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Kurt Refsnider, Ph.D. - Faculty

Kurt  Refsnider, Ph.D.

Academic Statement (Return to top)

Kurt is a geologist with expertise in geomorphology (processes that shape the landscape), geochronology, and climate science. Drawn to these fields by a desire to understand the world that surrounds us and how it formed, Kurt is passionate about sharing his curiosity with others, helping students build the skillset necessary to make informed observations and interpretations, and increasing scientific literacy. Kurt is also an accomplished field geologist, having conducted research in the Scandinavian and Canadian Arctic, throughout the Rocky Mountains, on glaciers, and in caves. His love of the outdoors and extensive field experience results in his classes spending a substantial portion of their time outside. 

Courses Kurt teaches include the following:

- Introduction to Earth Science
- Geologic Evolution of the Southwest
- Geomorphology
- Geology of Arizona
- Global Environmental Change
- Field Methods in Geology
- Geology through Bikepacking



Background & Experience

Selected Publications (Return to top)

Refsnider, K.A., Miller, G.H., and Rood, D., in press.  Establishing an absolute chronology for the Plio-Pleistocene Arctic Clyde Foreland Formation using a combined amino acid racemization and cosmogenic radionuclide approach.  Quaternary Geochronology.

Refsnider, K.A., Miller, G.H., Fogel, M., Frechette, B., Andrews, J.T., Bowden, R., and Farmer, G.L., in revision. Carbonate precipitation, chemical weathering, and palynomorph preservation beneath the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Quaternary Research.

Laabs, B.J.C., Marchetti, D.W., Munroe, J.S., Gosse, J.C., Lips, E.W., Refsnider, K.A., Becker, R.A., Mickelson, D.M., and Singer, B.S., 2013.  Synchrony of Latest Pleistocene mountain glaciers and the Lake Bonneville highstand.  Quaternary Research.

Miller, G.H., Geirsdóttir, Á., Zhong, Y., Larsen, D.J., Otto-Bliesner, B.L., Holland, M.M., Bailey, D.A., Refsnider, K.A., Lehman, S.J., Southon, J.R., Anderson, C., Bjornsson, H., and Thordarson, T., 2012. Abrupt onset of the Little Ice Age triggered by volcanism and sustained by sea-ice/ocean feedbacks. Journal of Geophysical Research.

Refsnider, K.A., Miller, G.H., Hillaire-Marcel, C., Ghaleb, B., Fogel, M., Bowden, R., 2012. Last Glacial Maximum Laurentide Ice Sheet oxygen isotope composition recorded by subglacial carbonate precipitates on Baffin Island. Geology.

Refsnider, K.A., 2010.  Dramatic increase in late Cenozoic alpine erosion rates recorded by cave sediment in the southern Rocky Mountains.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 297, p. 505-511.

Refsnider, K.A. and Miller, G.H, 2010.  Reorganization of ice sheet flow patterns in Arctic Canada and the mid-Pleistocene transition.  Geophysical Research Letters, v. 37, LI13502, DOI:10.1029/2010GL043478.

Refsnider, K.A., Brugger, K.A., Leonard, E.M., McCalpin, J.P., and Armstrong, P.  Last Glacial Maximum equilibrium-line altitude trends and precipitation patterns in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, southern Colorado, USA.  Boreas, v. 38, p. 663-678.

Laabs, B.J.C., Refsnider, K.A., Munroe, J.S., Mickelson, D.M., Applegate, P.J., Singer, B.S., and Caffee, M.W., 2009.  Latest Pleistocene glacial chronology of the Uinta Mountains: support for moisture-driven asynchrony of the last deglaciation.  Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 28, p. 1171-1187.

Refsnider, K.A., Laabs, B.J.C., Plummer, M.A., Singer, B.S., Mickelson, D.M., and Caffee, M.W., 2008.  Last glacial maximum climate inferences from cosmogenic dating and glacier modeling of the Western Uinta ice field, Uinta Mountains, Utah.  Quaternary Research, v. 59, p. 130-144.

Refsnider, K.A., Laabs, B.J.C., and Mickelson, D.M., 2007.  Glacial geology and equilibrium line altitude reconstructions for the Provo River drainage, Uinta Mountains, Utah, U.S.A.  Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, v. 39, n. 4, p. 529-536.

Laabs, B.J.C., Munroe, J.S., Rosenbaum, J.G., Refsnider, K.A., Mickelson, D.M., Singer, B.S., and Caffee, M.W., 2007.  Latest Pleistocene glaciation of the Upper Bear River Basin, Utah.  Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, v. 39, n. 4, p. 537-548.

Refsnider, K.A. and Brugger, K.A., 2007.  Rock glaciers in central Colorado as indicators of late-Holocene climate change: a lichenometric study using Rhizocarpon subgenus Rhizocarpon: Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, v. 39, p. 127-136.

Munroe, J.S., Laabs, B.J.C., Shakun, J.D., Singer, B.S., Mickelson, D.M., Refsnider, K.A., and Caffee, M.W., 2006.  Latest Pleistocene advance of alpine glaciers in the southwestern Uinta Mountains, northeastern Utah, USA: Evidence for the influence of local moisture sources: Geology, v. 34, p. 841-844.

Brugger, K.A., Refsnider, K.A., and Whitehill, M.F., 2006.  Variations in glacier length and ice volume of  Rabots Glaciär in response to climate change, 1910-2003.  Annals of Glaciology v. 42.

Research (Return to top)

Kurt's research revolves around the themes of landscape evolution, Quaternary climate change (the past ~2.7 million years), and cosmogenic radionuclide applications. Recent projects have ranged from documenting changes in alpine bedrock erosion rates in the Southern Rocky Mountains over the past 4 million years using cave sediments to investigating Laurentide Ice Sheet erosion over the past 2.5 million years in the High Canadian Arctic. Kurt is also interested in understanding spatial patterns in climate during the Last Glacial Maximum (~20,000 years ago) and the influence these patterns had on mountain glaciers in the western United States. Other ongoing pursuits involve the formation of fiords, the preservation of ancient landforms beneath ice sheets, and the application of cosmogenic 21Ne to geomorphic problems.

Awards, Grants, & Honors (Return to top)

- Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists Research Grant, 2010
- National Speleological Society Ralph W. Stone Graduate Fellowship, 2008
- PRIME Lab Seed Grant, 2008
- CU Beverly Sears Graduate Student Research Grant, 2008
- CU Dept. of Geological Sciences Shell Research Award, 2008
- Geological Society of America Graduate Research Grant, 2005, 2008
Colorado Scientific Society Pierce Award, 2006
- American Alpine Club Research Grant, 2006

Education (Return to top)

Ph.D. (Geology), University of Colorado, Boulder, 2011
M.S. (Geology), University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2006
B.A. (Geology), University of Minnesota, Morris, 2004


Academic Involvement at Prescott College (Return to top)


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