Daniel Douglass

Lecturer
Location: 14 HO (Holmes Hall), Boston, MA 02115

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Glacial geology, Past climates and climate change, Soil formation and soil geomorphology

About

I have conducted research in three main areas: Glacial and climate reconstructions of the ice ages in Argentina, Chile, and Utah. The sizes, shapes, and sometimes thicknesses, of ice-age glaciers can be determined by mapping out moraines and other landforms that are created around the edges of glaciers. A colder/snowier…

I have conducted research in three main areas:

  1. Glacial and climate reconstructions of the ice ages in Argentina, Chile, and Utah. The sizes, shapes, and sometimes thicknesses, of ice-age glaciers can be determined by mapping out moraines and other landforms that are created around the edges of glaciers. A colder/snowier climate will sustain a larger/thicker glacier, so glacier size is a first-order approximation of the climate in which it existed.
  2. Quaternary geochronology. Understanding when these moraines and other land forms were created adds a temporal context of the glacial advances (cooling) and retreats (warming). In Patagonia we used cosmogenic nuclide surface-exposure dating to determine when large boulders were deposited on top of moraines. Longer exposures to cosmogenic radiation allow for more 10Be and 26Al to be created within the quartz found in these boulders.
  3. Soil formation and the application of soil science to address geologic problems. Once the glaciers deposit the sediment, soil formation starts within these deposits and they are physically and chemically changed. The exact processes that are active will depend on the climate and living organisms of the region, but it will also depend on the landscape and the types of minerals found within the deposit. A surprising amount can be learned about past environments by studying the soil that exists in a region.

Lecturer Douglass in the news

Antarctica

There’s a giant crack in an Antarctic ice shelf – should we be worried?

A crack in the Antarctic ice shelf known as Larsen C has grown by 17 miles since the beginning of December, according to news reports. Scientists warn that a giant iceberg may soon break away from the shelf. We asked Northeastern’s Daniel Douglass, an expert in glacial geography, to explain why ice shelves form, what causes them to crack, and how they affect the environment.