University of California, Riverside

Earth Sciences

Department of Earth Sciences

Nicolas C. Barth

Nicolas C. Barth

Assistant Professor of Geology
Jr Faculty Distinguished Teaching Professor

Ph.D. Geology University of Otago, New Zealand 2013

Phone: (951) 827-3183
Office: Geology 454A
Personal Website:
Digital Mapping Website:


Research Interests:

Neotectonics / Tectonophysics / Geomorphology / Structure / Natural Hazards / Landscape Evolution

Though my research interests span many aspects of geology, at the core I aim to improve our understanding of active faults and the evolution of landscapes. I strive to employ a multi-disciplinary field-based, lab-supported, collaborative approach to explore far-reaching, broader picture research that is widely beneficial and societally relevant. My research is currently focused on the New Zealand and California plate boundaries.

Jozi Pearson (PhD) -- Research focuses on using lidar and Quaternary geochronology techniques to understand surface slip behavior on New Zealand's Alpine Fault. These data complement paleoseismic data and provide a key input for numerical simulations of earthquake behavior on this ideal natural fault.

Robert Leeper III (PhD) -- Research focuses on identifying sedimentary evidence of Holocene natural hazards such as wildfires, derbis flows, floods, landslides, tsunamis, and earthquakes in southern California. Identifying chronologies of past events can help us understand and reduce future risk. Robert is co-supervised by Andy Gray in Environmental Sciences.

Chris Gentile (PhD) -- Research focuses on dating large-scale landslides in southern California to better understand their spatiotemporal distribution, causative factors, and their legacy on the landscape. Building a GIS database of these and other landslides in southern California will allow us to begin to correlate landslide types to existing conditions and better understand their occurrence.

Additionally I frequently supervise undergraduate students on independent projects related to local tectonics and geomorphology.

* On New Zealand's Alpine Fault I characterize uplift patterns, earthquake deformation, and fault anatomy from outcrops and geomorphology. Additionally I am pursuing the possibility that a component of active fault creep may occur on the southern Alpine Fault.

* In the Southern Alps I study landscape evolution driven by glacial and tectonic processes in an effort to spatiotemporally quantify geomorphic drivers in this highly active orogen. I also study landscape effects of large magnitude earthquakes (especially landslides) and document drainage reorganization events.

* In California I have a particular interest documenting numerous large landslide deposits that have escaped previous mapping or been misinterpreted (as low angle normal faults, tectonic features, fault rock, alluvial material or bedrock). Many of these rock avalanches are excellent targets for Quaternary dating techniques (e.g. 10Be cosmogenic dating) making them an unexploited treasure-trove for determining fault slip rates, rates of erosion and deposition, and unraveling the long-term influence of climate and tectonics on our landscape.

* I experiment heavily with digital field mapping techniques for utilization in cutting-edge undergraduate and graduate education, and in my own research. Many of these efforts are being documented at the UCR GeoPad website I have built.

* I am involved in both the Quaternary sediment and bedrock geology teams of the Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP) on the central Alpine Fault.

* I collaborate with Mayan archaeologists in UCR's Department of Anthropology, using lidar data to understand the unique geomorphology of the Yucatan, develop visualization methods to improve detection of archaeological features, and better understand the geological context for the formation of clays utilized in Mayan ceramics.

Magnoni, A., Stanton, T.W., Barth, N.C., Fernandez Diaz, J., Osorio Leon, J., Perez Ruiz, F., Wheeler, J.A. (2016) Assessing detection thresholds of archaeological features in airborne lidar data from central Yucatan, Advances in Archaeological Practice, v. 4, 232-248, doi: 10.7183/2326-3768.4.3.232

Robinson, T., Davies, T. Wilson, T., Orchiston, C., Barth, N.C. (2015) Evaluation of coseismic landslide hazard on the proposed Haast-Hollyford Highway, South Island, New Zealand, Georisk, v. 10, 146-163, doi: 10.1080/17499518.2015.1077974

Stephens, S., MacKenzie, D., Barth, N.C., and D. Craw (2015) Links between orogenic and placer gold on the Old Man Range, Central Otago, New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Geology & Geophysics, v. 58, 296-312, doi: 10.1080/00288306.2015.1070181

Barth, N.C. (2014) Lidar reveals uniform Alpine fault offsets and bimodal plate boundary rupture behavior, New Zealand: COMMENT, Geology, doi: 10.1130/G35816C.1

Barth, N.C., D.K. Kulhanek, A.G. Beu, C.V. Murray-Wallace, B.W. Hayward, D.C. Mildenhall, and D.E. Lee (2014) New c. 270 kyr strike-slip and uplift rates for the southern Alpine Fault and implications for the New Zealand plate boundary, Journal of Structural Geology v. 64 39–52, doi: 10.1016/j.jsg.2013.08.009

Langridge, R.M., W.F. Ries, T. Farrier, N.C. Barth, N. Khajavi, and G.P. De Pascale (2014) Developing sub 5-m LiDAR DEMs for forested sections of the Alpine and Hope faults, South Island, New Zealand: Implications for structural interpretations, Journal of Structural Geology v. 64, 53–66, doi: 10.1016/j.jsg.2013.11.007

Barth, N.C., C. Boulton, B.M. Carpenter, G.E. Batt, and V.G. Toy (2013) Slip localization on the southern Alpine Fault, New Zealand, Tectonics v. 31, 1–21, doi: 10.1002/tect.20041

Barth, N.C. (2013) The Cascade rock avalanche: implications of a very large Alpine Fault-triggered failure, New Zealand, Landslides, 15 p., doi: 10.1007/s10346-013-0389-1

Barth, N.C., V.G. Toy, R.M. Langridge, and R.J. Norris (2012) Scale dependence of oblique plate-boundary partitioning: New insights from LiDAR, central Alpine fault, New Zealand, Lithosphere v. 4, no. 5, 435–448, doi: 10.1130/L201.1

Barth, N.C., B.R. Hacker, G.G.E. Seward, E.O. Walsh, D. Young, and S. Johnston (2010) Strain within the ultrahigh-pressure Western Gneiss region of Norway recorded by quartz CPOs, in Continental Tectonics and Mountain Building: the Legacy of Peach and Horne, Geological Society of London, Special Publications, v. 335, 663–685, doi: 10.1144/SP335.27

GEO 102A-B Summer Field Geology

GEO 122 Mineralogy

GEO 162 Geomorphology

GEO 249 Tectonic Geomorphology & Quaternary Field Methods

GEO 290 Modern Field & Visualization Methods


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