Don Barber

Associate Professor of Geology on the Harold Alderfer Chair in Environmental Studies
Don Barber headshot


Phone 610-526-5110
Location Park 367
Office Hours
Please email to set up a meeting time.


Areas of Focus

Sedimentology, geochemistry and geomorphology — applied in coastal environments to address questions of sea-level rise, climate change, sustainability and resilience. 


Geological Research

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 10,000 years.  My research addresses processes on timescales ranging from the hours-long storm surge of a landfalling hurricane, to centuries-long climate oscillations such as the Medieval Climate Anomaly.  I use geochemical tracers and other techniques to study the sources, transport and accumulation rates of sediments and pollutants in marine environments. 

In coastal and shelf settings, one facet of my research constrains sea-level change; another facet aims to evaluate the role of salt marshes in carbon cycling.  I also conduct research on the stability of beaches and sand dunes in the face of rising sea level and extreme storms, both of which are being exacerbated by climate change.  

Selected Publications

Walker, Jennifer. S., R.E. Kopp, T.A. Shaw, Niamh Cahill, Nicole S. Khan, D.C. Barber, M.J. Brain, Jennifer Clear, D.R. Corbett, B.P. Horton, 2021. Common Era sea-level budgets along the US Atlantic coast. Nature Communications 12, 1841.

Charbonneau, Bianca R., Stephanie M. Dohner, J.P. Wnek, D.C. Barber, Phoebe Zarnetske, Brenda B. Casper, 2021. Vegetation effects on coastal foredune initiation: Wind tunnel experiments and field validation for three dune-building plants. Geomorphology 107594.

Kemp, A.C., Jessica J. Kegel, S.J. Culver, D.C. Barber, D. Mallinson, E. Leorri, C.E. Bernhardt, Niamh Cahill, S.R. Riggs, Anna Lee Woodson, R. Mulligan and B.P. Horton, 2017. An extended late Holocene relative sea-level history for North Carolina, USA. Quaternary Science Reviews 160, 13-30.

Morris, J.T., D.C. Barber, J. Callaway, R. Chambers, S.C. Hagen, C.S. Hopkinson, Beverly J. Johnson, P. Megonigal, S.C. Neubauer, Tiffany Troxler, Cathleen Wigand, 2016. Contributions of organic and inorganic matter to sediment volume and accretion in tidal wetlands at steady state. Earth’s Future  4, 110-121.

Nebel, Stephanie H., A.C. Trembanis and D.C. Barber, 2013. Tropical cyclone frequency and barrier island erosion rates, Cedar Island, Virginia. Journal of Coastal Research 29, 133–144.

Andrews, J.T., D.C. Barber, Anne E. Jennings, D.D. Eberl, B. MacLean, M.E. Kirby and J.S. Stoner, 2012. Varying sediment sources to the NW Labrador Sea slope between and during Heinrich events 0 to 4. Journal of Quaternary Science 27, 475-484