Baylor University
Department of Geosciences
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Dr. Steven L. Forman

Contact Information
Dr. Steven L. Forman
Department of Geology
Baylor University
One Bear Place #97354
Waco TX 76798

Phone (254) 710-2495
Fax (254) 710-2673

Room E437, Baylor Sciences Building

Steve Forman


Curriculum vitae


Quaternary geology and environments




Geoluminescence Dating Research Laboratory


B.S., University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana

Ph.D., University of Colorado-Boulder

Research Interests

My research interests are centered on gaining new understanding of the progression and mechanisms of environmental and climate change in the past 2 million years of Earth's history. Investigations are often collaborative, bridging multiple disciplines, and combine field interpretations and analytical measurements, with geophysical modeling. This approach underscores the importance of translating site-specific geomorphic or stratigraphic observations or measurements to regional and global contexts on various time scales. I see an endless horizon of exciting and significance science, much, if not all collaborative with students and colleagues from many continents. Outlined below are recent and future research directions. Also, I am open to explore new research directions with graduate students and interested students are welcome to contact me.

1. Paleorecords and paleoclimatology of Drought: Understanding the geologic record of droughts is important for evaluating recent climate change in the context of natural variability. Extensive deposits of wind-deposited sand and silt (loess) cover much of the conterminous U.S. and indicate substantial moisture variability during glacial and interglacial periods. Research has focused on defining stratigraphic sequences, securing reliable chronologies and understanding landscape-vegetation-climate feedbacks for aridity and subsequent recovery. This research has expanded to include field studies on the Pampas of Argentina, which is “the Great Plains" of South America and climatically linked by Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperatures. We are now asking questions to assess cross-hemispheric climate linkages for the 1930’s dust bowl drought and other dry periods in the past 5000 years.

Forman 1
Medanos Grande dunefield, W. Argentina

2. Anthropogenic impact on Earth surface processes and hydrology: Recent research underscores that human activity has significant and yet-to-be quantified impacts on surface processes and hydrology. We are accessing near surface fluvial and eolian stratigraphic records that span the past few centuries and millennia which reflect changes in vegetation cover, drainage density and landscape degradation. We are investigating the complex linkages between changes in climate, land utilization, groundwater level, and land degradation on sustainability of human-altered ecosystems.

Forman 2

3. African rift lakes and monsoon variability: A truly exciting research direction is the study of water level variability for Lake Turkana, Kenya in the past 150,000 years. The heart of research is a detailed sedimentologic, stratigraphic, and pedologic assessment coupled with high resolution dating by AMS 14C of ultra-small weight shells and novel application of luminescence dating for relict littoral and sublittoral deposits that ring the lake. This research documents multiple, centennial-scale 30+ meters swings in lake level between 15,000 and 3000 years ago reflecting state changes in the East and West African monsoons.

4. Andean to Atacama climate variability, southern Peru and northern Chile

A chance discovery in the northern Atacama Desert revealed a new 10’s m-thick record of eolian sand with multiple well-developed paleosols in southern coastal Peru. We hypothesis that this sequence reflects the alternating effect of two climate-sensitive moisture sources; eolian sourced from massive alluvial fans, feed from meltwater from glaciations of the Andes and the development of buried soils in response to greatly increased moisture flux from the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. The source of this moisture is unresolved but there are two likely sources, increased fog due to a persistent atmospheric inversion associated with Southeast Pacific Anticyclone or El Niño-like conditions or some combination of these sources. These important paleoclimatic records have been overlooked because of the remoteness of the field area and until recently chronologic control was elusive, but recent advances in luminescence dating of quartz are now providing credible ages.

5. Geochronologic Research: The accurate measuring of geologic time is a critical component in the earth sciences. A long-standing research focus is the development and application of luminescence geochronology to decipher the timing of late Quaternary (past 250 ka) climatic and environmental events, such as paleoearthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, lake level oscillations, fluvial degradation and aggradation, eolian deposition, burial of paleosurfaces, droughts and periods of human habitation. Analytical approaches employed include recent advances in optically stimulated luminescence using small aliquots of quartz and single grain dating. Recent research is tapping deeper trapped electrons in quartz and feldspar using the thermally-transferred signal which extend dating possibilities to 1 to 2 million years. The research horizons from the vantage point of luminescence physics is broad and deep, with recent collaborations on understanding the source of charge with triboluminescnce and electron storage potential for synthetic silica nano-compounds for solar cells.

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Waters, M.R. Forman, S. L. Jennings, T. A., Nordt, L. C., Driese, S. G., Feinberg, J. M., Keene, J. L.,

Halligan, J., Lindquist, A., Pierson, J., Hallmark, C. T., Collins, M. B. and Wiederhold, J. E., 2011. The Buttermilk Creek Complex and the Origins of Clovis at the Debra L. Friedkin Site, Texas. Science 331(6024), 1599-1603.

Wright, D., Forman, S. L., Waters, M. and Ravesloot, J., 2011. Holocene eolian activity as a proxy for broad-scale landscape change on the Gila River Indian Community, Arizona. Quaternary Research 76 (1), 10-21.

Wright, D. and Forman, S. L., 2011. Holocene occupation of the Mount Porr strand plain in southern Lake Turkana, Kenya. Nyame Akuma 76, 47-62.

Blumer, B. E., Arbogst, A. F. and Forman, S.L., 2012. The OSL chronology of eolian sand deposition in a perched dune field along the northwestern shore of Lower Michigan. Quaternary Research 77, 445-455.

Londono, A. C., Forman, S. L., Eichler, T. and Pierson, J. 2012. Episodic eolian deposition in the past ca. 50,000 years in the Alto Ilo dune field, southern Peru. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 346-347, 12-24.

Brown, N., Forman, S. L., 2012. Evaluating a SAR TT-OSL protocol for dating fine-grained quartz within Late Pleistocene loess deposits in the Missouri and Mississippi river valleys, United States. Quaternary Geochronology 12, 87-97.

Ahr, S. N., Nordt, L. and Forman, S. L., 2013. Soil genesis, optical dating, and geoarchaeological evaluation of two upland Alfisol pedons within the Tertiary Gulf Coastal Plain. Geoderma 192, 211-236.

Shanahan, T. M., Peck, J.A., Mckay, N., Heil, Jr, C. W., King, J., Forman, S.L. Hoffman, D., Overpeck, J. T., and Scholz, C. 2013. Age models for long lacustrine sediment records using multiple dating approaches - an example from Lake Bosumtwi, Ghana. Quaternary Geochronology 15, 47-60.

Johnston, J.W., Argyilan, E. P., Thompson, T.A., Baedke, S. J., Lepper, K. Wilcox. D. A. and Forman, S.L. 2013.A Sault-outlet-referenced mid- to late-Holocene paleohydrograph for Lake Superior constructed from strandplains of beach ridges. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 49, 1263-1279.

Meier, H. A., Nordt L. C., Forman, S. L., and Driese, S.G., 2013. Late Quaternary alluvial history of the middle Owl Creek drainage basin in central Texas: A record of geomorphic response to environmental change. Quaternary International 306. 24-41.

Tripaldi, A. Zárate, M.A., Forman, S.L., Badger, T. and Doyle. M.E., 2013.Drought episode in the western Pampas (Argentina, South America) during the early-mid 20th century: geological evidence, climatic pattern and paleoclimatic inferences. Holocene 23, 1729-1744.

Meier, H. A., Driese, S. G., Nordt, L. C., Forman, S.L. and Dworkin, S. I., 2014. Interpreation of Lake Quaternary climate and landscape variability based upon paleosol macro-and micromorphology, and stable isotopes of soil organic matter, Owl Creek, central Texas, Catena 114, 157-168.

Hoffecker, J. F., Holliday V. T., Stepanchuk, V. N., Brugère, A., Forman, S.L., Goldberg, P., Tubolzev, O., and Pisarev, I., 2014. Geoarchaeological and bioarchaeological studies at Mira, an early Upper Paleolithic site in the Lower Dnepr Valley, Ukraine. Geoarchaeology 29, 61-77.

Schaetzl, R. L., Forman, S.L., Attig, J. 2014. Optical ages on loess derived from outwash surfaces constrain Chippewa Lobe glacial history, Wisconsin, USA. Quaternary Research 81(2), 318-329.

Yang, S., Forman, S.L., Song, Y. Pierson, J., and Mazzocco J., Shi, Z. and Fang, X., 2014. Evaluating OSL-SAR protocols for dating quartz grains from the loess in Ili Basin, Central Asia. Quaternary Geochronology 20, 78-88.

Wright, D.K., Thompson, J., Mackay, A. Welling, M. Forman, S. L., Price, G. Cohen, A. Greaves, A. and Gomani-Chindebvu, E. 2014. Renewed geoarchaeological investigations of Mwanganda’s Village (Elephant Site), Karongo, Malawi. Geoarchaeology 29(2), 98-120.

Waitukaitus, S., Lee, V. Pierson, J. Forman, S.L., and Jaeger, H. M., 2014. Size-dependent, same-material tribicharging in insulating grains. Physical Review Letters 112(21), Doi 10.1103.

Forman, S.L., Tripaldi, A. Ciccioli, P.L. 2014. Sand sheet deposition in the San Luis paleodune field, western Argentina as an indicator of a semi-arid environment through the Holocene. Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 411, 122-135.

Forman, S.L., Wright, D.W and Blozsies, C., 2014.Variations in Lake Turkana water levels in the past 9000 years near Mt. Porr, Kenya and potential linkages to variability in the East African Monsoon. Quaternary Science Reviews 97, 84-101.

Vargas, G., Klinger, Y., Rockwell, T. Forman, S.L., Rebolledo, S., Lacassin, R., and Armijo, R., (in press) Potential for a large earthquake rupture of the West Andean Thrust in Santiago, Chile. Geology.

Bloszies, C., Forman, S.L. (in press) Potential controls of equatorial sea surface temperatures on historic water level variability for Lake Turkana, Kenya. Journal of Hydrology.