Professor Alexander Densmore
I'm interested in the way in which mountains are built through tectonic activity, and in the erosional processes that tear them back down again. The spark behind much of this work came from growing up on the tectonically-active west coast of North America. I received a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and held lectureships at Trinity College Dublin and ETH Zurich before joining Durham University in 2006. My current research projects include aspects of tectonic geomorphology in the western USA and southwestern China; efforts to understand sediment routing systems both in the field (northern India) and through numerical modelling; and work on the role of mass wasting - particularly landslides and debris flows - in shaping mountain belts like the Swiss Alps.
Journal papers: academic
- Shi, F., He, H., Densmore, A.L., Li, A., Yang, X. & Xu, X. Active tectonics of the Ganzi-Yushu fault in the southeastern Tibetan Plateau. Tectonophysics. 2016;676:112-124.
- Li, G., West, A.J., Densmore, A.L., Hammond, D.E., Jin, Z., Zhang, F., Wang, J. & Hilton, R.G. Connectivity of earthquake-triggered landslides with the fluvial network: implications for landslide sediment transport after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. 2016;121:703-724.
- Wang, J., Jin, Z., Hilton, R.G., Zhang, F., Li, G., Densmore, A. L., Gröcke, D. R., Xu, X. & West, A. J. Earthquake-triggered increase in biospheric carbon export from a mountain belt. Geology. 2016;44:471-474.
- van Dijk, W., Densmore, A.L., Singh, A., Gupta, S., Sinha, R., Mason, P.J., Joshi, S.K., Nayak, N., Kumar, M., Shekhar, S., Kumar, D. & Rai, S.P. Linking the morphology of fluvial fan systems to aquifer stratigraphy in the Sutlej-Yamuna plain of northwest India. Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. 2016;121:201-222.
- Densmore, A.L., Sinha, R., Sinha, S., Tandon, S.K. & Jain, V. Sediment storage and release from Himalayan piggyback basins and implications for downstream river morphology and evolution. Basin Research. 2016;28:446-461.
- Wang, J., Jin, Z., Hilton, R.G., Zhang, F., Densmore, A.L., Li, G. & West, A.J. Controls on fluvial evacuation of sediment from earthquake-triggered landslides. Geology. 2015;43:115-118.
- Parker, R.N., Hancox, G.T., Petley, D.N., Massey, C.I., Densmore, A.L. & Rosser, N.J. Spatial distributions of earthquake-induced landslides and hillslope preconditioning in northwest South Island, New Zealand. Earth Surface Dynamics. 2015;3:501-525.
- Sanyal, J., Densmore, A.L. & Carbonneau, P. 2D finite element inundation modelling in anabranching channels with sparse data: examination of uncertainties. Water Resources Management. 2014;28:2351-2366.
- Milledge, D.G., Bellugi, D., McKean, J., Densmore, A.L. & Dietrich, W.E. A multi-dimensional stability model for predicting shallow landslide size and shape across landscapes. Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. 2014;119:2481–2504.
- Sanyal, J., Densmore, A.L. & Carbonneau, P. Analysing the effect of land use/cover changes at sub-catchment levels on downstream flood peaks: a semi-distributed modelling approach with sparse data. Catena. 2014;118:28-40.
- West, A. J., Hetzel, R., Li, G., Jin, Z., Zhang, F., Hilton, R. G. & Densmore, A. L. Dilution of 10Be in detrital quartz by earthquake-induced landslides: Implications for determining denudation rates and potential to provide insights into landslide sediment dynamics. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 2014;396:143-153.
- Li, G., West, A. J., Densmore, A. L., Jin, Z., Parker, R. N. & Hilton, R. G. Seismic mountain building: Landslides associated with the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in the context of a generalized model for earthquake volume balance. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. 2014;15:833–844.
- Sanyal, J., Carbonneau, P. & Densmore, A.L. Hydraulic routing of extreme floods in a large ungauged river and the estimation of associated uncertainties: a case study of the Damodar River, India. Natural Hazards. 2013;66:1153-1177.
- Hillman, S.E., Horwell, C.J., Densmore, A.L., Damby, D.E., Fubini, B., Ishimine, Y. & Tomatis, M. Sakurajima volcano: a physico-chemical study of the health consequences of long-term exposure to volcanic ash. Bulletin of Volcanology. 2012;74:913-930.
- Leduc, A.M., Davies, R.J., Densmore, A.L. & Imber, J. The lateral strike-slip domain in gravitational detachment delta systems: a case study of the northwestern margin of the Niger Delta. AAPG Bulletin. 2012;96:709-728.
- Schürch, P., Densmore, A.L., Rosser, N.J., Lim, M. & McArdell, B. Detection of surface change in complex topography using terrestrial laser scanning: application to the Illgraben debris-flow channel. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 2011;36:1847-1859.
- Schürch, P., Densmore, A.L., Rosser, N.J. & McArdell, B.W. Dynamic controls on erosion and deposition on debris-flow fans. Geology. 2011;39:827-830.
- Barnes, J.B., Densmore, A.L., Mukul, M., Sinha, R., Jain, V. & Tandon, S. K. Interplay between faulting and base level in the development of Himalayan frontal fold topography. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. 2011;116:F03012.
- Parker, R.N., Densmore, A.L., Rosser, N.J., de Michele, M., Li, Y., Huang, R., Whadcoat, S. & Petley, D.N. Mass wasting triggered by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake is greater than orogenic growth. Nature Geoscience. 2011;4:449-452.
- Richardson, N.J., Densmore, A.L., Seward, D., Wipf, M. & Li, Y. Did incision of the Three Gorges begin in the Eocene?. Geology. 2010;38:551-554.
- Korup, O., Densmore, A.L. & Schlunegger, F. The role of landslides in mountain range evolution. Geomorphology. 2010;120:77-90.
- Densmore, A.L., Li, Y., Richardson, N.J., Zhou, R., Ellis, M. & Zhang, Y. The role of late Quaternary upper-crustal faults in the 12 May 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 2010;100:2700-2712.
- Densmore, A.L., Hetzel, R., Ivy-Ochs, S., Krugh, W.C., Dawers, N. & Kubik, P. Spatial variations in catchment-averaged denudation rates from normal fault footwalls. Geology. 2009;37:1139-1142.
- Dühnforth, M., Densmore, A.L., Ivy-Ochs, S. & Allen, P.A. Controls on sediment evacuation from glacially modified and unmodified catchments in the eastern Sierra Nevada, California. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 2008;33:1602-1613.
- Richardson, N.J., Densmore, A.L., Seward, D., Wipf, M., Li, Y., Ellis, M.A. & Zhang, Y. Extraordinary denudation in the Sichuan Basin: insights from low-temperature thermochronology adjacent to the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Geophysical Research. 2008;113:B04409.
- Densmore, A.L., Ellis, M.A., Li, Y., Zhou, R., Hancock, G.S. & Richardson, N. Active tectonics of the Beichuan and Pengguan faults at the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Tectonics. 2007;26:TC4005.
- Densmore, A.L., Allen, P.A. & Simpson, G. Development and response of a coupled catchment fan system under changing tectonic and climatic forcing. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. 2007;112:F01002.
- Hampel, A., Hetzel, R. & Densmore, A.L. Postglacial slip-rate increase on the Teton normal fault, northern Basin and Range Province, caused by melting of Yellowstone ice cap and deglaciation of the Teton Range? Geology. 2007;35:1107-1110.
- Dühnforth, M., Densmore, A.L., Ivy-Ochs, S., Allen, P.A. & Kubik, P.W. Timing and patterns of debris flow deposition on Shepherd and Symmes Creek fans, Owens Valley, California, deduced from cosmogenic 10Be. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. 2007;112:F03S15.
- Densmore, A. L., Gupta, S., Allen, P. A. & Dawers, N. H. Transient landscapes at fault tips. Journal of Geophysical Research earth surface. 2007;112:F03S08.
- Schuerch, P., Densmore, A. L., McArdell, B. & Molnar, P. The influence of landsliding on sediment supply and channel change in a steep mountain catchment. Geomorphology. 2006;78:222-235.
- Densmore, A. L., Dawers, N. H., Gupta, S. & Guidon, R. What sets topographic relief in extensional footwalls?. Geology. 2005;33:453-456.
- Cunningham, M. J. M., Phillips, W. E. A. & Densmore, A. L. Evidence for Cenozoic tectonic deformation in SE Ireland and near offshore. Tectonics. 2004;23:TC6002.
- Densmore, A.L., Dawers, N.H., Gupta, S., Guidon, R. & Goldin, T. Footwall topographic development during continental extension. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. 2004;109:F03001.
- Cunningham, M.J.M., Densmore, A.L., Allen, P.A. Phillips, W.E.A., Bennett, S.D., Gallagher, K. & Carter, A. Evidence for post-early Eocene tectonic activity in southeastern Ireland. Geological Magazine. 2003;140:101-118.
- Li, Y., Allen, P.A., Densmore, A.L. & Xu, Q. Evolution of the Longmen Shan Foreland Basin (Western Sichuan, China) during the Late Triassic Indosinian Orogeny. Basin Research. 2003;15:117-138.
- Densmore, A.L., Dawers, N.H., Gupta, S., Allen, P.A. & Gilpin, R. Landscape evolution at extensional relay zones. Journal of Geophysical Research - Solid Earth. 2003;108:2273.
- Allen, P. A. & Densmore, A. L. Sediment flux from an uplifting fault block. Basin Research. 2000;12:367-380.
- Densmore, A. L. & Hovius, N. Topographic fingerprints of bedrock landslides. Geology. 2000;28:371-374.
- Ellis, M. A., Densmore, A. L. & Anderson, R. S. Development of mountainous topography in the Basin Ranges, U.S.A. Basin Research. 1999;11:21-41.
- Anderson, R. S., Densmore, A. L. & Ellis, M. A. The generation and degradation of marine terraces. Basin Research. 1999;11:7-19.
- Densmore, A. L., Ellis, M. A. & Anderson, R. S. Landsliding and the evolution of normal fault-bounded mountains. Journal of Geophysical Research - Solid Earth. 1998;103:15203-15219.
- Densmore, A. L., Anderson, R. S., McAdoo, B. G. & Ellis, M. A. Hillslope evolution by bedrock landslides. Science. 1997;275:369-372.
- Densmore, A. L. & Anderson, R. S. Tectonic geomorphology of the Ash Hill fault, Panamint Valley, California. Basin Research. 1997;9:53-63.
- Ellis, M. A. & Densmore, A. L. First-order topography over blind thrusts. In: Willett, S., Hovius, N., Fisher, D. & Brandon, M. Tectonics, Climate and Landscape Evolution. Boulder, Colorado: Geological Society of America; 2006:251-266.
- Allen, P.A., Bennett, S.D., Cunningham, M.J.M., Carter, A., Gallagher, K., Lazzaretti, E., Galewsky, J., Densmore, A.L., Phillips, W.E.A., Naylor, D. & Solla Hach, C. The post-Variscan thermal and denudational history of Ireland. In: Dor鬠A., Cartwright, J., Stoker, M., Turner, J. & White, N. Exhumation of the North Atlantic Margin: Timing, Mechanisms and Implications for Petroleum Exploration. Geological Society of London Special Publications; 2002:371-399.
Essays in edited volumes
- Ivy-Ochs, S., Duehnforth, M., Densmore, A.L. & Alfimov, V. Dating fan deposits with cosmogenic radionuclides. In: Schneuwly-Bollschweiler, M., Stoffel, M. & Rudolf-Miklau, F. Dating Torrential Processes on Fans and Cones. Springer; 2013:243-263.
Other publications: research
- Oven, K.J., Milledge, D.G., Densmore, A.L., Jones, H., Sargeant, S. & Datta, A. Earthquake science in DRR policy and practice in Nepal. 2016;10450.
Available for media contact about:
- Tectonics: Earthquakes
- Geological hazards: Earthquakes
- The Earth: Rocks & natural forces: Earthquakes
- Landscape systems: Landslides and debris flows
- Geological hazards: Landslides and debris flows
- The Earth: Rocks & natural forces: Landslides and debris flows
- 2014: Durham International Fellowships for research and Enterprise - DIFeREns (£23434.59 from European Commission)
- 2012: Earthquakes without frontiers: a partnership for increasing resilience to seismic hazard in the continents (£658030.50 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
- 2012: The structure and dynamics of groundwater systems in north-western India under past, present and future climates (£183558.80 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
- 2010: Building rural resilience in seismically active regions (£22573.86 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
- 2009: Rapid assessment of sediment dynamics on an active debris-flow fan (£27604.27 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)
- 2008: RIVER DYNAMICS AND HAZARD ASSESSMENT (£51007.76 from British Council)
- 2008: SURFACE RUPTURE (£19632.44 from NERC - Natural Environment Research Council)