Phillip Larson, Professor | Director of Earth Science Programs

Address: 222G Morris Hall
Phone: 507-389-1259

Phil Larson's WEBSITE

UMN Earth Surface Group


I was born in Red Wing, Minnesota, and was raised along the banks of the upper Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers.  The geography of my upbringing resulted in a life-long interest in rivers and the landscapes they create and continuously transform.  This interest was energized as a child during family vacations to the canyons and incredible structural and erosional landscapes of the southwest United States.  Through these early experiences, a passion for understanding our world developed. When I entered my undergraduate pursuits, first at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (majoring in both Geography and Geology) and finishing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (major in Geography, minor in Geology), I continued to grow this passion by committing to life-long academic pursuits in Earth Science.  I continued these academic pursuits into graduate work (both Masters and Ph.D.) at Arizona State working with my advisor, Dr. Ron Dorn, and Dr. Mark Schmeeckle.  Today, I consider myself an Earth Scientist, but more specifically, a Geomorphologist. I now serve as Earth Science Director, and EARTH Systems Laboratory Co-Director in my duties as Professor at Minnesota State, Mankato, in the Department of Geography.  I am also Graduate Faculty in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where I work closely with Dr. Andrew Wickert and his Earth Surface group.

Fluvial geomorphology and drainage basin evolution, transverse drainage processes, landscape evolution and paleoenvironmental/paleogeographic change, arid/desert geomorphology, aeolian geomorphology, granitic and volcanic landscapes, natural hazards/disasters

Oh, J.S., Seong, Y.B.,Larson, P.H., Hong, S.C., Yu, B.Y. (2019). Asymmetric hillslope retreat on Rock Peak, San Tan Mountains, Arizona, USA: Assessing caprock lithology control on landscape evolution. Annals of the American Association of Geographers.

Donovan, M., Belmont, P., Notebaert, B., Coombs, T., Larson, P.H., Souffront, M. (2019). Accounting for uncertainty in measurements of river channel migration. Earth Science Reviews.

Schaetzl, R., Larson, P.H., Faulkner, D.J., Running, G.L., Jol, H.M., and Rittenour T. (2017).  Eolian sand and loess deposits indicate west-northwest paleowinds during the Late Pleistocene in western Wisconsin, USA. Quaternary Research. 89: 769-785. DOI: 10.1017/qua.2017.88

Larson, P.H., Meek, N., Dorn, R.I., Douglass, J., Seong, Y.B., (2016). How Rivers Cross Mountains. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. DOI:  10.1080/24694452.2016.1203283 

Larson, P.H., Kelley, S., Dorn, R.I., Seong Y.B. (2016). Pace of Landscape Change in the northeastern Sonoran Desert, United States. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2016.1201420 

G.K. Gilbert Award Recipient - American Association of Geographers Geomorphology Specialty Group

Faulkner, D., Larson, P.H., Jol, H.M., Running, G.L., Loope, H.M., and Goble, R.J. (2016). Autogenic Incision and Terrace Formation Resulting from Abrupt Late-Glacial Base-Level Fall, Lower Chippewa River, Wisconsin, USA. Geomorphology.266: 75-95.  DOI:10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.04.016

Larson, P.H. and Dorn, R.I. (2014). Strath Development in Small Arid Watersheds: Case Study of South Mountain, Sonoran Desert, Arizona. American Journal of Science. 314: 1202-1223. 


  • Geography 101 - Introduction to Physical Geography (in-person and online)
  • Geography 313 - Natural Disasters (in-person and online)
  • Geography 315 – Geomorphology
  • Geography 409 - Water Resources
  • Geography 415 - Earth Surface Processes
  • Geography 416 - Fluvial Geomorphology and Hydrology (Writing Intensive)
  • Geography 417 - Quaternary Environments and Climate Change
  • Geography 440 - Field Methods
  • Geography 440 - Desert Southwest/National Parks of the Southwest


  • Geography 509 - Water Resources
  • Geography 515 - Earth Surface Processes
  • Geography 516 - Fluvial Geomorphology and Hydrology
  • Geography 517 - Quaternary Environments and Climate Change
  • Geography 540 - Field Methods
  • Geography 610 – Advanced Geomorphology
  • Geography 610 - Desert Geomorphology
  • Geography 610 - Arid Environments
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