Bruce Harrison

Why I became a scientist
Bruce Harrison
Associate Professor of Geology
Dept of Earth & Environmental Science
New Mexico Tech
801 Leroy Place; Socorro, NM 87801

Office: MSEC 342
Phone: (575) 835-5864
Fax: (575) 835-6436
Email: bruce at

B Agr Sci, M Agr Sci, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
PhD University of New Mexico (1992)

Soils are a product of surficial weathering processes and consequently cover most of the continental surface. Climatic and geomorphic processes play a significant role in determining soil properties and the distribution of soils across a landscape, especially during the Quaternary. Thus there is an imprint of these processes within a soil profile and in soil landscapes. For example, as soil characteristics change with time, it is possible to use soil properties to provide an estimate of the age of a soil landscape. Soils have been used in numerous studies to identify episodes of erosion and deposition, to determine the frequency of floods, landslides, glacial activity, and to determine the recurrence interval of earthquakes. There is also a strong climatic imprint in soils, and they are currently being used to determine the extent of previous climatic changes and to predict the possible consequences of future climatic fluctuations.

The ubiquitous nature and the strong environmental imprint in soils means that soils can be used to study a wide range of surface processes. Currently my research interests are focused in three areas: the role of soils in moderating hydrologic processes in arid environments, the use of soils to determine activity of faults in arid environments, and in geoarcheology.