Raymond "Bud" Burke

Professor Emeritus


Specialty Area

Quaternary stratigraphy, soils, geomorphology


Ph.D, Geology, University of Colorado, 1979
M.S., Geology, Western Washington University, 1972
B.A., Geology, Western Washington University, 1968


Quaternary stratigraphy studies have dominated the past two decades of my professional career. In particular, my interests and participation in research projects have involved the rates of weathering and soil development in chronosequence and catena studies, including physical and chemical variations. These studies have been designed to help refine the semi-quantitative dating tool of soil development. An effort has been made to evaluate the age factor of soils in varying climatic, parent material, and slope positions, with an emphasis on application to climatic and tectonic studies. The primary objects of these stratigraphic studies have been glacial and glacio-fluvial deposits, along with tectonically broken surfaces, within the western U. S., Alaska, New Zealand, and central Asia (Xinjiang province in China, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia.) Field data, laboratory data, and modeling of remotely sensed spectral data are all proving useful as correlation tools.

Glacial deposits (tills, outwash terraces, and alluvial fans), pluvial deposits, and associated paleoclimatic records have been the recent focus of studies by myself and/or my students in the Sierra Nevada/Owens Valley, the Cascades, southeastern Oregon, eastern Nevada, northwestern California, New Zealand, and Mongolia.

In terms of pedogenic processes, my students and I have been most recently concentrating on evaluating the rates of addition of the eolian component to the weathering product. We are looking at the mineral/chemical signal from soils formed in eolian deposits superimposed on a unique substrate. The application of soils to tectonic studies has been an important part of my efforts over the past decade as we tried to evaluate the displacement history, recurrence intervals, and timing of the latest movement events along the Cascadia subduction zone, the Valdez-Kodiak segment of the Alaskan plate boundary, the northern portion of the San Andreas transpressional system, and the complex plate boundary in the northern portion of the South Island of New Zealand. In addition, the use of soil chronosequences has proven extremely valuable as an age estimate along major faults in central Asia where our efforts to apply cosmogenic age control has been hampered by salt weathering.

Our work with soils as a dating tool has been greatly aided by the acceptance of the profile development index (PDI) which allows a numerical estimate of the soil age from soil properties described in the field. Within the past few months, age estimates based upon PDIs from our work in China and along the range front of the Sierra Nevada, California have been supported by laboratory ages based upon radiometric and cosmogenic techniques. Recent work with PDIs on terraces (marine and fluvial) along the northwest coast of California produced age estimates which were subsequently shown to be close to numerical ages produced by thermoluminescence, paleomagnetic, and radiometric techniques. The work out of Humboldt has helped with the gradual acceptance of soil development and the numerical PDI as a geologic dating and correlation tool.


Bacon, S. N., Burke, R.M., Goldstein, H.L., Tillinghast, S.F., and Van Dissen, R.J., 2000, Reconnaissance investigation of glacial features in the Inland Kaikoura Range, New Zealand: implications for paleo-ELA estimates and paleoclimate, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, in press.
Zehfuss, P. H., Bierman, P., Gillespie, A., Burke, R., Caffee, M., 2000, 10Be and 26Al ages used to calculate slip rates and soil development rates at the Fish Springs fault, Owens Valley, California. Accepted to Geological Society of America Bulletin (in press).
Gillespie, A.R., Clark, M.M., and Burke, R.M., 1999, Mountains shaped by Ice - A review of: Pleistocene Glaciation in the Sierra Nevada and Basin Ranges by Eliot Blackwelder (GSA Bulletin 42, 865-922, 1931), in Moores, E. M., Sloan, D., and Stout, D. L., (eds.) Classic Cordilleran Concepts: A view from California, Geological Society of America Special Paper 338, p. 441-451.
Narwold, C., and Burke, R.M., 1999, Quaternary Geology of the Northern Quinn River and Alvord Valleys, Southeastern Oregon: Guidebook for the Pacific Cell Friends of the Pleistocene field trip, Sept. 24-26, 1999, 55p. and 12 appendices.
Burke, R.M., 1998. Glacial and Paleoclimate Record of the Sierra Nevada, Bishop to Mono Lake, in Caputo, M.V., and Grubb, B. (editors). Geology of the Southeastern Sierra Nevada - Revisited - a guidebook prepared for the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, pp. 44-60.
Burke, R.M., Berman, Fred, LaFarge,Doug, 1997, (eds.) Paleoclimatic and paleotectonic features of Owens Valley: Guidebook for the Pacific Cell Friends of the Pleistocene field trip to Owens Valley , California, Sept. 26-28, 1997, 117p.
Reger, Richard D., Pinney, DeAnne S., Burke, Raymond M., and Wiltse, Milton A., 1996, Catalog and initial analyses of geological data related to middle and late Quaternary deposits, Cook Inlet, Alaska: Report of Investigations 95-6, State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geological and Geophysics Surveys, 188 p, 5 geologic maps.
Burke, R.M., and Carver, G.A., (eds), 1992, A look at the southern end of the Cascadia Subduction Zone and the Mendocino Triple Junction; Guidebook for the Pacific Cell Friends of the Pleistocene field trip to Coastal Northern California, June 5-7, 1992, 265 p.
*Included in the above guidebook are the following contributions on which R.M. Burke is listed as a co-author.
Carver, G.A., Aalto, K.R., and Burke, R.M., 1992, Road log from Patricks Point State Park to Bear River, California, p. 3-14.
Carver, G.A., and Burke, R.M., 1992, Late Cenozoic Deformation on the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the Region of the Mendocino Triple Junction, p. 31-63.
Burke, R.M., with 16 other panel members, 1992, Ground Water at Yucca Mountain, How high can it rise?: Final Report of the Panel on Coupled Hydrologic/Tectonic/Hydrothermal Systems at Yucca Mountain; Board on Radioactive Waste Management; Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, National Research Council, National Academy Press, 231 p.
Berger, G.W., Burke, R.M., Carver, G.A., and Easterbrook, D.J., 1991, Test of thermoluminescence dating with coastal sediments from northern California: Isotope Geoscience Section, Chemical Geology v. 87, p. 21-37.
Gillespie, A.R., Burke, R.M., Fischer, A.F. III, Smith, M.O., and Fox, L. III, 1991, Distinguishing soils and surfaces in a carbonate-enriches desert chronosequence with TIMS: in Abbot, E. (ed), Proceedings of Airborne Science Workshop: TIMS, Jet Propulsion Laboratory publication 90-55, Pasadena, p. 119-135.
Carver, G., and Burke R.M., 1989, Active Convergent Tectonics in Northwestern California, in Aalto, K.R., and Harper, G. (Leaders). Geologic Evolution of the Northernmost Coast Ranges and Western Klamath Mountains, California: Field Trip Guidebook T308, 28th International Geological Congress, p. 64-82.
Birkeland, P. W., Benedict, J. B., and Burke, R. M., 1989, Pedogenic gradients for iron, aluminum and phosphorus with time along a bioclimatic gradient in arctic and alpine soils: Quaternary Research, v. 32, pp. 193-204.1989.
Birkeland, P. W., and Burke, R. M., 1988, The development of soil catenas with time on moraines of the eastern Sierra Nevada, California: Arctic and Alpine Research , v. 20, 4, pp. 473-484.
Carver, G. A., and Burke, R. M., 1988, Trenching investigations of northwestern California faults, Humboldt Bay region: Final report, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, United States Geological Survey, 53 p.
Carver, G. A., and Burke, R. M., 1987, Investigations of late Pleistocene and Holocene thrust faulting in coastal California north of Cape Mendocino, in Jacobsen, M. L., and Rodrigues, T. R. (eds.), Summaries of Technical Reports, v. XXIII, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, p. 165-168.
Birkeland, P. W., Burke, R. M., and Shroba, R. R., 1987, Holocene alpine soils in gneissic cirque deposits, Colorado Front Range, in Harden, J. W., (ed.), A series of soil chronosequences in the Western United States, U. S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1590G.
Burke, R. M., and Birkeland, P. W., 1983, Holocene Glaciation in the Mountain Ranges of the western United States, in Wright, H. E., Jr. (ed), Late-Quaternary environments of the United States. University of Minnesota Press, p. 3-11.
Dalrymple, G. B., Burke, R. M., and Birkeland, P. W., 1982, Concerning K-Ar dating of a basalt flow from the Tahoe-Tioga Interglaciation, Sawmill Canyon, southeastern Sierra Nevada, California, a note: Quaternary Research, 17, p. 120-122.
Birkeland, P. W., Burke, R. M., and Walker, A. L., 1980, Soils and subsurface rock-weathering features of Sherwin and pre-Sherwin glacial deposits, eastern Sierra Nevada, California: Geological Society of America Bulletin, Park I, v. 91, p. 238-244.
Birkeland, P. W., Colman, S. M., Burke, R. M., Shroba, R. R., and Meierding, T. C., 1979, Nomenclature of alpine glacial deposits, or What's in a name?: Geology v. 7, p. 532-536.
Burke, R. M., Birkeland, P. W., (eds.), 1979, Field guide to relative dating methods applied to glacial deposits in the third and fourth recesses and along the eastern Sierra Nevada, California, with supplementary notes on other Sierra Nevada localities: field trip guidebook for Friends of the Pleistocene - Pacific Cell, August 22-26, 1979, 131 p.
Burke, R, M, and Birkeland, P. W., 1979, Reevaluation of multiparameter relative dating techniques and their application to glacial sequences along the eastern Sierra Nevada, California: Quaternary Research, v. II, p. 21-51.
Birkeland, P. W., Burke, R. M., and Yount, J. C., 1976, Preliminary Comments on Late Cenozoic Glaciations in the Sierra Nevada, in Mahaney, W. C., (ed), Quaternary Stratigraphy of North America: Dowden, Hutchison, and Ross, Inc., Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, p. 283-295.
Machette, M. N., Birkeland, P. W., Burke, R. M., Guccione, M. J., Kihl, R., Markos, G., 1976, Field Descriptions and Laboratory Data for a Quaternary Soil Sequence in the Golden-Boulder Portion of the Colorado Piedmont: U.S. Geol. Survey Open-File Report 76-804, 21 p.