures in the Critical Zone: Insights from GPR and seismic refraction surveys. AGU Fall Meeting.
Citation statistics (updated 12/1/12):
755 total citations; 4 first-author papers with 80 or more citations
* denotes student under my direct supervision; ◊ denotes student collaborator
Holbrook, W. S., Riebe, C. S., Hayes, J. L.◊, Harry, D., Reeder, K., Malazian, A., Dosseto, A., Hartsough, P. & Hopmans, J. (in revision) Geophysical constraints on deep weathering and water storage potential in the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory. (Earth Surface Processes and Landforms)
Granger, D. E. & Riebe, C. S. (in press). Cosmogenic Nuclides in Weathering and Erosion. for "Treatise on Geochemistry, Volume 5: Surface and Ground Water, Weathering, and Soils." (2nd edition).
Riebe, C. S. & Granger D. E. 2012. Quantifying effects of deep and near-surface chemical erosion on cosmogenic nuclide buildup in soils, saprolite and sediment. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3339 [PDF reprint]
Jessup, B. S.*, Hahm, W. J.*, Miller, S. N., Kirchner, J. W. & Riebe, C. S. 2011. Landscape response to tipping points in granite weathering: The case of stepped topography in the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory. Applied Geochemistry 26 (Supplement 1): S48-S50. [PDF reprint]
Brantley, S. L. & 28 others. 2011. Twelve Testable Hypotheses on the Geobiology of Weathering. Geobiology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2010.00264.x [PDF reprint]
Ferrier, K. L., Kirchner, J. W., Riebe, C. S. & Finkel, R. C. 2010. Mineral-specific chemical weathering rates over millennial timescales: Measurements at Rio Icacos, Puerto Rico. Chem. Geol. 277:101-114. [PDF reprint]
Granger, D. E. & Riebe, C. S. 2007. Cosmogenic Nuclides in Weathering and Erosion. In "Treatise on Geochemistry, Volume 5: Surface and Ground Water, Weathering, and Soils." J. I. Drever (editor). Elsevier, London. [PDF reprint]
Riebe, C. S., Kirchner, J. W. & Finkel. R. C., 2004. Erosional and climatic effects on long-term chemical weathering rates in granitic landscapes spanning diverse climate regimes. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 224:547–562. [PDF reprint]
Riebe, C. S., Kirchner, J. W. & Finkel, R. C. 2004. Sharp decrease in long-term chemical weathering rates along an altitudinal transect. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 218:421–434. [PDF reprint]
Riebe, C. S., Kirchner, J. W., Finkel, R. C. 2003. Long-term rates of chemical weathering and physical erosion from cosmogenic nuclides and geochemical mass balance. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 67:4411–4427. [PDF reprint]
Riebe, C. S., Kirchner, J. W. & Granger, D. E. 2001. Quantifying quartz enrichment and its consequences for cosmogenic measurements of erosion rates from alluvial sediment and regolith. Geomorphology 40:15–19. [PDF reprint]
Riebe, C. S., Kirchner, J. W., Granger, D. E., Finkel, R. C. 2001. Strong tectonic and weak climatic control of long-term chemical weathering rates. Geology 29:511–514. [PDF reprint]
Kirchner, J. W., Finkel, R. C., Riebe, C. S., Granger, D. E., Clayton, J. L. & Megahan, W. F. 2001. Mountain erosion over 10 yr, 10 k.y., and 10 m.y. time scales. Geology 29:591–594. [PDF reprint]
Riebe, C. S., Kirchner, J. W., Granger, D. E. & Finkel, R. C. 2001. Minimal climatic control of erosion rates in the Sierra Nevada, California. Geology 29:447–450. [PDF reprint]
Granger, D. E., Riebe, C. S., Kirchner, J. W., Finkel & R. C. 2001. Modulation of erosion on steep granitic slopes by boulder armoring, as revealed by cosmogenic 26Al and 10Be. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 186:269–281. [PDF reprint]
Riebe, C. S., Kirchner, J. W., Granger, D. E. & Finkel, R. C. 2000. Erosional equilibrium and disequilibrium in the Sierra Nevada, inferred from cosmogenic 26Al and 10Be in alluvial sediment. Geology 28:803–806. [PDF reprint]