• Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, 1970
  • M.A. University of Wisconsin, 1968
  • B.A. University of Pennsylvania, 1966
Professional Experience:
  • Joined HSU 1974
  • HSU Scholar of the Year, 1987


I earned my undergraduate degree in geology from the University of Pennsylvania [B.A., 1966] and graduate degrees at the University of Wisconsin, Madison [M.A., 1968; Ph.D., 1970], completing thesis work on Mesozoic flysch sedimentology in southwestern Oregon and late Precambrian glacial marine sedimentology in southeastern British Columbia. I taught at Universidad Nacional in Bogotá, Colombia, was a postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University and taught at Central Connecticut State University before coming to Humboldt State in 1974. I was selected to be a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 1982 and Humboldt State University Scholar of the Year in 1987.

I am an author of some 100 papers, maps and abstracts concerning the history of geology, sandstone diagenesis, clastic sedimentology, glacial stratigraphy, carbonate sedimentology, and the sedimentology, igneous petrology, structural geology and tectonics of Northern California Franciscan and Neogene accretionary complexes. I have led or co-led major field trips on local geology for the 1984 Penrose Conference on accretionary prism structural fabrics, the 1989 International Geological Congress, the 1989 National Association of Geology Teachers Western Section meeting and the 1994 Penrose Conference on triple junction interactions at convergent plate margins. I also participated in the 1980 conference on trench and forearc sedimentation and tectonics in London, the 1984 Penrose Conference on Appalachian Melanges in Newfoundland, the 1986 Kaiko Conference on subduction zones in Japan, the 1999 Penrose Conference on subduction to strike-slip transitions on plate boundaries in the Dominican Republic, and International Geological Congresses in Moscow (1984) and Beijing (1996). I have contributed extensively to the updating of the Weed and Redding sheets of the 1:250,000 Geologic Map of California. My research has received support from the National Science Foundation, U. S. Geological Survey, California Division of Mines and Geology, California State University, Humboldt State University Foundation, American Philosophical Society and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Personal and Research Interests:

My research interests are diverse, but focus chiefly on stratigraphy, sedimentology, structural geology and tectonics. I have worked extensively on local Franciscan Complex basement rock and Neogene cover rocks of the Coast Ranges and Klamath Mountains. For six years I was involved in study of Pleistocene-Holocene sediments of the Bahama Platform.

Theses Supervised

Robinson, Dane T., 2002, Marine Inundation of a Late Miocene Forest: Stratigraphy and Tectonic Evolution of the Saint George Formation, Crescent City, California

Stone, Linda, 1993, Pliocene - Pleistocene Sedimentary and Tectonic History of the Crescent City/Smith River Region, Del Norte County, California

Johnson, Ralph M., 1992, Interpretation of Coastal Stream Mouth Geomorphology in the Mendocino Triple Junction Area, Northern California

Phillips, Perri A., 1989, The Geology of the Weaverville Formation in the Vicinity of Weaverville, California

Abelli, Terese E., 1988, A Tectonic Geomorphic Study of Late Pleistocene Raised Marine Terrace Remnants in Coastal Southwestern Oregon

Selected Publications:

The following is a list of papers published (or in press) for the last half decade, arranged by topic [names of co-authors who were HSU students when the study was undertaken are underlined]:

 Siliciclastic Sedimentology:
Aalto, K.R., 1995, Skin friction lines(?) preserved on flute casts, Franciscan Complex, Point St. George, northern California: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. A65, p. 127-128.
________, 1996, Flute-like marks and associated structures from the Carboniferous Port Hood Formation of eastern Canada: evidence of secondary origin in association with sediment intrusion-discussion: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 66, p. 292-293.
________, Moley, K., and Miller, W., III, 1996, Evolution of a trench-slope basin within the Cascadia subduction margin: the Neogene Humboldt Basin, California: Discussion: Sedimentology, v. 43, p. 761-769.
________, Aalto, R., Garrison-Laney, C.E., and Abramson, H.F., 1999, Tsunami (?) sculpturing of the Pebble Beach Wave-cut Platform, Crescent City area, California: Journal of Geology, v. 107, p. 607-622.
Miller, William, III, and Aalto, Kenneth R., 1999, Anatomy of a complex trace fossil: Phymatoderma from Pliocene bathyal mudstone, northwestern Ecuador: Paleontological Research, v. 2, p. 266-274.
Carbonate Sedimentology:
Aalto, K.R., and Dill, R.F., 1996, Late Pleistocene stratigraphy of a carbonate platform margin, Exumas, Bahamas: Sedimentary Geology, v. 103, p. 129-143.
Shapiro, R. S., Aalto, K. R., Dill, R. F. and Kenny, R., 1995. Stratigraphic setting of a subtidal stromatolite field, Iguana Cay, Exumas, Bahamas. In: H.A. Curran and B. White (Editors), Terrestrial and Shallow Marine Geology of the Bahamas and Bermuda. Geological Society of America Special Paper 300, p. 139-155.
Igneous Petrology:
Lavine, A., and Aalto, K.R., 2000, Morphology of a crater-filling lava lake margin, the Peninsula Tuff Cone, Lava Beds National Monument, Modoc County, California: Journal of Volcanology [in press].

Tectonics, Structural & Regional Geology:
Aalto, K.R., Mclaughlin, R.J., Carver, G.A., Barron, J.A., Sliter, W.V., and McDougall, K., 1995, Uplifted Neogene margin, southernmost Cascadia-Mendocino triple junction region, California: Tectonics, v. 14, p. 1104-1116.
________, Moley, K., and Stone, L., 1995, Neogene paleogeography and tectonics of northwestern California: in Cenozoic Paleogeography of the Western United States-II, edited by E. Fritsche, Pacific Section, SEPM book 75, p. 162-180.
________, Sharp, W.D., and P.R. Renne, 1998, 40Ar/39Ar dating of detrital micas from Oligocene-Pleistocene sandstones of the Olympic Peninsula, Klamath Mountains and northern California Coast Ranges: Provenance and paleodrainage patterns: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 35, p. 735-745
________, and Miller, W., III, 1999, Sedimentology, paleontology and structural geology of a Pliocene inner-trench slope succession, Upper Onzole Formation, northwestern Ecuador: Journal of South American Earth Sciences, v. 12, p. 69-85.

Ken Aalto