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Don Lowe was born and raised in Sacramento, California, and attended Stanford University for his undergraduate study. In his sophomore year, he chanced to take a class in physical geology from Ben Page, which set the course of his future professional career. He decided to go back "east" for his graduate study and enrolled in geology at the University of Illinois, where he received a PhD degree in 1967. He subsequently was awarded a post-doctoral associate position at the US Geological Survey (1968-70) and started his first academic position as an Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University in 1970. He returned to Stanford in 1988 as a Professor and has continued his education, teaching, and research there since then. His research falls into two broad areas: deep-water sedimentation and Archean sedimentary systems. In the former, he examines the processes of sediment transport and deposition in the deep-sea, resulting lithofacies and lithofacies associations, stacking and facies pattern as reflecting environments of deposition, and overall basin history. The Archean research focuses on rocks older than 3.0 billion-years-old and aims to use sedimentary principles to investigate early surface environments, the nature and role of early organisms, the role of giant meteorite impacts in early crustal development, and Archean basinal settings and tectonics.
The project involves a group of 5 professional geologists aimed at studying the sedimentation, diagenesis, and reservoir architecture and quality of syn-rift Miocene deep-water strata in the Midyan area, northwestern Saudi Arabia.
The project, which involves investigators from the SETI Institute and Stanford, is studying the origin of clays in the Mawrth Vallis region of Mars
ResearchI enjoy the historical aspects of geology, looking back in time to explore past events and ancient life. My research and that of my students is focused in two main areas. We use the techniques of sedimentary geology and geochemistry to explore the Earth's earliest surface environments, life, and crustal development, generally before 2.5 billion years ago. Much of this research is focused in South Africa and Western Australia. The other half of my research deals with deep-water sedimentation, especially using outcrops and cores to study the processes by which coarse sediment is transported and deposited in the deep sea.TeachingMy teaching is focused on topics in sedimentary geology and techniques for interpreting the sedimentary record. This includes an undergraduate/graduate course (co-taught with Professor Steve Graham) in sedimentary geology and depositional systems, and graduate courses in sedimentation mechanics, sedimentary petrography, and sedimentary environments.Professional ActivitiesI engage in a variety of activities in support of sedimentary geology, especially deep-water sedimentation and Archean sedimentology. I am currently Chair of the SEPM Committeee for the Arnold Bouma Conferences on Deep-Water Geoscience and a member of the Subcommission on Precambrian Stratigraphy of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. I have recently stepped down after 27 years as co-director of the Stanford Project On Deep-water Depositional Systems (SPODDS) and have served on numerous school and departmental committees, especially those aimed at setting goals and directions for long-range planning and graduate admissions, and on the editorial boards of a number of professional journals and on numerous program, grant, and fellowship review panels.