Portrait of Ronald  Shreve

Ronald Shreve

Research Professor


Ron Shreve is a geologist and physicist who focuses, perhaps not surprisingly, on geological physics. He proposed that certain giant landslides rode on a layer of trapped air, which explains their low friction, sliding motion, high speed, long runout, and other special peculiarities.  He developed a comprehensive quantitative model of subduction-zone dynamics, based on bearing-lubrication and kinematic-wave theory, that with no ad hoc adjustments agrees well with available data from five diverse modern sites and the 70 million-year-old Franciscan complex of California.  He originated the random-topology model of river-channel networks, which with no tunable parameters quantitatively predicts all the orientation-free planimetric statistical properties of channel networks.  For many years his long-term goal, still not attained, has been to understand the transport of sand and gravel by flowing water.  For this purpose he uses slow-motion cinematography, laser-doppler and particle-image velocimetry, and particle-force measurements in laboratory flumes.