PTYS/LPL Faculty

Kuiper 409B ∙ HAR 246A


Victor Baker

Regents' Professor

Ph.D., 1971, Colorado

Years with LPL: 1981 to present

Astrobiology, Planetary Surfaces, Geomorphology

Research interests divide into the areas of planetary geology, Earth geomorphology and paleohydrology, and issues of science and society in relation to policy, the environment, and philosophy.

My research in planetary paleohydrology focuses on the morphology, genesis, and geological/geophysical/hydrological implications of various channels, valleys, and related landforms on Mars and Venus. My students and I relate these geomorphological features to volcanic, tectonic, and atmospheric processes. Other important considerations for Mars include the conditions that may have provided habitats for life.

I also conduct field investigations of the Late Pleistocene megafloods that impacted what is now the northwestern United States. We are applying 2-D computational models to our analyses of this flooding, which provides a terrestrial analog to ancient channel-forming processes on Mars.

For the past 30 years, my students and I have been investigating Holocene paleoflood records from the southwestern U.S. We have also been studying the geomorphology of the spectacular southern Arizona debris flows of late July 2006. The applied flood-hazard work leads to concern with public policy issues and the public perception of science.

Victor R. Baker is Regents’ Professor of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, Geosciences, and Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona. He received a B.S. in Geology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1967 and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Colorado in 1971. After working as a hydrologist and geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey in New York and Colorado, he was on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin from 1971-1981, advancing to the rank of Full Professor.  In 1981 he moved to the Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, first a Full Professor, and then in 1988 as one of the first University of Arizona's Regents' Professors.  From 1996-2004 he was the Department Head of the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources (now Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences), University of Arizona

Baker has authored or co-authored more than 1100 scientific contributions, including 19 books, 440 research articles and chapters, more than 550 abstracts and short research reports (nearly all of them associated with papers that were presented at professional meetings, conferences, and workshops), 34 extended technical reports; 42 encyclopedia articles; 39 published book reviews; plus guidebook contributions and various other writings, including popular works in science. His research has concerned paleoflood hydrology (a field of study that he defined in the 1970s and 1980s); flood geomorphology; channels, valleys, and geomorphic features on Mars and Venus; catastrophic Pleistocene megaflooding in the northwestern U.S. and central Asia; history/philosophy of Earth and planetary sciences; and the interface of environmental science with public policy. Professor Baker has been President of the Geological Society of America (1998), Chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Section on Geology and Geography (1992-93 and 2008-2009), and President of the International Union for Quaternary Research Commission on Global Continental Paleohydrology (1995-99). Among his honors are Foreign Membership in the Polish Academy of Sciences (1994); Honorary Fellowship in the European Union of Geosciences (1999); the David Linton Award of the British Society for Geomorphology (1995); the Distinguished Scientist Award (2002) and Distinguished Career Award (2010), both from The Geological Society of America Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division; the Inaugural International Lectureship of the Geological Society of America (2012-2013), a Fulbright-Hays Senior Research Fellowship (1979-1880); an Indo-American Fellowship (1987-1988); and professional society Fellowships respectively in the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Geological Society of America, and the British Society for Geomorphology. His work on megafloods has been featured in multiple television documentaries for PBS, BBC, and the National Geographic, Discovery, and History Channels, including the 2005 NOVA production “Mystery of the Megaflood” and the 2017 NOVA production “Volatile Earth” episode on “Killer Floods.”

Current Grants

Paleoflood Hydrology of the Colorado River     

Former Spacecraft Involvement

  • Skylab, PI
  • Apollo-Soyuz, Co-Investigator 
  • Viking, guest investigator 
  • Magellan, Radar Investigation Team 
  • Mars Odyssey, Gamma Ray Spectrometer Team 
  • NASA Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment

Former Students

  • Patrick Harner, 2015 (M.S. PTYS)
  • Andrea Jones, 2009 (M.S. Geosciences)
  • Windy Jaeger, 2005 (Ph.D. PTYS)
  • Daniel Berman, 2003 (M.S. Geosciences)
  • Devon Burr, 2003 (Ph.D. Geosciences)
  • Randy Tufts, 1998 (Ph.D. Geosciences)
  • Jonathan Pedicino, 1996 (Ph.D. PTYS)
  • Jeffrey Johnson, 1994 (Ph.D. Geosciences)
  • Goro Komatsu, 1993 (Ph.D. PTYS)
  • David Melendrez, 1991 (M.S. Geosciences)
  • Virginia Gulick, 1987 (M.S. Geosciences), 1993 (Ph.D. Geosciences)

Former Postdocs

  • Goro Komatsu (1994-1996)
  • Hideaki Miyamoto (2002-2004)


Based on Google Scholar and NASA ADS: NASA ADS Author search: Victor R. Baker

Refereed publications: Calendar Years 2017 through June 2020

Baker, V.R., 2020, Global megaflood paleohydrology, in Herget, J. and Fontana, A.,  editors, Palaeohydrology.  Geography of the Physical Environment: Springer, Heidelberg, p. 3-28.

Baker, V.R., 2020, The modern evolution of geomorphology: Binghamton and personal perspectives, 1970-2019 and beyond: Geomorphology, v. 366, 10668 DOI:            

Baker, V.R., 2019, The abductive approach to synthetic autonomous reasoning, in Proc. SPIE 10982, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications XI; (7p.) 1098224, (13 May 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2519151                                

Baker, V.R., and Carling, P.A., 2020, Global Late Quaternary Megafloods, in Shroder, J. (Editor in Chief), Wohl, E.E. (Ed.), Treatise on Geomorphology, 2nd Edition,  Vol. 9, Fluvial Geomorphology: Elsevier, 8 p.                     

Rodriguez, J.A.P., Noe Dobrea, E., Kargel, J.S., Baker, V.R., and 5 others, 2020, Oldest highlands of Mars may be massive dust fallout deposits: Nature Scientific Reports 10: 10347.                                     

Dohm, J.M., Maruyama, S., Kido, M., and Baker, V.R., 2018, A possible anorthositic continent of early Mars and the role of planetary size for the inception of Earth-like life: Geoscience Frontiers, v. 9, p. 1085-1098.                    

Pondrelli, M., Baker, V.R., Hauber, E., and Rossi, A.P, 2018, Geologic tools, Chapter 2, in Rossi, A.P. and Van Gasselt, S., editors, Planetary Geology: Springer, Heidelberg, p. 15-31.                                                                                                     

Liu, T., Ji, L., Baker, V. R., Harden, T. M., & Cline, M. L. (2020). Holocene extreme paleofloods and their climatological context, Upper Colorado River Basin, USA. Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment,

Jim E. O’Connor, Victor R. Baker, Richard B. Waitt, Larry N. Smith, Charles M. Cannon, David L. George, Roger P. Denlinger, The Missoula and Bonneville floods—A review of ice-age megafloods in the Columbia River basin, Earth-Science Reviews, 2020,103181,ISSN 0012-8252,

Carling, P. A., Baker, V. R., Herget, J. Catastrophic freshwater paleoflooding on Earth 2020ESRv..20403177C

Rodriguez, J. A. P., Leonard, G. J., Kargel, J. S., Domingue, D., Berman, D. C., Banks, M., Zarroca, M., Linares, R., Marchi, S., Baker, V. R., Webster, K. D., Sykes, M. The Chaotic Terrains of Mercury Reveal a History of Planetary Volatile Retention and Loss in the Innermost Solar System 2020NatSR..10.4737R

Liu, T., Greenbaum, N., Baker, V. R., Ji, L., Onken, J., Weisheit, J., Porat, N., Rittenour, T. Paleoflood hydrology on the lower Green River, upper Colorado River Basin, USA: An example of a naturalist approach to flood-risk analysis 2020JHyd..58024337L

Fink, W., Baker, V. R., Brooks, A. J.-W., Flammia, M., Dohm, J. M., Tarbell, M. A. Globally optimal rover traverse planning in 3D using Dijkstra's algorithm for multi-objective deployment scenarios 2019P&SS..17904707F

Esquivel-Muelbert, Bennett, Sullivan, Baker, Gavish, Johnson, Wang, Chambers-Ostler, Giannichi, Gomes, Kalamandeen, Pattnayak, Fauset A Spatial and Temporal Risk Assessment of the Impacts of El Niño on the Tropical Forest Carbon Cycle: Theoretical Framework, Scenarios, and Implications 2019Atmos..10..588E

Fairén, A. G., Schulze-Makuch, D., Whyte, L., Parro, V., Pavlov, A., Gómez-Elvira, J., Azua-Bustos, A., Fink, W., Baker, V. Planetary Protection and the astrobiological exploration of Mars: Proactive steps in moving forward 2019AdSpR..63.1491F

Rodriguez, J. A. P., Baker, V. R., Liu, T., Zarroca, M., Travis, B., Hui, T., Komatsu, G., Berman, D. C., Linares, R., Sykes, M. V., Banks, M. E., Kargel, J. S. The 1997 Mars Pathfinder Spacecraft Landing Site: Spillover Deposits from an Early Mars Inland Sea 2019NatSR...9.4045R

Balbas, A. M., Barth, A. M., Clark, P. U., Clark, J., Caffee, M., O'Connor, J., Baker, V. R., Konrad, K., Bjornstad, B. 10Be dating of late Pleistocene megafloods and Cordilleran Ice Sheet retreat in the northwestern United States 2017Geo....45..583B

Latrubesse, E. M., Arima, E. Y., Dunne, T., Park, E., Baker, V. R., D'Horta, F. M., Wight, C., Wittmann, F., Zuanon, J., Baker, P. A., Ribas, C. C., Norgaard, R. B., Filizola, N., Ansar, A., Flyvbjerg, B., Stevaux, J. C. Damming the rivers of the Amazon basin 2017Natur.546..363L

Baker, V. R. Debates—Hypothesis testing in hydrology: Pursuing certainty versus pursuing uberty 2017WRR....53.1770B

Public Lecture "Let the River Speak! Paleoflood Hydrology of the Colorado River Canyons." I delivered this public lecture on September 2, 2018, at the Coconino Center for the Arts, for the "Colorado River Days" Celebration, Flagstaff, Arizona.

I presented the Invited Talk "History of the Great Floods of the Colorado River" to a public audience on July 18, 2019, in Moab, Utah (under auspices of Utah State Univ. and Center for Colorado River Studies, Moab, Utah)

I presented the invited talk “Global Megaflood Science” to the Ice Age Floods Institute, Lower Columbia River Chapter at the Tualatin Heritage Center, Portland, Oregon, July 16, 2020.

I presented the invited talk "Lake Lewis and the Ice-Age Megafloods --History of the Controversy and Current Science Investigations" to the Ice Age Floods Institute, Lake Lewis Chapter, August 11, 2020.

Available filesSizeCreated
PDF icon BAKER abbrevCV2020.pdf437.68 KBAugust 3, 2020

Last updated on September 11, 2020