Dr. Jim Durbin, Associate Professor of Geology

Just another day in my geomorphology lab!

Go to the Geog 112 Earth Systems Science web page Advanced Physical Geology web page
Go to Jim Durbin's Geol 161 Physical Geology web page Go to the Geol 407 Geomorphology web page
Go to the Geog 215 Climatology web page Go to the Geol 465 Intro to GIS web page


Here at USI

I teach courses in Earth Systems Science (GEOG 112), Climatology (GEOG 215), Physical Geology (GEOL 161), Advanced Physical Geology (GEOL 261) Concepts in Environmental Science (GEOL311), Geomorphology (GEOL 407), Soils (GEOL 410), and Quaternary environments (GEOL 455), GIS (GEOL 465) and Regional Geological field excursions (Geol 390) whenever possible. My academic and research training deals with geology, in particular geomorphology (processes that shape the landscape) and the factors that force changes to occur. Of interest to me is the aspect of climate change over the last 120,000 years. I also have training in climatology, stratigraphy, and hydrogeology.

Personal information

Jim Durbin is a native Hoosier who grew up near the village of Broad Ripple (David Letterman attended high school there) with my younger brother,and parents. On a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas in 1977, I realized that I wanted to understand what I was observing. In other words, I was hooked. Even before that, as a 10 year old kid in 4th grade, I thought fossils, especially dinosaurs, were so fascinating that I decided that geology was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Of course I refuse to grow up, but I did become a geologist anyway!

I attended my first geology class as a high school sophomore . The geology classes were abolished the following year and replaced by an Earth Science class. However, I was already hooked on geology. From there I attended college, where I played baseball (pitcher, utility fielder), and studied geology. I received my B.S. degree in Geology from Indiana University - Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 1988. I worked for a couple of years (6 months or so as a consulting geologist and 18 months with USGS water resources office in Indianapolis) before deciding to get my advanced degrees and pursue what I liked to do best; teach.

From there I went to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC) -(Go Salukis!...Saluki?: an Egyptian hunting dog that looks like long haired, ferocious greyhound), where I received my M.S. in Geology in 1993. My research (Dr. Steven Esling, advisor) involved mapping alpine glacial deposits in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming (up in the cirques, sippin' a cup o' java!). I used soil development and weathering characteristics in cobbles to differentiate between deposits of Bull Lake and Pinedale glacial advances. While at SIUC, I started work on my Ph.D. (Dr. Michael Blum, advisor).

I then attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) to complete my research with Dr. Blum in 1999. My research involves understanding geomorphic response to environmental changes. I accomplish this by examining the surface deposits and determining the stratigraphic relationships for the late Quaternary alluvium in my study area, the Lower Nueces River Valley near Corpus Christi, TX. The alluvial stratigraphic architecture and geomorphic expression of the alluvium is related to sea-level variations and climatic changes that have occurred over the last 120,000 years, and most recently to human activity. In simplified terms, I look at dirt deposited by the rivers to see how the river has changed it's behavior over time, presumably in response to changes in rainfall, temperature, vegetation, sea level, and human activity.

I try to go by the motto "Work hard and play even harder!" However, if I can't do both things well, then I don't play at all. I enjoy teaching very much, and I have been at USI since 1998. My passions, aside from Geology and the Earth Sciences in general, include my family, my wife and my son, my Fids (furry and feathered "kids" including my dogs (3), cats (4), and birds (4)), playing and watching sports of every type (Basketball- Hoosiers, Salukis, Screaming Eagles, Pacers; Football- Huskers, Colts, and Dolphins; Baseball- Reds, college world series), hiking, camping, fishing, riding motorcycles, macintosh computers, cartoons (The Simpsons and Spongebob RULE!), "The Onion", automobile racing (Indy 500 and Brickyard 400), barbecue, Jimmy Buffett, the Blues, and a good place in which to enjoy any or all of the above!