• dorothy merritts
Harry W. & Mary B. Huffnagle Professor of Geosciences, Chair of Earth and Environment
Earth and Environment



Office: HAC100


Recipient of the Association of Women Geoscientists' Outstanding Educator Award, 2006

Dorothy Merritts (B.Sc. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, M.Sc. Stanford University, Ph.D. University of Arizona) is a geologist with expertise in streams, rivers, and other landforms, and on the impact of humans and geologic hazards on landscape evolution.  In the western United States, she conducted pioneering research on the San Andreas fault of coastal California, and her international work focuses on fault movements in South Korea, Indonesia, Australia, and Costa Rica. Her primary research in the eastern United States is in the Appalachian Piedmont, particularly in southeastern Pennsylvania, where she is investigating the role of human activities in transforming the woodland and wetland forests of Eastern North America to a predominantly agricultural and mixed-industrial/urban landscape since European settlement.  She is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and in 2004-2005 she was the Flora Stone Mather Visiting Distinguished Professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  She is the author of two textbooks and more than 40 scientific articles, and the editor and contributing writer for numerous scientific books.

Teaching: Geomorphology, hydrology and environmental geology.

Research Interests: Focuses on geomorphology, surface water hydrology, and Quaternary tectonics. Specific research interests in sea-level change and the development of marine terraces, fluvial terraces, environmental change and geomorphic response to changes in base-level. Collaborative research in mathematics, geosciences, and computing includes statistical analysis of digitized topographic data in areas of active seismicity.

Articles and Field Guides:

  • Annual Conference of Pennsylvania Field Geologists Field Guide, Mount Holly Springs breached mill-pond, September 25, 2008.  [PDF, 2.4 MB]
  • Other articles and field guides can be accessed from vita.


  • Bank Erosion and Nutrient Loads from Legacy Sediment, Presentation to the Legacy Sediment Workgroup, November 19th, 2009. [PowerPoint, 48 MB;PDF, 14.5 MB]


  • images-departments-earth-dsc_4463_500-jpg

Dorothy Merritts surveying the pre-settlement wetland (just beneath the water surface) buried beneath historic millpond sediment (eroding banks) along Great Seneca Creek upstream of Watkins Mill and milldam, in the Seneca Creek Stream Valley Park, MD.