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Dr. Nathan Hopkins

Assistant Professor


Research Interests
I am interested in the physical processes and dynamics of sediment transport systems, particularly in both past and present glacial and periglacial environments. At present, approximately 10% of land area of Earth is covered by ice in the form of glaciers and ice sheets, and many of today’s glaciers reside in sparsely populated alpine and polar regions. However, these ice bodies contain approximately 70% of the earth's total freshwater, and are considered among the most effective agents of sediment transport. At the height of Pleistocene glaciation the extent of glaciers and ice sheets was approximately three-times larger than present as a result of the expansion of alpine glaciers and the rise of continental ice sheets. These ancient ice bodies profoundly altered the landscape, and their legacy is preserved in the landforms, sediments, and hydrology.

I am actively developing projects in the upper Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions to study both ancient and modern landscapes, evaluate the processes and pathways of sediment transport in these environments, and establish linkages between observable processes and the morphologic and sedimentary records. My approach to these systems integrates traditional field methods, sedimentology, geospatial analysis, remote sensing, and geodesy. The primary advanced methods I employ include anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR). AMS is a powerful, laboratory-based magnetic method to evaluate grain orientation and strain within sediments, while InSAR utilizes satellite-derived radar images to determine millimeter-scale displacements of the earth surface associated with active processes. In the near future, I will develop the capability of UAV photogrammetry for the purpose of high-resolution mapping of surficial sediments and landforms, as well as to measure displacement associated with active surficial processes.

Active and Potential Future Projects:

  1. Distribution of deformation within the basal zone of the Matanuska Glacier, Alaska.
  2. Subglacial landsystems of North Dakota – Glacial history and subglacial processes through mapping, photogrammetry, and sedimentological analysis.
  3. Periglacial sediment transport via Rock Glaciers in the Rocky Mountains
  4. Active processes in North Dakota – fluvial and hillslope dynamics, mass-wasting, etc.

About Me
I am a broadly-trained geologist with a passion for field experience, teaching, and undergraduate research. I can think of no more rewarding profession than that of geologist, as it allows you to see the world from a unique perspective that is full of questions, answers, and often, more questions. My interest in geology stems from the life-long interest in the outdoors, from my childhood in SE Missouri to my graduate education in eastern Pennsylvania. That interest has taken me to some spectacular locations around the globe, including Argentina, Alaska, Sweden, and China. When not pondering about geology in the office or working with students, you can likely find me hiking (still pondering geology), camping, occasionally fishing, watching baseball, or spending time with my wife and the dog.


2016 PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University
Magnetic till fabric – applications of anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility to subglacial deformation of till and ice

2011 B.S in Geological Sciences, University of Missouri
Thesis: Interferometric synthetic aperture radar analysis of North American periglacial phenomena


Hopkins, N. R., Kleman, J., Evenson, E. B. & Kodama, K. P. in review: An anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) fabric record of ice flow and till kinematics within a late Weichselian low Baltic till, southern Sweden. Boreas.

Larson, G. J., Menzies, J., Lawson, D. E., Evenson, E. B. & Hopkins, N. R. 2016: Macro- and micro-sedimentology of a modern melt-out till – Matanuska Glacier, Alaska, USA. Boreas 45 (2), 235-251.

Hopkins, N. R., Evenson, E. B., Kodama, K. P. & Kozlowski, A. 2016: An anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) investigation of the till fabric of drumlins: Support for an accretionary origin. Boreas 45(1), 100-108.

Hopkins, N. R. 2013: Surficial geology of the Cato Quadrangle, New York. New York State Museum Map & Chart Series Number 60.

Conference Presentations (first author)

Hopkins, N. R., Evenson, E. B., Stachnik, J., Berti, C., Lawson, D. E., Larson, G. J. & Kodama, K. P. 2015: Magnetic fabric of stratified basal ice: Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. Geological Society of America, Baltimore, MD.

Hopkins, N. R., Evenson, E. B., Kleman, J., & Kodama, K. 2015: Bed Deformation beneath the Baltic Ice Steam, Southern Sweden: Implications for the evolution of the marginal subglacial system beneath short-lived, episodic ice streams. American Geophysical Union Joint Assembly, Montreal, Canada.

Hopkins, N. R., Evenson, E. B., Kleman, J., Geist, C., Larson, G., & Kodama, K. P. 2014: Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility Till Fabrics and the late glacial behavior of the Baltic Ice Stream in southern Sweden. Geological Society of America, Vancouver, Canada.

Hopkins, N. R., Evenson, E. B., Kodama, K. P., & Kozlowski, A. 2014:Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility Till Fabrics and the accretionary origin of Drumlins in New York State. Geological Society of America, Vancouver, Canada.

Hopkins, N. R., Evenson, E. B., Kodama, K. P., & Kozlowski, A. 2014: Subglacial Sediment Transport and Drumlin Genesis: Insights from Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility Till Fabrics. Geological Society of America, NE Section, Lancaster, PA.

Hopkins, N. R., Berti, C., Ramage, J., Evenson, E. B., & Meglioli, A. 2013: A Satellite View of Andean Rock Glaciers: Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) Analysis of Rock Glacier Flow Kinematics. Geological Society of America, Denver, CO.

Hopkins, N. R., Evenson, E. B., Kodama, K. P., Kozlowski, A., & Gentoso, M. 2012: The Evolution of Till Fabrics and Their Implications For Subglacial Deformation and Landform Genesis. Geological Society of America, Charlotte, NC.

Hopkins, N. R., & Gomez, F. G. 2010: InSAR Analysis of North American Periglacial Phenomena.  American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA.