Steven L. Forman

Research Interests

My research interests are centered on the progression and mechanisms of environmental and climate change in the past 250,000 years of Earth's history. Investigations combine field interpretations and analytical measurements with geophysical modeling, to translate site-specific geomorphic or stratigraphic understanding to regional and global contexts on various time scales.

glacier map

1. Northern Eurasian ice sheet and climate dynamics. Defining the extent and timing of ice sheets for the past 20,000 years and attendant oceanographic changes are critical boundary conditions for understanding the Earth's climate. Research concentrates on northern Eurasia, where there is a knowledge gap on past ice-sheet geometry, sea levels, chronology, and oceanographic feedbacks. Combined data from Quaternary geology, paleoceanography, paleolimnology and geophysical modeling sheds new knowledge on the controls on ice sheet inception and decay, feedbacks with the climate system, and ecosystem response.

2. Paleorecords of drought. The geologic record of droughts is important for evaluating recent climate change in the context of natural variability. Extensive wind-deposited sand and silt (loess) covers much of the conterminous U.S., indicating substantial glacial to interglacial hydrologic variability. Research focuses on defining stratigraphic sequences, securing reliable chronologies, and understanding landscape-vegetation-climate feedbacks for aridity and subsequent recovery.

3. Pluvial lake systems. Large lakes integrate climate change over time and space, and, thus, contain important paleoclimatic records. Research focuses on understanding timing and climatic controls on lake systems in Utah, Idaho, and the Great Lakes over annual to millennial time scales over the past 15,000 years.

4. Geochronology. Accurate measuring of geologic time is a critical component in the earth sciences. A long-standing research focus is the development and application of luminescence geochronology to decipher the timing of late Quaternary environmental events, such as paleoearthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flood events, lake-level oscillations, droughts, and periods of human habitation. This includes optically stimulated luminescence and thermoluminescence dating, often employing multiple dating techniques (e.g., amino acids, 14C, Ar/Ar, 26Al, 10Be).

Personal Information
Luminescence Dating Research Laboratory

Selected recent publications:

Forman, S.L. , Ingolfsson, O., Gataullin, V., Manley, W. and Lokrantz, H., 2002. Late Quaternary stratigraphy, glacial limits and paleoenvironments of the Marresale area, western Yamal Peninsula, Russia. Quaternary Research , 57: 355-370.

Forman, S.L. , Oglesby, R. and Webb, R., 2001. Patterns of Holocene dune activity on the Great Plains of North America: Megadroughts and climate links. Global and Planetary Change , 29: 1-29.

Zeeberg, J.J. and Forman, S.L. , 2001. Changes in glacier extent on north Novaya Zemlya in the twentieth century. The Holocene , 11: 161-175.

Doran, P.T. and Forman, S.L. , 2000. Ideas about the surface runoff features on Mars. Science , 290: 713-714.

Waters, M.R., Forman, S.L. and Pierson, J., 1997. Diring Yuriakh: A Lower Paleolithic site in Central Siberia. Science, 275: 1281-1284.