Alan D. Howard
Professor · Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University, 1970
My research focuses on the complex interactions and constraints that govern the evolution of natural landscapes, including surfaces of other planets. This research combines field studies, theory, simulation modeling, and quantitative analysis. Field studies have included evolution of channels in badlands, the natural regime and man’s influence on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and the role of groundwater sapping in erosion of sandstone canyons in the southwest U.S.. Simulation models have been developed for barchan dune equilibrium, stream network development, river meandering, drainage basin evolution, and scarp retreat by groundwater sapping. Theoretical modeling includes the role of equilibrium and thresholds in geomorphic systems and controls on drainage network geometry. Planetary research has included studies of eolian, polar, and fluvial processes on Mars. Recent student research on terrestrial landscapes focuses on landform evolution and river sedimentation on the Virginia Coastal Plain, thgeomorphic effects of large floods, hydrology and lakes of the U.S. Great Basin, and the history of debris flow erosion of the Virginia Blue Ridge. Planetary studies by students include erosion of Martian craters, deposition and erosion of thick sedimentary deposits on the rim of the Martian Hellas impact basin, and studies of drainage network evolution and lakes on Mars early in its history.
Drainage Basin Simulation Studies
The geomorphology of drainage basins has been studied at the University of Virginia through a series of theoretical and simulations models..
Floodplain and Meandering Research
This effort concentrates on modeling of floodplain evolution, particularly in meandering streams
Fundamentals of Geology (EVSC 2800)
Studies the composition, structure, and internal processes of earth; the classification, origin, and distribution of earth materials; earth's interior; and the interpretation of geological data for the solution of problems of the natural environment.
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms (EVSC 3840)
Examines erosional processes and their role in creating landforms. Explores the influence of processes and landforms on land use and the human environment, including hazards from floods and landslides
Planetary Geology (EVSC 4890)
Studies the origin and evolution of the solar system, emphasizing the geology of the planets and satellites of the inner solar system and the satellites of the gaseous planets. Compares and contrasts the Earth with Venus and Mars. Prerequisite: Introductory course in geosciences or astronomy.
Geomorphology (EVHY 5820)
Studies the processes that shape the land surface and their relationship to human activity.