PTYS/LPL Faculty

Victor Baker

Regents' Professor
Planetary surfaces, Geomorphology
Ph.D., 1971, Colorado

Kuiper 409B ∙ HAR 246A

Years with LPL: 1981 to present


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.

Current Grants

  • Obliquity-controlled Water Vapor/Trace Gas in the Martian Greenhouse Cycle (NASA-JPL)
  • Geomorphic Investigations of Martian Channel Morphology (NASA)

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

Student Collaborations/Advising

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)


Complete publications list available from: NASA ADS Author search: Victor R. Baker

Refereed publications (NASA ADS): Calendar Year 2016 through July 2018

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

Komatsu, G., Baker, V. R., Arzhannikov, S. G., Gallagher, R., Arzhannikova, A. V., Murana, A., Oguchi, T.  Catastrophic flooding, palaeolakes, and late Quaternary drainage reorganization in northern Eurasia 2016IGRv...58.1693K

Arzhannikov, S. G., Baker, V., Ivanov, A. V.  Megafloods of Northern Asia 2016IGRv...58.1691A

Baker, V.R., Bjornstad, B., Gaylord, D., Smith, G., Meyer, S., Alho, P., Breckenridge, R., Sweeney, M.R., and Zreda, M., 2016, Pleistocene megaflood landscapes of the Channeled Scabland, in Lewis, R.S., and Schmidt, K.L., eds., Exploring the Geology of the Inland Northwest: Geological Society of America Field Guide 41, Boulder, Colorado, p. 1-73.

Rodriguez, J. A. P., Zarroca, M., Linares, R., Gulick, V., Weitz, C. M., Yan, J., Fairén, A. G., Miyamoto, H., Platz, T., Baker, V., Kargel, J., Glines, N., Higuchi, K.  Groundwater flow induced collapse and flooding in Noctis Labyrinthus, Mars 2016P&SS..124....1R

Rodriguez, J. A. P., Fairén, A. G., Tanaka, K. L., Zarroca, M., Linares, R., Platz, T., Komatsu, G., Miyamoto, H., Kargel, J. S., Yan, J., Gulick, V., Higuchi, K., Baker, V. R., Glines, N.  Tsunami waves extensively resurfaced the shorelines of an early Martian ocean 2016NatSR...625106R

Fairén, A. G., Dohm, J. M., Rodríguez, J. A. P., Uceda, E. R., Kargel, J., Soare, R., Cleaves, H. J., Oehler, D., Schulze-Makuch, D., Essefi, E., Banks, M. E., Komatsu, G., Fink, W., Robbins, S., Yan, J., Miyamoto, H., Maruyama, S., Baker, V. R.  The Argyre Region as a Prime Target for in situ Astrobiological Exploration of Mars 2016AsBio..16..143F

Rettberg, P., Anesio, A. M., Baker, V. R., Baross, J. A., Cady, S. L., Detsis, E., Foreman, C. M., Hauber, E., Ori, G. G., Pearce, D. A., Renno, N. O., Ruvkun, G., Sattler, B., Saunders, M. P., Smith, D. H., Wagner, D., Westall, F.  Planetary Protection and Mars Special Regions—A Suggestion for Updating the Definition 2016AsBio..16..119R

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PDF icon Baker_abbrevCV082017.pdf930.63 KBDecember 12, 2018

Last updated on May 7, 2018