Contact Us
Department of Geology
Bryn Mawr College
101 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Phone: (610) 526-7392
Fax: (610) 526-5086

Don Barber

Don Barber in Central California

Associate Professor of Geology on the Harold Alderfer Chair in Environmental Studies
Contact Information:

Bryn Mawr College

Department of Geology

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Office Location: 132 Park Science Building

Phone: (610)526-5110

Fax: (610)526-5086

email: dbarber(at)

Fields of Study:

Sedimentology, Geochemistry and Near-surface Geophysics-- applied to Quaternary paleoclimatology, sea-level change, coastal geomorphology and geoarchaeology.

Research Interests:

As a marine sedimentologist, I generally focus on sand and mud as opposed to rocks, and I deal with the relatively recent part of Earth history, i.e., the last 150,000 years.  My work may address processes with timescales as short as a tidal cycle, a 2-day storm, or the month-long spring freshet of a river, as well as the 10,000-year long termination of the last ice age.  I study the sources, transport and depositional patterns of Quaternary sediments in coastal and deep marine environments.  In coastal and shelf settings, one facet of this work constrains regional relative sea-level change. I also try to estimate the stability of the present sediment deposits and landforms. For example, are coastal dunes growing, shrinking or staying the same, and why?

One tool for tracing materials back to a geological source involves analyzing the geochemical and isotopic signatures of the materials. I have analyzed geochemical sediment tracers (radiogenic isotopes and trace element abundances) to track the provenance of sediments eroded and transported by the Laurentide Ice Sheet. These sediments were deposited in the Labrador Sea during the last ice age (Farmer et al., 2003; Benson et al. 2003).  In addition to using this technique for sedimentological and paleoenvironmental questions, I have collaborated with archaeologists to discern the geochemical provenance of cultural artifacts such as potsherds and carved softstone (Magee et al., 2005) using rare-earth element abundance patterns.

Five Selected Publications:

Magee, P., H.-P. Uerpmann, M. Uerpmann, S.A. Jasim, M. Handel, D.C. Barber, C. Fritz and E. Hammer, 2009. Multidisciplinary research on the past human ecology of the east Arabian coast: excavations at Hamriya and Tel Abraq (Emirate of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates). Arabian Archaeology & Epigraphy. 20, 18-29.

Alley, R.B., J.T. Andrews, D.C. Barber, P.U. Clark, 2005.  Why an ice shelf for Heinrich events? Comment on “Catastrophic ice shelf breakup as the source of Heinrich event icebergs” by C.L. Hulbe et al. Paleoceanography 20, PA1009, doi: 10.1029/2004PA001086

Kelley, J.T., D.C. Barber, D.F. Belknap, D.M. FitzGerald, S. van Heteren, S.M. Dickson, 2005. Sand budgets at geological, historical and contemporary time scales for a developed beach system, Saco Bay, Maine, USA. Marine Geology, 214, 117–142.

Farmer, G.L., D.C. Barber, J.T. Andrews, 2003. Nd, Sr and Pb isotopic compositions of late Quaternary ice proximal sediments in the northern North Atlantic. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 209, 227-243.

Barber, D.C.
, A. Dyke, C. Hillaire-Marcel, A.E. Jennings, J.T. Andrews, M.W. Kerwin, G. Bilodeau, R. McNeely, J. Southon, M.D. Morehead, J.-M. Gagnon,  1999. Forcing of the cold event 8200 years ago by outburst drainage of Laurentide lakes.  Nature , 400, 344-348.