Emeritus Research Professor
Participating Faculty, UW Quaternary Research Center, UW Astrobiology Program
Fax: 206-543-0489 (shared)
Interests: Glacial geology, remote sensing, Mars landscape evolution
Research Groups: Astrobiology, Climate and Paleoclimate, Quaternary Research, Remote Sensing, Planetary Sciences
Gillespie is the main adviser for three students, Iryna Danilina, Matthew Smith, and J. Batbaatar. Danilina has created a thermal
Alan Gillespie is a Quaternary geologist and directs the Remote Sensing Laboratory. His research interests are in glacial geology, geochronology, and landscape evolution, on Earth and Mars. His interest in remote sensing is in both its theory and application to these problems. Gillespie is currently funded by NASA and the Department of Energy.
Gillespie has been investigating asynchrony in glacier advances across Central Asia since 1991, research that led to the recognition that this area consists of three or more climatic regions. The last maximum advances in the Kyrgyz Tien Shan and farther east in the same range differed by tens of thousands of years. This intricate granularity is not yet explained fully. Gillespie is also investigating the origin of the giant canyons of the Valles Marineris system on Mars, working with John Adams, Dave Montgomery and others to suggest that geothermal dewatering of hydrous salts distributed throughout the 10-km-deep regolith of the Martian highlands resulted in the removal of material through faults and aquifers on a gigantic scale. The canyons are, essentially, collapse features in a salt karst terrain.
Gillespie is also working on hyperspectral thermal infrared remote sensing, using thermal radiation emitted from the land surface to determine mineral composition. He has served as the Chair or Co-Chair for 16 graduate students, and served on the thesis committee for 33 others. He has authored or co-authored 4 books and 185 articles (59 as 1st author). Since 2000 he has been Sr. Editor for the journal Quaternary Research.