Professor Emeritus

Profile Field Tabs

Brief Research Interests: 

Land - ocean connectivity, sediment and carbon fluxes from small, mountainous rivers, stratigraphic fidelity, estuarine and continental margin sedimentation, carbon burial



Founding Program Director for the undergraduate Oceanography degree.

Students interested in this major should contact one of the CEOAS undergraduate advisors.

Current Research

Land - ocean connectivity from event to millennial time scales. Sediment and carbon fluxes from small, mountainous rivers. Stratigraphic fidelity. Estuarine and continental margin sedimentation in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Carbon burial in Oregon estuaries. Seafloor properties & bioturbation.


B.A., Geology, The College of Wooster
M.S., Geology, University of Georgia
Ph.D., Oceanography, University of Washington

Postdoctoral Scholar, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution


OC 201 - Oceanography. This course is a 4-credit baccalaureate core course for physical sciences with lab.  It is intended for students interested in learning about how the ocean works and serves as the starting point for the Oceanography major.  

OC 295 & OC 296 - Introduction to Field Oceanography - Land & Sea.  These courses are new ones made possible through a generous donation from an anonymous donor. Thank you! OC 295 is held during Winter and OC 296 is held at sea in the Spring - usually during Spring Break. Each year the sea going portion of the course is taught on one of several UNOLS ships (e.g., the RVs Oceanus, Sikuliaq & Sally Ride) somewhere in the NE Pacific Ocean.   

OC 333 - Oceans, Coasts & People. This course, which is now a baccalaureate core Contemporary Global Issues class, examines in lecture and discussion how humans interact with the ocean and vice versa. Topics include sea level rise, tropical cyclones, marine heat waves, geoengineering, hypoxia, melting Arctic sea ice, deep seabed mining and more.  These are important topics that provide context for anyone living in the 21st century.  

OC 440 - Biological Oceanography. This course is now taught during Spring term by Drs. Byron Crump (even years) or Yvette Spitz (odd years) and by Dr. Maria Kavanaugh in the Summer at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

OC 460 - Geological Oceanography. This course is one of the core requirements for the Oceanography major.  It focuses on (mainly) sedimentary processes in ocean basins from terrestrial sources to various ocean sinks (from estuaries to the deep ocean). In addition we examine how the marine sedimentary record is built and what it can tell us about Earth's history from event to geological timescales. 

OEAS 500 - Cascadia Field Course. This course is a week-long tour of the Pacific NW that examines facets of the geology, climate, ecology and oceanography of Cascadia, as well as regional resource conflicts.  We start in the Columbia River gorge and end up on the coast, with stops at Mount St. Helens and the Oregon Coast Range between. I developed it and taught it for 7 years, but have handed it off to other faculty members.

OEAS 520 - The Solid Earth. This course is an introduction to earth science for graduate students entering the MRM and OEAS programs at OSU. Although it mostly covers marine geology, we do talk about whole planet and terrestrial processes as well.  Our focus is on the sedimentary record and what it tells us about Earth history.  It is part of the CEOAS 'Three Earth' sequence.

OC 648 - Marine Benthic Ecology. This course has been discontinued. Much of the material is now covered in OC 657, Sediment Biogeochemistry, taught by Distinguished Professor Clare Reimers in alternating years.

Graduate Students

Erin Peck - MS & PhD in Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences (2017 and 2021) from Oregon State.  Her research topic was sedimentation (sediment and carbon) in Oregon estuaries over decadal to millennial timescales.  Dr. Peck was a postdoctoral investigator in the Department of Plant & Soil Sciences at the University of Delaware where she studied the effects of legacy sediments in mid-Atlantic rivers and streams. She is now an Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.

Kris Richardson - MS in Water Resources Science (2017) studied sedimentation and stratigraphy in Loon Lake, a small landslide-formed lake in the Oregon Coast Range.  She now works for the US Forest Service in Plains, Montana studying the effects of wildfire on stream hydrology.

Anna Pakenham (Stevenson) - MS in Marine Resource Management (2009) studied sedimentation in the Siletz River estuary.  Anna went on to earn a PhD in Public Policy at OSU and works for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in the general area of water resources.    

Andrew Stevens - MS in Oceanography (2004).  Andrew studied seabed erosion rates in the Adriatic Sea and then went on to work at the US Geological Survey's Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center (Santa Cruz, CA) where he is an Oceanographer involved in several multi-year studies of sedimentation along the US West Coast.

Louise Hunt - MS in Oceanography (2002). Lou studied event sedimentation associated with a large magnitude flood (Fall 2000) of the Po River (northern Adriatic).  She returned to New Zealand and has held various government jobs in marine conservation ever since.  She has also been known to spend some time mountain biking through NZ's steep terrain. 

Cara Fritz - MS in Oceanography (2002).  Cara studied density-dependent bioturbation rates of thalassinid shrimp in the Yaquina Bay sand flats. She is now the Assistant Core Curator at OSU's Marine & Geology Repository.

Feature Stories

Deep blue: Rob Wheatcroft and Erin Peck explore blue carbon in Oregon salt marshes (April, 2018)
All Hands on Deck (May, 2015)


Peck, EK, TP Guilderson, MH Walczak & RA Wheatcroft (2022) Recovery rate of a salt marsh from the 1700 CE Cascadia subduction zone earthquake, Netarts Bay, Oregon. Geophysical Research Letters, 49, 

Peck, EK & RA Wheatcroft (2022) Spatiotemporal variation in Oregon salt marsh expansion and contraction. Estuarine, Coastal & Shelf Science, 273, 107908.

Peck, EK, RA Wheatcroft & LS Brophy (2020) Controls on sediment accretion and blue carbon burial in tidal saline wetlands: Insights from the Oregon coast, USA. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, doi: 10.1029/2019/JG005464

Richardson, KND, JA Hatten & RA Wheatcroft (2018) 1500 years of lake sedimentation due to fire, earthquakes, floods and land clearance in the Oregon Coast Range: Geomorphic sensitivity to floods during timber harvest period. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms,

McManus, J, S Silvermann, AS Cohen, JL McKay, BR Montanye, AM Hartwell, RPL Brucker & RA Wheatcroft (2015) The sedimentary response to a rapid change in lake level in Lake Tanganyika. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 440: 647-658.

Nittrouer, CA, B Raubenheimer & RA Wheatcroft (2013) Lessons learned from comparisons of mesotidal sand- and mudflats. Continental Shelf Research 60S: S1-S12.

Law, BA, TG Milligan, PS Hill, J Newgard, RA Wheatcroft & PL Wiberg (2013) Bed sediment texture on the Shoalwater Bay tidal complex, Willapa Bay: role of flocculation. Continental Shelf Research 60S: S136-S144.

Wheatcroft, RA, R Sanders & BA Law (2013) Physical and biological factors influencing the seasonal variation in sediment strength in a tidal flat complex, Willapa Bay, WA. Continental Shelf Research 60S: S173-S184.

Wiberg, PL, RA Wheatcroft, PS Hill, TG Milligan, BA Law & J Newgard (2013) Sediment erodibility on a tidal flat – channel complex in southern Willapa Bay, WA. Continental Shelf Research 60S: S185-S197.

Barry, MA, BD Johnson, BA Law, V Page, BP Boudreau, PS Hill & RA Wheatcroft (2013) Sedimentary and geo-mechanical properties of Willapa Bay tidal flats. Continental Shelf Research 60S: S198-S207.

Wheatcroft, RA, MA Goñi, KN Richardson & JC Borgeld (2013) Natural and human impacts on centennial sediment accumulation patterns on the Umpqua River margin, Oregon. Marine Geology 339: 44-56.

Warrick, JA, MA Madej, MA Goñi & RA Wheatcroft (2013) Trends in the suspended-sediment yields of coastal rivers of northern California, 1955-2010. Journal of Hydrology 489: 108-123. 

Roy, M, J McManus, MA Goñi, Z Chase, JC Borgeld, RA Wheatcroft, JM Muratli, MR Megowan & A Mix (2013) Reactive iron and manganese distributions in seabed sediments near small mountainous rivers off Oregon and California, (USA). Continental Shelf Research 54: 67-79. 

Goñi, MA, JA Hatten, RA Wheatcroft & JC Borgeld (2013) Particulate organic matter export by two contrasting small mountainous river systems from the Pacific Northwest, USA. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 118: 1-23,

Warrick, JA, JA Hatten, GB Pasternack, AB Gray, MA Goñi & RA Wheatcroft (2012) The effects of wildfire on the sediment yield of a coastal California watershed. Geological Society of America Bulletin 124: 1130-1146.

Hastings, RH, MA Goñi, RA Wheatcroft & JC Borgeld (2012) A terrestrial organic matter depocenter on a high-energy margin: The Umpqua River system, Oregon. Continental Shelf Research 39-40: 78-91. 

Tesi, T, L Langone, MA Goñi, RA Wheatcroft, S Miserocchi & L Bertotti (2012) Compositional changes of sedimentary organic matter from a 100-yr flood deposit. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 83: 19-36.

Hatten, JA., MA Goñi & RA Wheatcroft (2012) Chemical characteristics of particulate organic matter from a small, mountainous river in the Oregon Coast Range, USA. Biogeochemistry 107: 43-66. http://dpo/

Kniskern, T, JA Warrick, KL Farnsworth, RA Wheatcroft & MA Goñi (2011) Coherence of river and ocean conditions along the US West Coast during storms. Continental Shelf Research 31: 789-805. 

Watson, EB, K Wasson, GB Pasternack, A Woolfolk, E van Dyke, AB Gray, A Pakenham, & RA Wheatcroft (2011) Applications of paleoecology to environmental management and restoration in a dynamic coastal environment. Restoration Ecology19: 765-775.

Wheatcroft, RA, MA Goñi, JA Hatten, GB Pasternack & JA Warrick (2010) The role of effective discharge in the ocean delivery of particulate organic carbon by small, mountainous river systems. Limnology and Oceanography 55: 161-171.

Law, BL, PS Hill, TG Mlligan, KJ Curran, PL Wiberg & RA Wheatcroft (2008) Size sorting of fine-grained sediments during erosion: results from the western Gulf of Lions. Continental Shelf Research 28: 1935-1946.

Wheatcroft, RA, RV Johnson & AW Stevens (2007) In situ time-series measurements of sub-seafloor sediment properties. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 32: 862-871.

Sommerfield, CK & RA Wheatcroft (2007) Late Holocene sediment accumulation on the northern California shelf: Oceanic, fluvial and anthropogenic influences. Geological Society of America Bulletin 119: 1120-1134.

Hill, PS, 10 others & RA Wheatcroft (2007)  Sediment delivery to the seabed on the Eel River continental margin.  In: Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy,   CA Nittrouer  et al. (eds.), IAS Special Pub. 37, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 50-99.

Wheatcroft, RA, PL Wiberg, CA Alexander, SJ Bentley, DE Drake, CK Harris & AS Ogston (2007) Post-depositional alteration and preservation of sedimentary strata. In: Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy, CA Nittrouer et al. (eds.), IAS Special Pub. 37, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 101-155.

Sommerfield, CK, 7 others & RA Wheatcroft (2007) Oceanic dispersal and accumulation of river sediment. In: Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy, CA Nittrouer  et al. (eds.), IAS Special Pub. 37, Blackwell  Publishing, pp. 157-212.

Stevens, AW, RA Wheatcroft & PL Wiberg (2007) Seabed properties and sediment erodibility along the western Adriatic margin, Italy. Continental Shelf Research 27: 400-416.

Wheatcroft, RA. (2006) Time-series measurements of macrobenthos and bioturbation intensity on a flood-dominated continental shelf, northern California. Progress in Oceanography 71: 88-122.

Wheatcroft, RA, AW Stevens, LM Hunt & TG Milligan (2006) The large-scale distribution and internal geometry of the fall 2000 Po River flood deposit: Evidence from digital x-radiography. Continental Shelf Research 26: 499-516.

Wheatcroft, RA & CK Sommerfield (2005) River sediment flux and shelf accumulation rates on the Pacific Northwest margin. Continental Shelf Research 25: 311-332.

Palinkas, CM, CA Nittrouer, RA Wheatcroft & L Langone (2005) The use of 7Be to identify event and seasonal sedimentation near the Po River delta, Adriatic Sea. Marine Geology 222/223: 95-112

Wheatcroft, RA & DE Drake (2003) Post-depositional alteration and preservation of sedimentary event layers on continental margins, I. The role of episodic sedimentation. Marine Geology 199: 123-137.

Decho, AW, T Kawaguchi, MA Allison, EM Louchard, RP Reid, C Stephens, KJ Voss, RA Wheatcroft & BB Taylor (2003) Sediment properties influencing upwelling spectral reflectance signatures: The “biofilm gel effect” Limnology and Oceanography 48: 431-443.

Wheatcroft, RA (2002) In situ measurements of near-surface porosity in shallow-water marine sands. IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering 27: 561-570.

Sommerfield, CK, DE Drake & RA Wheatcroft (2002) Shelf record of climatic changes in flood magnitude and frequency, north-coastal California. Geology 30: 395-398.

Goff, JA, RA Wheatcroft, H Lee, DE Drake, DJP Swift & S Fan (2002) Spatial variability of shelf sediments in the STRATAFORM natural laboratory, northern California. Continental Shelf Research 22: 1199-1223.

Sherwood, CR, DE Drake, PL Wiberg & RA Wheatcroft (2002) Prediction of the fate of p,p’-DDE in sediment on the Palos Verdes shelf, California, USA. Continental Shelf Research 22: 1025-1058.

Richardson, ML, 38 other authors & RA Wheatcroft (2001) An overview of SAX99: Environmental considerations. IEEE Journal of Ocean Engineering 26: 26-53.

Sternberg, RW, K Aagaard, D Cacchione, RA Wheatcroft, RA Beach, AT Roach & MAH Marsden (2001) Long-term near-bed observations of velocity and hydrographic properties in the northwest Barents Sea with implications for sediment transport. Continental Shelf Research 21: 509-529.

Fries, JS, CA Butman & RA Wheatcroft (2000) Ripple formation induced by biogenic mounds-reply. Marine Geology 168: 153-155

Wheatcroft, RA (2000) Oceanic flood sedimentation: A new perspective. Continental Shelf Research 20: 2059-2066.

Wheatcroft, RA & JC Borgeld (2000) Oceanic flood deposits on the northern California shelf: Large-scale distribution and small-scale physical properties. Continental Shelf Research 20: 2163-2190.

Fries, JS, CA Butman & RA Wheatcroft (1999) Ripple formation induced by biogenic mounds. Marine Geology 159: 289-303.

Wheatcroft, RA, VS Starczak & CA Butman (1998) The impact of population abundance on the deposit-feeding rate of a cosmopolitan polychaete worm. Limnology and Oceanography 43: 1948-1953.

Wheatcroft, RA, CK Sommerfield, DE Drake, JC Borgeld & CA Nittrouer (1997) Rapid and widespread dispersal of flood sediment on the northern California margin. Geology 25: 163-166.

Wheatcroft, RA & CA Butman (1997) Spatial and temporal variability in aggregated grain-size distributions, with implications for sediment dynamics. Continental Shelf Research 17: 367-390.

Wheatcroft, RA & WR Martin (1996) Spatial variation in short-term (Th-234) sediment bioturbation intensity along an organic carbon gradient. Journal of Marine Research 54: 763-792.

Wheatcroft, RA, JC Borgeld, RS Born, DE Drake, EL Leithold, CA Nittrouer & CK Sommerfield (1996) The anatomy of an oceanic flood deposit. Oceanography 9: 158-162.

Wheatcroft, RA, I Olmez & FX Pink (1994) Particle bioturbation in Massachusetts Bay: Preliminary results using a new deliberate tracer technique. Journal of Marine Research 52: 1129-1150.

Olmez, I, FX Pink & RA Wheatcroft (1994) New particle labeling technique for use in biological and physical sediment transport studies. Environmental Science and Technology 28: 1487-1490.

Wheatcroft, RA (1994) Temporal variation in bed configuration and one-dimensional bottom roughness at the mid-shelf STRESS site. Continental Shelf Research 14: 1167-1190.

Wheatcroft, RA (1992) Experimental tests for particle-size dependent bioturbation rates in the deep ocean. Limnology and Oceanography 37: 90-104.

Wheatcroft, RA (1991) Conservative tracer study of horizontal sediment mixing rates in a bathyal basin, California borderland. Journal of Marine Research 49: 565-588.

Jumars, PA, LM Mayer, JW Demming, JA Baross & RA Wheatcroft (1990) Deep-sea deposit-feeding strategies suggested by environmental and feeding constraints.  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London, Ser. A 331: 85-101.

Wheatcroft, RA. (1990) Preservation potential of sedimentary event layers. Geology 18: 843-845

Wheatcroft, RA, PA Jumars, CR Smith & ARM Nowell (1990) A mechanistic view of the particulate biodiffusion coefficient: Step lengths, rest periods and transport directions. Journal of Marine Research 48: 177-207.

Smith, CR, H Kukert, RA Wheatcroft, PA Jumars & JW Demming (1989) Vent fauna on whale remains. Nature 341: 27-28.

Jumars, PA & RA Wheatcroft (1989) Responses of benthos to changing food quality and quantity, with a focus on deposit feeding and bioturbation. In: Productivity of the Ocean: Present and Past. W.H. Berger et al. (eds.), Wiley, NY, pp. 235-253.

Wheatcroft, RA (1989) Characteristic trace-fossil associations in oxygen poor sedimentary environments: A comment. Geology 17: 674-675.

Frey, RW & RA Wheatcroft (1989) Organism-substrate relations and their impact on sedimentary petrology. Journal of Geological Education 37: 261-279.

Wheatcroft, RA, CR Smith & PA Jumars (1989) Dynamics of surficial trace assemblages in the deep sea. Deep-Sea Research 36: 71-91

Wheatcroft, RA & PA Jumars (1987) Statistical re-analysis for size dependency in deep-sea mixing. Marine Geology 77: 157-163.

Wheatcroft, RA (1986) Maestrichtian trace fossils from selected localities in the Chattahoochee River valley. In: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Field Guide 3, J Reinhardt (ed.), pp. 57-70.