Climatic Geomorphology

Rock Glaciers in the High Andes

With newly instated Argentine laws protecting many icy landscapes, there is a great impetus to identify relict vs. active ice-cored landforms. As part of a multi-university collaborative effort, UD researchers and students provide non-invasive analyses of landform movements using differential terrestrial-laser-scanner models. These data are complemented with other methods of detecting surface movement based on GPS and remote sensing techniques. When all surface movement data are coupled with our temperature data from a network of 60 sensors in the shallow ground, we will develop maps relating the distribution of discontinuous permafrost, a key dataset necessary to separate active vs. relict forms.

Lichenometric Dating of Glacial Landforms

Over the last few decades, lichenometric dating techniques have been used widely to determine the exposure ages of many rocky surfaces. Ongoing research in the Cascade Ranges has yielded new insights into the growth rate of Rhizocarpon geographicum lichens, ultimately improving our ability to date recently deposited glacial landforms in this region. Where many past projects have been in the development and refinement of the growth curve, ongoing research is now focused on reinterpreting many landform ages throughout the northern Cascade Range.

O'Neal, M. A., Legg, N. T., Hanson, B., Morgan, D. J., & Rothgeb, A. (2013). Lichenometric Dating of Rock Surfaces in the Northern Cascade Range, USA (vol 95, pg 241, 2013). Geografiska Annaler Seris A, 95(4), 371-371.

O'Neal, M. A. (2010). Identifying lichenometrically datable, glacierized terrains: a case study in the cascade range of western North America. Geocarto International, 25(4), 315-325.

O’Neal, M. A. (2006). The effects of slope degradation on lichenometric dating of Little Ice Age moraines. Quaternary Geochronology, 1(2), 121-128.

O'Neal, M. A., & Schoenenberger, K. R. (2003). A Rhizocarpon geographicum growth curve for the Cascade Range of Washington and northern Oregon, USA. Quaternary Research, 60(2), 233-241.

Climate Landscape Interaction in the northern Cascade Range

Roe and O’Neal, tree cover manuscripts, Several tree cores dating back to the mid 19th century were collected from Mountain Hemlocks growing at ca. 1700 m elevation adjacent to the Easton Glacier in the northern Cascade Range, Washington. Climate proxy records are being developed by measuring ring widths, followed by detrending the data with a cubic spline method. Preliminary analyses of the resulting ring-width series showed a noisy but significant positive correlation with PDO-like climate patterns, which is known to have an effect on local glacier mass balances throughout the study region.  Our ongoing work will focus on expanding our current dataset to evaluate the mass balance of Easton Glacier to the mid 19th century.

Featured Faculty

Michael O'Neal

Michael O'Neal picture

Professor Geological Sciences


CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

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Geography: 302-831-2294 • Geology: 302-831-2569 • Marine Science and Policy: 302-645-4212 • E-mail:

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