University of Minnesota Duluth
MyU | Search | People | Departments | Events | News
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Planetary Processes Laboratory: People



Vicki Hansen

McKnight Presidential Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

I am a structural geologist/tectonisist with interests in large scale tectonic processes of planetary bodies. Some of the regional field areas on Earth that I have worked on include: the western U.S., Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, and Antarctica. Over the last 10-15 years my students and I have concentrated on mapping large regions of Venus, commonly with emphasis on tectonic and magmatic processes. The goal is to interpret geologic relations at all scales, and decipher local, regional, and global scale geological histories in order to understand Venus' evolution and dynamic processes through time. Specific topics on Venus include: crustal plateau formation and implications for Venus evolution, deformation belt formation, coronae evolution, circular low formation, Venus resurfacing (evidence does NOT support catastrophic resurfacing of Venus contrary to popular views), lowland processes, and tessera-terrain evolution. My students and I have been involved in 1:5 million scale mapping of eight VMaps (30°x25°) for publication through the USGS, and we have recently begun 1:10 million scale mapping of two quadrangles (each 120° x 57°).


Kevin Thaisen

Post-doctoral research associate


My research can best be described as comparative planetary geology. I study the processes that influence the surfaces of the terrestrial planets. This includes impact cratering, volcanism, glacial, fluvial, and aeolian features, structural modification through tectonic processes, and composition. Most of my work is done with remotely sensed data from a variety of orbiting spacecraft, landers, and rovers, and incorporated into a geographic information system (GIS) to aid in understanding the relationships between multiple datasets.

My work has included studies related to the Moon, Mars, meteorites, diamond exploration, and now I'm getting the opportunity to work on Venus. I am also very interested in in-situ resource utilization and the potential it holds for human space exploration, and in developing programs for public outreach.


Current Graduate Student


David Tovar M.S. candidate


I am a geologist from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia interested in planetary geology; in particular planetary volcanism and impact cratering.  I had the opportunity to work at the Colombian Geological Survey (SGC) doing geological mapping and identifying possible Impact Craters in Colombian territory.

My B.S. thesis entitled “Comparison between major volcanic events on Earth and super-eruptions on Jupiter’s moon Io” was the first research on Planetary Geology in Colombia’s history and was awarded with the Lleras Codazzi prize, granted by the Colombian Geological Society.


While at the University of Minnesota, my work will be focused on Venus’ volcanic features and tectonics; nonetheless, topics related to planetary geology such as meteorites, astrobiology and exoplanets are my passion too.



Past Graduate Students


Jonathan Dyess Ph.D., UMD, 2014

Dissertation: Multi-scale Structural and Kinematic Analysis of a Neoarchean Shear Zone in Northeastern Minnesota: Implications for Assembly of the Southern Superior Province


Jennifer Goldner M.S., UMD, 2014

co-advised with J. Goodge; geologist, RioTinto Exploration

Thesis: Structure and Metamorphism along the Burntside Lake Shear Zone near Ely Minnesota


Christopher Goscinak M.S., UMD, 2014              

Barr Engineering, Duluth MN

Thesis: Quartz Fabric Analysis of the Kawishiwi Shear Zone, NE, Minnesota


Aaron Slonecker M.S., UMD, 2013              

Science & Planetarium Programs Specialist at Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

Thesis: Geologic and Structural Mapping of Northern Tellus Regio, Venus & Plate


Melanie Graupner M.S., UMD, 2013            

Instructor, University of Mississippi; Morco Geological Services

Thesis: Geologic and Structural Mapping of Southern Tellus Regio, Venus &  Plates


Tom K. Johnson M.S., UMD, 2009              

LBH Consultants

Thesis: Structural, Kinematic, and Hydrothermal Fluid Investigation of the Gold-bearing Murray Shear Zone, Northeastern Minnesota


Susan Marie Karberg M.S., UMD, 2009             

Susan Cramer, Senior Geologist, SandRidge Energy, Oklahoma City, OK

Thesis: Structural and Kinematic Analysis of the Mud Creek Shear Zone, Northeastern Minnesota; Implications for Archean (2.76 GA) Tectonics


Emily Elizabeth Bjonnes M.S., UMD, 2009             

Petroleum Geo-Services

Thesis: The Plausibility of Venusian Equilibrium Resurfacing Using Monte Carlo Models


Sally Kay Goodman M.S., UMD, 2008             

Instructor, St. Cloud Technical and Community College; caregiver

Thesis: Structural and Kinematic Analysis of the Kawishiwi Shear Zone, Superior Province: Insight on Granite-Greenstone Terrain Tectonics and Archean (2.7 GA) Crustal Elevation


Emerald Josphine Erickson M.S., UMD, 2008             

Emerald Mulanax, Geologist, Farallon Consulting, L.L.C.

Thesis: Structural and Kinematic Analysis of the Shagawa Lake Shear Zone, Superior Province, Northeastern, Minnesota: Implications for Archean (2.75 GA) Crustal Evolution


Bhairavi Shankar M.S., UMD, 2008             

University of Western Ontario, PhD 2013;  Postdoctoral Fellow at Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX)

Thesis: A Global Survey of Circular Lows: A Subset of Coronae, Venus


Roger Allen Bannister M.S., UMD, 2006                           


Thesis: Geologic Analysis of Deformation in the Interior of Artemis (Venus, 34°S, 132°E) & Plate


Nicholas Lang Ph.D., UMD, 2006                           

Assistant Professor, Mercyhurst University

Dissertation: Geological Processes in Venus’ Lowlands


Kelly Michelle McDaniel M.S., UMD, 2005             

completed MS degree in Forensic Science

Thesis: Circular Lows.  A Genetically Distinct Subset of Coronae on Venus?


Iván López Ruiz-Labranderas Ph.D.,  2004             

Faculty,  BIOLOGÍA Y GEOLOGÍA, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, Spain

Dissertation: Geology of the Helen Planitia Quadrangle (V52), Venus: Volcanism, Tectonism, and Geological History


Duncan Young Ph.D., SMU, 2003            

Research Science Associate V, Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas, Austin

Dissertation: Geological Constraints on Planetary History: Rusalka Planitia, Venus


Leslie F. Bleamaster III Ph.D., SMU, 2003             

Trinity University; and Planetary Science Institute

Dissertation: The Ix-Chel, Kuanja, Vir-Ava Chasmata System, Venus:  Geologic History, Crustal Structure, and Magma Production & Transport


Rebecca Ghent Ph.D., SMU, 2002             

Associate Professor, University of Toronto; and Planetary Science Institute

Dissertation: An Analysis of Tectonic Structures in Venusian Crustal Plateaus: Structure, Kinematics, and Numerical Modeling


Brian Banks M.S., SMU, 1999              

Senior Vice President at Schnabel Engineering

Thesis: Intratessera Flood-Lava Basins (ITBs) Constrain Timing of Crustal Plateau Structures, Tellus, Venus


Douglas H. Oliver Ph.D., SMU, 1996             

Oliver GeoServices, Owner

Dissertation: Structural and Kinematic Evolution Studies of the Proterozoic Pinal Schist, Southeast Arizona, and Maxwell Montes, Venus


Myra Keep Ph.D., SMU, 1994             

Professor, University of Western Australi, Perth, Australia

Dissertation: Structural, Kinematic, and Thermochronometric Studies of the Teslin Suture Zone, South-Central Yukon Territory



Gail Davis Sease M.S., SMU, 1993

Instructor, various community colleges and other schools; caregiver



Past UMD Undergraduate Students


Adam Brewer

Brandon Brayfield

Keri Cole

David Demmer

Kirsti Hakala

Joe Jacobs

Grace Johnson

Mark Machacek

Taylor Nordberg

Matthew Pendleton

Adam Salzer

Erik Tharelson

Gavin Wagoner











© 2024 University of Minnesota Duluth
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Last modified on 12/29/14 12:38 PM
University of Minnesota Campuses
Crookston | Duluth | Morris
Rochester | Twin Cities