Seminar Series

2020 GSNZ Hochstetter Lecture - How tectonic and surface processes interact to shape the landscape


Phaedra Upton


GNS Science

Time & Place

Wed, 29 Jul 2020 17:30:18 NZST in BT 111


The landscape serves as a link between the solid Earth and the atmosphere. At many spatial and temporal scales, landscape morphology and topography provide a constraint on the tectonics of the Earth and processes active within it. To unravel these, we need to understand the complex relationships between surface processes, their drivers and the rocks upon which they act. I will explore recent developments in modelling tectonics and surface processes within a single deformational framework. I will focus on collisional settings such as New Zealand’s Southern Alps, SE Alaska and the Himalaya where rapid uplift combines with vigorous climate regimes to create dynamic landscapes.


The Hochstetter Lecturer is awarded to an Earth scientist who is undertaking or who has recently completed a major and as yet unpublished study, and who has a reputation as a good, informative speaker. Emphasis should be on the dissemination of new concepts or techniques, and/or of important new information which modifies existing interpretations. The topic should be of interest to both a professional and amateur audience.

This year’s Hochstetter Lecturer, Phaedra Upton is the Geodynamics Team Leader at GNS Science, where she has worked for the last 11 years and is well known to the Earth Science community in New Zealand.  She graduated with a PhD from Otago University in 1995. Her thesis presented data and models of how the Southern Alps are being formed.

Since then, she has amassed more than 25 years of published work on the subject.  Phaedra is one of the rare modellers who brings practical and sensible numerical modelling approaches to a wide range of Earth Science topics, from large scale processes in the deep crust through to surface processes of active erosion and sedimentation.  She is adept at using these models in collaboration with geologists from a range of subdisciplines to produce insights into the various processes and time scales involved.

Phaedra is currently working on an invited paper for Geomorphology which will address challenges and new approaches for modelling landscape evolution.  This will form the basis of her talk.