Montana State University

Department of Earth Sciences

Montana State University
P.O. Box 173480
Bozeman, MT 59717-3480

Tel: (406) 994-3331
Fax: (406) 994-6923
Location: 226 Traphagen Hall

Department Chair

Dr. David Mogk

Dr. Jean Dixon

Assistant Professor of Geology

Contact Information

Office:   Traphagen Hall #112
Phone:   (406) 994-3342

Office Hours: Fall 2014

MW 8:30 - 10:30 am


Montana Institute on Ecosystems (IOE)


Ph.D. Dartmouth College, Earth Science, 2009
B.A. Carleton College, Geology 2000

Research Interests:

I am a geomorphologist interested in the chemical, physical and biological processes at Earth’s Surface that form soil from rock, transport soil and sediment, and sculpt the landsurface. My research uses geochemical tools such as cosmogenic radionuclides to quantify the rates and patterns of Earth surface processes. I couple geochemical analysis with field observations, digital terrain analysis and simple numerical models to understand the primary controls on the evolution of diverse landscapes and the sensitivity of the Earth’s soils and surface to external forces such as tectonics and climate.

My research follows several broad themes:

  • Thresholds for soil formation and weathering
  • Topographic signatures and rates of geomorphic processes
  • The role of external forcings such as climate, tectonics and humans in landscape evolution
  • Geochemical tracing of sediment generation and transport

Courses Taught:

ERTH 307 - Principles of Geomorphology

Graduate Students

Sarah Benjaram
Rachel Jensen

Selected Publications:

Hewawasam, T, von Blanckenburg, F, Bouchez, J, Dixon, JL, Schuessler, JA (2012) Slow advance of the weathering front during deep, supply-limited saprolite formation in the tropical highlands of Sri Lanka. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: v. 118, p. 202-230.

Dixon, JL and von Blanckenburg, F (2012) Soils as pacemakers and limiters of global silicate weathering. Comptes Rendus Geoscience: v. 344. P. 597-609.

Dixon, JL, Hartshorn, AS, Heimsath, AM, Dibiase, R, and Whipple, KX (2012) Chemical weathering response to tectonic forcing: A soils perspective from the San Gabriel Mountains, California. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.01.010

Dixon, JL (2011) Deceptively old Alpine gorges. Nature-Geoscience: News and Views. v. 4, p. 8-9.
Rasmussen, C, Brantley, Richter, D, Blum, A, Dixon, J and White, AF (2010) Strong climate and tectonic control on plagioclase weathering in granitic terrain, Earth and Planetary Science Letters: v. 301, p. 521-530.

Dixon, JL, Heimsath, AM, Kaste, J and Amundson, R (2009) Climate driven processes of hillslope weathering. Geology: v. 37, p. 975-978.

Dixon, JL, Heimsath, AM, Burke, BC and Amundson, R (2009) The critical role of climate and saprolite weathering in landscape evolution. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms: v. 34, p. 1507-1521.

Burke, BC, Heimsath, AM, Dixon, JL, Chappell, J, Yoo, K (2009) Weathering the escarpment: chemical and physical rates and processes, south-eastern Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 10.1002/esp.1764.