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Jon D. Pelletier                                                        
Department of Geosciences
University of Arizona
1040 E. Fourth St.
Tucson, AZ 85721
curriculum vitae

Research Interests:

Landforms on Earth's surface are sculpted by flowing water in the form of rivers and glaciers and by the wind and windborne particles. My work seeks to understand the intrinsic feedbacks between landforms on Earth's surface and the fluid flow above the surface which creates these self-organized patterns. I focus primarily on computer modeling and in the integration of model results with field and remote-sensing data. I have divided my research time roughly equally between fluvial geomorphology, tectonic geomorphology, hillslope/soil geomorphology, eolian geomorphology, and surface processes on Mars. I have also published a bit on Earth's climate system and ecosystem dynamics. Selected publications are listed below.

2008 BOOK: Quantitative Modeling of Earth Surface Processes, published by Cambridge University Press. IMPORTANT: Download the Errata and Supplementary Codes that fix bugs in the printed codes. My apology to readers for bugs in the printed codes.

Pictures of my daughter Sophia, son Gabriel, and my 1971 Airstream.

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Select papers, by theme area:

Fluvial geomorphology

Fenton, C.R. and J.D. Pelletier, Cosmogenic 3He age estimates of Plio-Pleistocene alluvial-fan surfaces in the Lower Colorado River corridor, Arizona, USA, Quaternary Research, 79, 86-99, 2013.

Pelletier, J.D., A robust, two-parameter method for the extraction of drainage networks from high-resolution Digital Elevation Models (DEMs): Evaluation and comparison to alternative methods using synthetic and real-world DEMs Water Resources Research, 49, doi:10.1029/2012WR012452, 2013.

Pelletier, J.D., S.B. DeLong, C.A. Orem, P. Becerra, K. Compton, K. Gressett, J. Lyons-Baral, L.A. McGuire, J. Molaro, and J. Spinler, How do vegetation bands form in drylands? Insights from numerical modeling and field studies in southern Nevada, U.S.A., Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, 117, F04026, doi:10.1029/2012JF002465, 2012.

Pelletier, J.D., A spatially-distributed model for the long-term suspended sediment discharge and delivery ratio of drainage basinsJournal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface , 117, F02028, doi:10.1029/2011JF002129, 2012.

Pelletier, J.D., Fluvial and slope-wash erosion of soil-mantled landscapes: detachment- or transport-limited? Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 37, 37-51, 2012.

Pelletier, J. D., and V. R. Baker, The role of weathering in the formation of bedrock valleys on Earth and Mars: A numerical modeling investigation, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, E11007, doi:10.1029/2011JE003821, 2011.

Pelletier, J. D., et al., Calibration and testing of upland hillslope evolution models in a dated landscape: Banco Bonito, New Mexico, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, F04004, doi:10.1029/2011JF001976, 2011.

DeLong, S.B., L.J. Arnold, and J.D. Pelletier, Late Holocene alluvial history of the Cuyama River, California, USA, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 123, 2160-2176, 2011.

Pelletier, J.D., J. Quade, R.J. Goble, and M.S. Aldenderfer, Widespread hillslope gullying on the southeastern Tibetan Plateau: Human or climate-change induced? Geological Society of America Bulletin, in press.

Pelletier, J.D., Minimizing the grid-resolution dependence of flow-routing algorithms for geomorphic applications, Geomorphology, 122, 91-98, 2010.

Pelletier, J.D., The impact of snowmelt on the late Cenozoic landscape of the southern Rocky Mountains, USA, GSA Today, 19(7), 4-10, 2009.

Keating, G., J.D. Pelletier, G. Valentine, and W. Statham, Evaluating Suitability of a Tephra Dispersal Model as Part of a Risk Assessment Framework, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 177, 397-404, 2008.

Blainey, J., and J.D. Pelletier, Infiltration on alluvial fans in arid environments: Influence of fan morphology, Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, F03008, doi:10.1029/2007JF000792, 2008

DeLong, S.B., J.D. Pelletier, and L.J. Arnold, Climate-change-triggered sedimentation and progressive tectonic uplift in a coupled piedmont-axial system: Cuyama Valley, California, USA, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 33, 1033-1046, 2008.

Pelletier, J.D., M.L. Cline, S.B. DeLong, C.D. Harrington, and G.N. Keating, Dispersion of channel-sediment contaminants in fluvial systems: Application to tephra redistribution following a potential volcanic eruption at Yucca Mountain, Geomorphology, 94, 226-246, 2008.

Pelletier, J.D., L. Mayer, P.A. Pearthree, P.K. House, J. Klawon, K. Demsey, and K.R. Vincent, An integrated approach to alluvial-fan flood hazard assessment with numerical modeling, field mapping, and remote sensing, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 117, 1167-1180, 2005.

Leier, A.L, P.G. DeCelles, and J.D. Pelletier, Mountains, monsoons, and megafans, Geology, 33, 289-292, 2005.

Pelletier, J.D., Persistent drainage migration in a numerical landform evolution model, Geophysical Research Letters, 31, doi:10.1029/2004GL020802, 2004.

Pelletier, J.D., The influence of piedmont deposition on time scales of mountain-belt denudation, Geophysical Research Letters, 31, doi:10.1019/2004GL020052, 2004.

Pelletier, J.D., and S. DeLong, Oscillations in arid alluvial channels, Geology, 32, 713-716, 2004.

Pelletier, J.D., Drainage network evolution in the Rainfall Erosion Facility: Dependence on initial conditions, Geomorphology, 53, 183-196, 2003.

Pelletier, J.D., The self-organization and scaling relationships of evolving river networks, Journal of Geophysical Research, 104, 7359-7375, 1999.

Pelletier, J.D. and D.L. Turcotte, Synthetic stratigraphy with a stochastic diffusion model of sedimentation, Journal of Sedimentary Research, 67, 1060-1067, 1997.

Pelletier, J.D. and D.L. Turcotte, Scale-invariant topography and porosity variations in fluvial sedimentary basins, Journal of Geophysical Research, 101, 28,165-28,175, 1996.


Tectonic geomorphology

Pelletier, J.D., How do pediments form? A numerical modeling investigation with comparison to pediments in southern Arizona, USA, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 122, 1815-1829, 2010.

Pelletier, J.D., Numerical modeling of the late Cenozoic geomorphic evolution of Grand Canyon, Arizona, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 122, 595-608, 2010.

Pelletier, J.D., P.G. DeCelles, and G. Zandt, Relationships among climate, erosion, topography, and delamination in the Andes: A numerical modeling investigation, Geology, 38, 259-262, 2010.

Pelletier, J.D., Engelder, T.M., Comeau, D., Hudson, A., Leclerc, M., Youberg, A., and S. Diniega, Tectonic and structural control of fluvial channel morphology in metamorphic core complexes: The example of the Catalina-Rincon core complex, Arizona, Geosphere, 5, 363-384, 2009.

Pelletier, J.D., Numerical modeling of the Cenozoic fluvial evolution of the southern Sierra Nevada, California, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 259, 85-96, 2007.

DeLong, S.B., J.D. Pelletier, and L. Arnold, Bedrock landscape evolution modeling: Calibration using geochronology and DEM analysis, Geological Society of America Bulletin, 119, 157-173, 2007.

Pelletier, J.D., Erosion-rate determination from foreland basin geometry, Geology, 35, 5-8, 2007.

Barnes, J.B., T.A. Ehlers, N. MacQuarrie, P.B. Sullivan, and J.D. Pelletier, Eocene to recent variations in erosion across the central Andean fold-thrust belt, northern Bolivia: Implications for plateau evolution, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 248, 118-133, 2006.

Barnes, J.B., and J.D. Pelletier, Latitudinal variation of denudation in the evolution of the Bolivian Andes, American Journal of Science, 306, 1-31, 2006.

Pelletier, J.D., Estimation of three-dimensional flexural-isostatic response to unloading: Rock uplift due to Late Cenozoic glacial erosion in the western U.S., Geology, 32, 161-164, 2004.


Hillslope/soil geomorphology

Crouvi, O., J.D. Pelletier, and C. Rasmussen, Predicting the thickness and aeolian fraction of soils in upland watersheds of the Mojave Desert, Geoderma, 195-196C, 94-110, 2013.

Pelletier, J.D., and J.T. Perron, Analytic solution for the morphology of a soil-mantled valley undergoing steady headward growth: Validation using case studies in southeastern Arizona, Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, 117, F02018, doi:10.1029/2011JF002281, 2013.

Pelletier, J.D., ., L.A. McGuire, J.L. Ash, T.M. Engelder, L.E. Hill, K.W. Leroy, C.A. Orem, W.S. Rosenthal, M.A. Trees, C. Rasmussen, and J. Chorover, Calibration and testing of upland hillslope evolution models in a dated landscape: Banco Bonito, New Mexico, Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, 116, F04004, doi:10.1029/2011JF001976, 2011.

Rasmussen, C., P. Brooks, J. Chorover, T. Huxman, P.A. Troch, and J.D. Pelletier, An open system framework for integrating critical zone structure and function, Biogeochemistry, 102, 15-19, 2009.

Pelletier, J.D., and C. Rasmussen, Geomorphically-based predictive mapping of soil thickness in upland watersheds, Water Resources Research, 45, W09417, doi:10.1029/2008WR007319, 2009.

Pelletier, J.D., and C. Rasmussen, Quantifying the climatic and tectonic controls on hillslope steepness and erosion rates, Lithosphere, 1, 73-80, 2009.

Moores, J.E., J.D. Pelletier, and P.H. Smith, Crack propagation by differential insolation on desert surface clasts, Geomorphology, 102, 472-481, 2008.

Pelletier, J.D., M. Cline, and S. DeLong, Desert pavement dynamics: Numerical modeling and field-based calibration, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 32, 1913-1927, 2007.

Pelletier, J.D., and M.L. Cline, Nonlinear slope-dependent transport in cinder cone evolution, Geology, 35, 1067, 2007.

Pelletier, J.D., S. DeLong, A.H. Al Suwaidi, M.L. Cline, Y. Lewis, J.L. Psillas, and B. Yanites, Evolution of the Bonneville shoreline scarp in west-central Utah: Comparison of scarp-analysis methods and implications for the diffusion model of hillslope evolution, Geomorphology, 74, 257-270, 2006.

Pelletier, J.D., C.D. Harrington, J.W. Whitney, M.L. Cline, S.B. DeLong, K.T. Ebert, Geomorphic control of radionuclide diffusion in desert soils, Geophysical Research Letters, 32, L23401, doi:10:1029/2005GL024347, 2005.

Hsu, L., and J.D. Pelletier, Correlation and dating of Quaternary alluvial fan surfaces using scarp diffusion, Geomorphology, 60, 319-335, 2004.

Pelletier, J.D., B.D. Malamud, T. Blodgett, and D.L. Turcotte, Scale-invariance of soil moisture variability and its implications for the frequency-size distribution of landslides, Engineering Geology, 48, 255-268, 1997.


Eolian geomorphology

Pelletier, J.D., H. Mitasova, R.S. Harmon, and M. Overton, The effects of interdune vegetation changes on eolian dune field evolution: A numerical-modeling case study at Jockey's Ridge, North Carolina, USA, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 34, 1245-1254, 2009.

Pelletier, J.D., Controls on the height and spacing of eolian ripples and transverse dunes: A numerical modeling investigation, Geomorphology, 105, 322-333, 2009.

Cook, J.P., and J.D. Pelletier, Relief threshold for eolian transport across alluvial fans, Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, F02026, doi:10.1029/2006JF000610, 2007.

Pelletier, J.D., A Cantor set model of eolian dust accumulation on desert alluvial fan terraces, Geology, 35, 439-442, 2007.

Pelletier, J.D., Sensitivity of playa windblown-dust emissions to climatic and anthropogenic change, Journal of Arid Environments, 66, 62-75, 2006.

Pelletier, J.D., and J.P. Cook, Deposition of playa windblown dust over geologic time scales, Geology, 33, 909-912, 2005.



Kolb, K.J., A.S. McEwen, and J.D. Pelletier, Investigating gully flow emplacement mechanisms using apex slopes, Icarus, 208, 132-142, 2010.

Kolb, K.J., J.D. Pelletier, and A.S. McEwen, Modeling the formation of bright slope deposits associated with gullies in Hale Crater, Mars: Implications for recent liquid water, Icarus, 205, 113-137, 2010.

Pelletier, J.D., D. Comeau, and J. Kargel, Controls on glacial valley spacing on Earth and Mars, Geomorphology, 116, 189-201, 2010.

Banks, M., and seven coauthors, An Analysis of Sinuous Ridges in the Southern Argyre Planitia, Mars using HiRISE and CTX Images and MOLA Data, Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, E09003, doi:10.1029/2008JE003244, 2009.

Banks, M., and ten coauthors, HiRISE Observations of Glacial and Periglacial Morphologies in the Circum-Argyre Planitia Highlands, Mars, Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, E12015, doi:10.1029/2007JE002994, 2009.

Pelletier, J.D., A.L. Leier, and J.R. Steidtmann, Wind-driven reorganization of coarse clasts on the surface of Mars, Geology, 37, 55-58, 2009.

Pelletier, J.D., K.J. Kolb, A.S. McEwen, and R.L. Kirk, Recent gully deposits on Mars: Wet or dry flow?, Geology, 36, 211-214, 2008.

Banks, M., and J.D. Pelletier, Forward modeling of ice topography on Mars to infer basal shear stress conditions, Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, doi:10.1029/2007JE002895, 2008.

Pelletier, J.D., How do spiral troughs form on Mars?, Geology, 32, 365-367, 2004.



Pelletier, J.D., Coherence resonance and ice ages, Journal of Geophysical Research, 108, doi:10.1029/2002JD003120, 2003.

Pelletier, J.D., The power-spectral density of atmospheric temperature from time scales of 10-2 to 106 yr, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 158, 157-164, 1998.

Pelletier, J.D. and D.L. Turcotte, Long-range persistence in climatological and hydrological time series: analysis, modeling, and application to drought hazard assessment, Journal of Hydrology, 203, 198-208, 1997.

Pelletier, J.D., Analysis and modeling of the natural variability of climate, Journal of Climate, 10, 1331-1342, 1997.



Pelletier, J.D., Are large complex ecosystems more unstable? A theoretical reassessment with predator switching, Mathematical Biosciences, 163, 91-96, 2000.

Pelletier, J.D., Model assessments of the optimal design of nature reserves for maximizing species longevity, Journal of Theoretical Biology, 202, 25-32, 2000.

Pelletier, J.D., The species-area effect and self-affine dynamics in a biogeographical model of speciation and extinction, Physical Review Letters, 82, 1983-1987, 1999.



Pelletier, J.D., Spring-block models of seismicity: Review and analysis of a structurally-heterogeneous model coupled to a viscous asthenosphere, Geophysical Monographs, 120, 27-42, 2000.

Pelletier, J.D., Statistical self-similarity of magmatism and volcanism, Journal of Geophysical Research, 104, 15425-15438, 1999.

Pelletier, J.D., and D.L. Turcotte, Self-affine time series: II. Applications and models, Advances in Geophysics, 40, 91-166, 1999.

Pelletier, J.D., Paleointensity variations of Earth's magnetic field and their relationship with polarity reversals, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 110, 115-128, 1999.

Turcotte, D.L., J.D. Pelletier, and W.I. Newman, Networks with side-branching in biology, Journal of Theoretical Biology, 193, 577-592, 1998.

Pelletier, J.D., Kardar-Parisi-Zhang scaling of the top of the convective boundary layer and the fractal structure of cumulus cloud fields, Physical Review Letters, 78, 2672-2675, 1997.

Pelletier, J.D., Variations in solar luminosity from time scales of minutes to months, Astrophysical Journal, 463, L41-L45, 1996.