Department News

Richard CowenRichard Cowen | In memoriam: 1940-2020

Our colleague and dear friend, Senior Lecturer Emeritus Richard Cowen, passed away on January 8, 2020. A gentleman and a scholar, Richard's teaching excellence inspired thousands of students, as well as UC Davis Earth and Planetary Sciences faculty and staff. Messages of sympathy and memories of Richard may be sent to If you wish to have your message included on our Memories of Richard page, please let us know.

Magali BillenMagali Billen | New Clues to Deep Earthquake Mystery

From UC Davis News: A new understanding of our planet’s deepest earthquakes could help unravel one of the most mysterious geophysical processes on Earth. Magali Billen builds numerical simulations of subduction zones, where one plate sinks below another, to better understand the forces controlling plate tectonics. Her recent work helps explain the distribution of deep earthquakes, showing that they most often strike in regions of “high strain” where a sinking tectonic plate bends and folds. Her findings were published May 27 in the journal Science Advances.

Sandy CarlsonSandra Carlson | One of the Most Downloaded Articles in the Past Year - Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Sandra Carlson's research article The Evolution of Brachiopoda was one of the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences' most downloaded articles in the past year. The Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, in publication since 1973, covers significant developments in all areas of earth and planetary sciences, from climate, environment, and geological hazards to the formation of planets and the evolution of life.

Bruton and mapGive Day 2020 | Summer Field Geology Challenge

THANK YOU to Robert and Lisa Campbell and all donors who chose to support the Summer Field Geology Challenge! Your generosity will ensure that our students continue to benefit from the immersive experience of spending six weeks applying knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world problems!
Give Day is 12 pm April 17 – 5 pm April 18, 2020. Help support our Summer Field Geology course, a class considered to be the most valuable in the geology curriculum. Your gifts will ensure students continue to benefit from the immersive experience of spending six weeks applying knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world problems in the field. Once 30 gifts to this fund are received, $12,500 from Robert and Lisa Campbell will activate on Give Day. Challenges are specific funding opportunities backed by a donor who has already made a substantial donation.

Chip LesherCharles Lesher | New Study Reveals Earth’s Core Might Be Leaking

From International Business Times: A new study has revealed that the molten core of Earth might be leaking iron. According to the authors of the study, it is possible that the core has been leaking iron for billions of years now. The new study was conducted by a team of scientists led by geology professor Charles Lesher of the University of California Davis. Their findings were presented in a new study published in the journal Nature Geosciences.

Cities Widely Ignore Federal Flood Protection Rules, With Few Penalties

New York Times | by Christopher Flavelle and John Schwartz: "...FEMA requires local officials to ensure that the ground floor of every new or repaired building is at least as high as the expected peak of a major flood. Yet as many as 112,480 structures nationwide fail that test despite being built after the rules took effect, typically decades ago, according to FEMA data analyzed for The Times by Naomi Kalman, a geographic information specialist at the University of California, Davis, and her colleagues."

Ryosuke MotaniRyosuke Motani | One of the top 100 downloaded papers for Scientific Reports in 2019.

Ryosuke Motani's research article Early Triassic marine reptile representing the oldest record of unusually small eyes in reptiles indicating non-visual prey detection received 10, 009 article downloads in 2019, placing it as one of the top 100 downloaded papers for Scientific Reports in 2019.

Jeff MountJeff MountIs California ready for the next drought?

From The last drought in California was so catastrophic, some of the hardest hit communities still haven’t recovered. Dr. Jeffrey Mount, University of California, Davis professor emeritus and member of the Public Policy Institute of California, refers to the old adage, "The longer it's been since the last drought, the closer we are to the next. We know it's going to happen. It’s just a matter of time. Does it begin next year?"

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