Image: Science Instructor Peter BienekDr. Jim Beget
Professor of Geology
Department of Geology and Geophysics and
Geophysical Institute, UAF

Ph.D., 1981 University of Washington (Seattle); M.S., 1977 University of Washington (Seattle); B.A., 1974 Columbia University.
Professor Beget specializes in the study of the recent history of Earth, with a special focus on natural hazards. His research topics include deciphering the eruption history of Alaska volcanoes, and his study areas have included Redoubt, Augustine, Spurr, Ilimana, Katmai, Makushin, Okmok and other major volcanoes. Professor Beget has pioneered the use of paleo-tsunami deposits as tools to decipher the history of prehistoric great earthquakes and eruptions, and proposed that cultural transitions in the archeologic record of Alaska reflect the effects of past natural disasters on native peoples. Professor Beget and his students at the University of Alaska also reconstruct the history of volcanoes by studying the distribution of major volcanic ash falls (tephras) during the last two million years in Alaska. Tephra deposits are being studied in areas near Fairbanks and the central Alaska Range, as well as near source volcanoes on the Aleutian Peninsula and the Wrangell Mountains. Studies of the age, volume, and geochemical characteristics of ash layers are necessary to develop the tephrochronologic dating method for Quaternary sediments in Alaska. Professor Beget is also reconstructing the history of climate change in Alaska by investigating the stratigraphy and physical characteristics of thick silt deposits formed in low-lying parts of Alaska and elsewhere in the Arctic during the last four million years.

Professor Beget has been involved with the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) since its founding in 1986, and also receives research support from the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, the State of Alaska, and other agencies. He is a past president of the Commission on Tephrochronology and Volcanology of the International Quaternary Association (INQUA-COTAV).