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Arjun Heimsath

Arjun Heimsath

Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


School of Earth and Space Exploration
Arizona State University
PO Box 876004
Tempe, AZ 85287-6004


  • Senior Global Futures Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Affiliated Faculty, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation


Arjun Heimsath grew up partly in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya and partly in the Hill Country of Texas, both of which led to his current passion for understanding how the earth’s surface works. His work as a Peace Corps water development engineer on the coast of Kenya led to his focus on environmental science, which he pursued in the Nepal Himalaya to quantify differences between human and natural processes of erosion. While struggling to understand all that controls erosion, Professor Heimsath “discovered” the field of geomorphology and focused his research efforts on the thin skin of the earth’s surface that is referred to as Earth’s critical zone. This zone is directly relevant to supporting human life and his main interests are in soil and water sustainability.


  • PhD, Geology, University of California-Berkeley, 1999
  • MS, Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, 1993
  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, Yale College, 1989


External Links

Journal Articles


Adams, B. A., K. X. Whipple, A. M. Forte, A. M. Heimsath and K. V. Hodges. 2020. Climate controls on erosion in tectonically active landscapes. Science Advances 6(42):eaaz3166. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz3166. (link )

Darling, A., K. Whipple, P. Bierman, B. Clarke and A. Heimsath. 2020. Resistant rock layers amplify cosmogenically‐determined erosion rates. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 45(2):312-330. DOI: 10.1002/esp.4730. (link )


Heimsath, A. M. and K. X. Whipple. 2019. Strength matters: Resisting erosion across upland landscapes. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 44(9):1748-1754. DOI: 10.1002/esp.4609. (link )

Jungers, M. C. and A. M. Heimsath. 2019. Transverse canyon incision and sedimentary basin excavation driven by drainage integration, Aravaipa Creek, AZ, USA. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 44(5):1077-1090. DOI: 10.1002/esp.4556. (link )


Cook, K. L., N. Hovius, H. Wittmann, A. M. Heimsath and Y. Lee. 2018. Causes of rapid uplift and exceptional topography of Gongga Shan on the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 481(Jan):328-337. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.10.043. (link )

Pfeiffer, M., C. Latorre, C. M. Santoro, E. M. Gayo, R. Rojas, M. L. Carrevedo, V. B. McRostie, K. M. Finstad, A. Heimsath, M. C. Jungers, R. De Pol-Holz and R. Amundson. 2018. Chronology, stratigraphy and hydrological modelling of extensive wetlands and paleolakes in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert during the late quaternary. Quarternary Science Reviews 197(Oct):224-245. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.08.001. (link )

Wackett, A. A., K. Yoo, R. Amundson, A. M. Heimsath and N. A. Jelinski. 2018. Climate controls on coupled processes of chemical weathering, bioturbation, and sediment transport across hillslope. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 43(8):1575-1590. DOI: 10.1002/esp.4337. (link )

Wang, X., K. Yoo, A. A. Wackett, J. Gutknecht, R. Amundson and A. Heimsath. 2018. Soil organic carbon and mineral interactions on climatically different hillslopes. Geoderma 322:71-80. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.02.021. (link )


Paige, J., K. Michelaki, C. Campisano, M. Barton and A. Heimsath. 2017. Are the intensities and durations of small-scale pottery firings sufficient to completely dehydroxylate clays? Testing a key assumption underlying ceramic rehydroxylation dating. Journal of Archaeological Science 79(Mar):44-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2017.01.009. (link )

Rossi, M. W., M. C. Quigley, J. M. Fletcher, K. Whipple, I. J. Duaz-Torres, C. Seiler, L. K. Fifield and A. M. Heimsath. 2017. Along-strike variation in catchment morphology and cosmogenic denudation rates reveal the pattern and history of footwall uplift, Main Gulf Escarpment, Baja California. GSA Bulletin 129(7-8):837–854. DOI: 10.1130/B31373.1. (link )


Adams, B. A., K. Whipple, K. V. Hodges and A. Heimsath. 2016. In situ development of high‐elevation, low‐relief landscapes via duplex deformation in the Eastern Himalayan hinterland, Bhutan. JGR Science 121(2):294-319. DOI: 10.1002/2015JF003508. (link )

Barton, C. M., I. I. Ullah, S. M. Bergin, H. Sarjoughian, G. R. Mayer, J. Bernabeu Auban, A. Heimsath, M. F. Acevedo, J. Riel-Salvatore and J. R. Arrowsmith. 2016. Experimental socioecology:Integrative science for anthropocene landscape dynamics. Anthropocene 13(Mar):34-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.ancene.2015.12.004. (link )

Jungers, M. C. and A. M. Heimsath. 2016. Post-tectonic landscape evolution of a coupled basin and range: Pinaleño Mountains and Safford Basin, southeastern Arizona. GSA Bulletin 128(3-4):469-386. DOI: 10.1130/B31276.1. (link )

Oerter, E., R. Amundson, A. Heimsath, M. C. Jungers, G. Chong and P. Renne. 2016. Early to Middle Miocene climate in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 441(Part 4):890-900. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.10.038. (link )


Amundson, R., A. Heimsath, J. Owen, K. Yoo and W. E. Dietrich. 2015. Hillslope soils and vegetation. Geomorphology 234(Apr):122-132. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.12.031. (link )

Barton, M., I. Ullah and A. Heimsath. 2015. How to make a barranco: Modeling erosion and land-use in Mediterranean landscapes. Land 4(3):578-606. DOI: 10.3390/land4030578. (link )

Byun, J., A. M. Heimsath, Y. Seong and S. Y. Lee. 2015. Erosion of a high‐altitude, low‐relief area on the Korean Peninsula: Implications for its development processes and evolution. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 40(13):1730-1745. DOI: 0.1002/esp.3749. (link )

DiBiase, R. A., K. Whipple, M. P. Lamb and A. Heimsath. 2015. The role of waterfalls and knickzones in controlling the style and pace of landscape adjustment in the western San Gabriel Mountains, CA. GSA Bulletin 127(3-4):539-559. DOI: 10.1130/B31113.1. (link )

Pelletier, J. D., A. B. Murray, J. L. Pierce, P. Bierman, D. D. Breshears, B. T. Crosby, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, A. M. Heimsath, C. Houser, N. Lancaster, M. Marani, D. J. Merritts, L. J. Moore, J. L. Pederson, M. J. Poulos, T. M. Rittenour, J. C. Rowland, P. Ruggiero, A. D. Wickert and E. M. Yager. 2015. Forecasting the response of Earth’s surface to future climatic and land-use changes: A review of methods and research needs. Earth's Future 3(7):220-251. DOI: 10.1002/2014EF000290. (link )


Heimsath, A. 2014. Limits of soil production?. Science 343(6171):617-618. DOI: 10.1126/science.1250173. (link )


Chadwick, O. A., J. J. Roering, A. M. Heimsath, S. R. Levick, G. P. Asner and L. Khomo. 2013. Shaping post-orogenic landscapes by climate and chemical weathering. Geology 41(11):1171-1174. DOI: 10.1130/G34721.1. (link )

Heimsath, A. and B. C. Burke. 2013. The impact of local geochemical variability on quantifying hillslope soil production and chemical weathering. Geomorphology 200(Oct):75-88. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.03.007. (link )

Jungers, M. C., A. M. Heimsath, R. Amundson, G. Balco, D. L. Shuster and G. Chong. 2013. Active erosion–deposition cycles in the hyperarid Atacama Desert of Northern Chile. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 371-372(Jun):125-133. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2013.04.005. (link )


Amundson, R., J. D. Barnes, S. Ewing and A. Heimsath. 2012. The stable isotope composition of halite and sulfate of hyperarid soils and its relation to aqueous transport. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 99(Dec):271-286. DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2012.04.044. (link )

Amundson, R., W. Dietrich, D. Bellugi, S. Ewing, K. Nishiizumi, G. Chong, J. Owen, R. Finkel, A. Heimsath, B. Stewart and M. Caffee. 2012. Geomorphologic evidence for the late Pliocene onset of hyperaridity in the Atacama Desert. GSA Bulletin 124(7-8):1048-1070. DOI: 10.1130/B30445.1. (link )

DiBiase, R. A., A. Heimsath and K. Whipple. 2012. Hillslope response to tectonic forcing in threshold landscapes. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 37(8):855-865. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3205. (link )

Dixon, J. L., A. S. Hartshorn, A. M. Heimsath, R. A. DiBiase and K. Whipple. 2012. Chemical weathering response to tectonic forcing: A soils perspective from the San Gabriel Mountains, California. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 323-324(Mar):40-49. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.01.010. (link )

Heimsath, A. M., R. A. DiBiase and K. X. Whipple. 2012. Soil production limits and the transition to bedrock-dominated landscapes. Nature Geoscience 5:210-214. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1380. (link )

Heimsath, A. M. and O. Korup. 2012. Quantifying rates and processes of landscape evolution. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 37(2):249-251. DOI: 10.1002/esp.2251. (link )

Stang, D. M., E. J. Rhodes and A. M. Heimsath. 2012. Assessing soil mixing processes and rates using a portable OSL-IRSL reader: Preliminary determinations. Quarternary Geochronology 10(Jul):314-319. DOI: 10.1016/j.quageo.2012.04.021. (link )


Brantley, S., J. P. Megonigal, F. N. Scatena, Z. Balogh-Brunstad, R. T. Barnes, M. A. Bruns, P. Van Cappellen, K. Dontsova, H. E. Hartnett, A. S. Hartshorn, A. Heimsath, E. Herndon, L. Jin, C. K. Keller, J. R. Leake, W. H. McDowell, F. C. Meinzer, T. J. Mozdzer, S. Petsch, J. Pett-Ridge, K. S. Pregitzer, P. A. Raymond, C. S. Riebe, K. Shumaker, A. Sutton-Grier, R. Walter and K. Yoo. 2011. Twelve testable hypotheses on the geobiology of weathering. Geobiology 9(2):140-165. DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2010.00264.x. (link )

Kaste, J. M., B. C. Bostick, A. M. Heimsath, E. Steinnes and A. J. Friedland. 2011. Using atmospheric fallout to date organic horizon layers and quantify metal dynamics during decomposition. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75(6):1642-1661. DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2011.01.011. (link )

Pratt-Sitaula, B., D. W. Burbank, A. M. Heimsath, N. F. Humphrey, M. Oskin and J. Putkonen. 2011. Topographic control of asynchronous glacial advances: A case study from Annapurna, Nepal. Geophysical Research Letters 38(24):L24502. DOI: 10.1029/2011GL049940. (link )


DiBiase, R. A., K. X. Whipple, A. M. Heimsath and W. B. Ouimet. 2010. Landscape form and millennial erosion rates in the San Gabriel Mountains, CA. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 289(1-2):134-144. DOI: 0.1016/j.epsl.2009.10.036. (link )

Heimsath, A. M., J. Chappell and K. Fifield. 2010. Eroding Australia: Rates and processes from Bega Valley to Arnhem Land. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 346:225=241. DOI: 10.1144/SP346.12. (link )


Dixon, J. L., A. M. Heimsath, J. Kaste and R. Amundson. 2009. Climate-driven processes of hillslope weathering. Geology 37(11):975-978. DOI: 10.1130/G30045A.1. (link )

Furbish, D. J., P. K. Haff, W. E. Dietrich and A. M. Heimsath. 2009. Statistical description of slope‐dependent soil transport and the diffusion‐like coefficient. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Science 114(F3):F00A05. DOI: 10.1029/2009JF001267. (link )

Heimsath, A. M., D. Fink and G. R. Hancock. 2009. The ‘humped’ soil production function: Eroding Arnhem Land, Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 34(12):1674-1684. DOI: 10.1002/esp.1859. (link )

O'Farrell, C. R., A. M. Heimsath, D. E. Lawson, L. M. Jorgensen, E. B. Evenson, G. Larson and J. Denner. 2009. Quantifying periglacial erosion: Insights on a glacial sediment budget, Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 34(15):2008-2022. DOI: 10.1002/esp.1885. (link )

Book Chapters


Heimsath, A. M. 2015. Luminescence, soils. In: Rink, W. J. and J. W. Thompson eds., Encyclopedia of Scientific Dating Methods. Springer. Dordrecht. ISBN: 978-94-007-6303-6.


Heimsath, A. M. and M. C. Jungers. 2013. 7.13 Processes, Transport, Deposition, and Landforms: Quantifying Creep. Pp. 138-151 In: Shroder, J. ed., Treatise on Geomorphology. Vol 7. Academic Press. ISBN: 9780123747396.


Heimsath, A. M. 2012. Quantifying processes governing soil-mantled hillslopes evolution. Pp. 205-244 In: Lin, H. ed., Hydropedology: Synergistic Integration of Soil Science and Hydrology. Academic Press. ISBN: 978-0123869418.

Report Chapters


Hanks, T. C., J. L. Blair, K. L. Cook, M. E. Davis, S. W. Davis, R. C. Finkel, C. D. Garvin, A. M. Heimsath, I. Lucchitta, R. H. Webb, K. X. Whipple and R. A. Young. 2011. The Colorado River in Glen Canyon during the Pleistocene -- incision rates, their uncertainties, and the possibility of ancient impoundments. Pp. 112-119 In: Beard, L. S., K. Karlstrom, R. A. Young and G. H. Billingsley eds., CRevolution 2 -- Origin and Evolution of the Colorado River System, Workshop Abstracts. US Geological Survey. Open-File 2011-1210. Flagstaff, AZ. (link )