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Profile photo of  Dr. Kristen Cook

Dr. Kristen Cook

Section 5.1: Geomorphology

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

Building F, room 425
14473 Potsdam
Phone: +49 331 288-28829
e-mail: kristen.cook(at)


About the person


2013 - present: Postdoctoral Researcher, GFZ

2008 - 2013: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Geosciences, National Taiwan University


2003-2008: Ph.D, Geology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1998-2002: Bachelor of Science with honors in Geology, California Institute of Technology


The Daan River gorge - field study of fluvial erosion processes
This project involves monitoring the evolution of a rapidly eroding bedrock gorge in western Taiwan. The gorge is the result of uplift of the riverbed during an earthquake in 1999. The river is now rapidly incising into this zone of uplift and since 1999 has carved a dramatic bedrock gorge 1200m long and up to ~20m deep. The extremely rapid pace of incision provides an ideal opportunity to study the interactions between uplift, discharge, sediment supply, channel width, and knickpoint propagation. I use repeat terrestrial lidar surveys, UAV surveys, RTK GPS surveys, and aerial photographs to quantify changes in the gorge with high spatial and temporal resolution.
Surface process effects of the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, Nepal
I am involved in the GFZ HART project monitoring the ongoing effects of the Gorkha earthquake on surface processes. In particular, I am looking at landslide-channel coupling, the transport of coarse landslide material off of the hillslopes, and the effect of that material on the fluvial system.
Change detection using terrestrial lidar and UAV-based structure from motion
I use terrestrial lidar and small UAVs to obtain high resolution topography for monitoring geomorphic change in a range of settings. Applications include fluvial processes in the Daan River (UAV and lidar), hillslope and debris flow processes in the Illgraben (lidar), rockfall in the Reintal (lidar), and landslide and hillslope change in Nepal (lidar). 
Cenozoic uplift, deformation, and landscape evolution in eastern Tibet
A number of projects are underway on the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. These include:
• Identifying Oligocene deformation and uplift in the Danba region using 40Ar/39Ar and fission trak thermochronology
• Mapping and dating multiple phases of granite emplacement in the Cenozoic Gongga granite to learn about the distribution of Cenozoic crustal melting and the timing of initiation of the Xianshuihe Fault
• Constraining the anomalous uplift of Gongga Shan and investigating its driving factors 
• Distinguishing between the effects that variations in uplift and variations in lithology have on topographic metrics in the Yaan-Hanyuan region