Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

First Advisor

Jonathan M Harbor

Committee Member 1

Arjen P Stroeven

Committee Member 2

Nathaniel A Lifton


Central Asia is home to some of the highest and most spectacular mountain ranges in the world, including the Tian Shan and Altai Mountains, and plays a major role in global and regional climate and hydrology. Understanding the glacial history of this vast region is important for several reasons, but in particular there is a general lack of paleoclimatic data from this highly continental region, at the confluence of major climate systems, and glaciers are sensitive monitors of climate change. This thesis examines the pattern and history of glacial deposition and erosion in the Tian Shan and Altai Mountains using a combined approach including 1) geomorphological mapping, 2) spatial analysis of glacial geomorphology, 3) hypsometry, 4) Equilibrium Line Altitudes (ELA), and 5) 10Be exposure dating of erratic boulders on glacial landforms. Preliminary mapping of the Altai Mountains suggests the area mainly experienced alpine style glaciations, with glacial centers as ice caps and ice fields located around the higher mountainous areas. This is consistent with previous work on the Tian Shan. For the Tian Shan we have new