Paul Hanson

Paul Hanson

  • Contact Information
  • My Story
  • Publications
  • Background
  • Interests
  • Grants
  • Advising
  • Courses Taught

Contact Information

TitleQuaternary Geologist | Director, Great Plains Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit
Faculty RankProfessor
Address611 South Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
  • office: 402-472-7762
  • fax: 402-472-2946
VitaeDownload file


My Story

Hi, I'm Paul Hanson, and I'm the associate director of the School of Natural Resources. I am also an assistant professor in SNR. I'm associated with the geography/GIScience faculty and the geology and soils faculty.

Paul Hanson sampling a Wisconsin River terrace fill for optical dating.
Paul Hanson sampling a Wisconsin River terrace fill for optical dating.

My main research interests are studying the responses of river, hillslope, and eolian (wind-deposited) systems to climate change. My research goals include studying the evolution of the Platte River system, the responses of rivers and dune systems to climate change in the recent past, and the causes for stream incision on the western Great Plains and the central Rocky Mountains.

For much of this work, I use optical dating techniques (aka "Optically Stimulated Luminescence," a relatively new dating technique that is used for recently deposited geological materials) to construct chronologies of river, dune, and hillslope sediments. These studies are important for identifying the long-term climatic conditions in Nebraska, particularly concerning the nature of drought events and changes in flood magnitudes in the region.

Other aspects of my research involve producing surficial geologic maps, and studying groundwater resources in eastern Nebraska. These kinds of studies are important to achieve a better understanding of our groundwater and other geological resources that are of economic importance in Nebraska.

I teach courses in physical geography and lead natural resource field trip courses to the Boundary Waters in Minnesota and Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Selected Publications

Hallum, D.R., Hanson, P.R., Tucker, S.T., Diffendal, R.F. Jr., 2020, Hydrogeology and Geology of the Lower North and South Platte Rivers of Nebraska, Nebraska Geological Society Field Trip 2020, Guidebook No. 37, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Conservation and Survey Division, 36p.Online
Hanson, P., Howard, L. 2019. Surficial Geology of the Monroe 7.5' Quadrangle, Nebraska. Lincoln, Ne: Conservation and Survey Division, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Joeckel, M., Hanson, P. R., Howard, L. 2019. Solving a periglacial puzzle: Pleistocene polygonal ground in north-central Nebraska. Great Plains Research. (29): 153-168.Online
Johnson, B., Halfen, A., Spencer, J., Hanson, P., Young, A., Mason, J. 2019. Late MIS 3 Stabilization of dunes in the eastern Central Great Plains, USA. Aeolian Research. 36: 68-81.
Miao, X., Hanson, P., Stohr, C., Wang, H. 2019. Evidence supporting Holocene loess in Illinois with new proxy data and historical, regional perspectives on loess deposition in the upper Mississippi River valley. Quaternary Science Reviews. 216: 119-123.Online
Aslan, A., Karlstrom, K., Heizler, M., Kirby, E., Granger, D., Hanson, P., Feathers, J., Mahan, S. Controls on patterns of upper Colorado River bedrock incision. Geological Society of America.
Berry, M., Taylor, E. M., Slate, J., Paces, J., Hanson, P., Brandt, T. R. (2018). Geologic map of the Fort Morgan 7.5’ quadrangle, Morgan County, Colorado (vol. USGS Map 3408). United States Geological Survey.Online
Berry, M., Taylor, E., Slate, J., Paces, J., Hanson, P., Brandt, T. (2018). Geologic map of the Weldona 7.5’ quadrangle, Morgan County, Colorado (vol. USGS Map 3396). United States Geological Survey.Online
Hanson, P., Larsen, A., Howard, L. (2018). Surficial geology of the Axtell East 7.5’ Quadrangle, Nebraska. Conservation and Survey Division.Online
Huckleberry, G., Henderson, K., Hanson, P. (2018). Flood-damaged canals and human response, AD 1000-1400, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Journal of Field Archaeology, 43, 604-618.
Joeckel, R. M., Diffendal, Jr., R. F., Hanson, P. R., Korus, J. T. (2018). Geologic mapping in Nebraska: Old rocks, new maps, fresh insights. Great Plains Research, 28, 119-147.
Martin, S., Funch, R., Hanson, P., Yoo, E.-H. (2018). Massive 4000-year-old termite populations continue to survive in NE Brazil’. Current Biology, 28.
Mason, J., Miao, X., Johnson, W., Hanson, P., Swinehart, J., Loope, D. (2018). Aeolian systems of the central Great Plains under glacial and interglacial climates: Progress and new questions. CANQUA/AMQUA.
Miao, X., Hanson, P., Stohr, C. J., Wang, H. (2018). Holocene loess in Illinois revealed by OSL dating: implications for stratigraphy and geoarchaeology of the Midwest United States. Quaternary Science Reviews, 200, 253-261.
Young, A., Hanson, P., Larsen, A., Howard, L. (2018). Surficial geology of the Edgar NW 7.5’ Quadrangle, Nebraska. Conservation and Survey Division.Online
Hooke, R. L., Hanson, P. 2017. Late- and Post-glacial history of the East Branch of the Penobscot River, Maine. Atlantic Geology, 285-300.Online
Mason, J., Jacobs, P., Guley, K., Reyerson, P., Hanson, P. 2016. Parent Material Influence on Soil Response to Vegetation Change, Southeastern Minnesota, USA. Catena. 275:1-17.Online
Miao, X., Wang, H., Hanson, P., Mason, J., Liu, X. 2016. A new method to constrain soil development time using both OSL and radiocarbon dating. Geoderma. 261:93-100.Online
Arbogast, A. F., Luehmann, M. D., Miller, B. A., Wernette, P. A., Adams, K. M., Waha, J. D., Oneil, G. A., Tang, Y., Boothroyd, J. J., Babcock, C. R., Hanson, P., Young, A. (2015). Late-Pleistocene paleowinds and aeolian sand mobilization in north-centralOnline
Hanson, P., Mason, J. A., Jacobs, P. M., Young, A. R. (2015). Evidence for Bioturbation of Luminescence Signals in Eolian Sand on Upland Ridgetops, Southeastern Minnesota, USA. Quaternary International, 362, 108-115.Online
Korus, J.T., Joeckel, R.M., Hanson, P.R., Goeke, J.W., Lackey, S.O., and Burbach, M.B. 2011. Reference List For Describing Cuttings And Cores Of Sediments And Sedimentary Rocks In Nebraska. Lincoln, NE: Conservation and Survey Division, UNL. pp. 7.Online
Wang, T., Istanbulluoglu, E., Wedin, D. A., Hanson, P. (2015). Impacts of devegetation on the temporal evolution of soil saturated hydraulic conductivity in a vegetated sand dune area. Environmental Earth Sciences(73), 7651-7660
Dotterweich, M., Ivester, A. H., Hanson, P., Larson, D., Dye, D. H. (2014). Natural and human induced prehistoric and historical soil erosion and landscape development in southwestern Tennessee, USA. The Anthropocene, 8, 6-24.Online
Korus, J. T., D. P. Divine, P. R. Hanson and J. S. Dillon (2013). Three geologic cross sections across portions of eastern Nebraska showing Quaternary lithologic units and stratigraphy of uppermost bedrock. Conservation and Survey Division, University of Online
Puta, R.A., Hanson, P.R., Young, A.R. 2013. Late Holocene Activation History of the Stanton Dunes, Northeastern Nebraska. Great Plains Research, v. 23, n. 1, 11-24.Online
Carson, E. C., Hanson, P., Attig, J. W., Young, A. R. (2012). Numeric control on the late-glacial chronology of the southern Laurentide Ice Sheet derived from ice-proximal lacustrine deposits. Quaternary Research, 78, 583-589.Online
Halfen, A. F., Johnson, W. C., Hanson, P., Woodburn, T. L., Young, A. R., Ludvigson, G. A. (2012). Late Holocene dune activity in the Hutchinson dunes, east-central Kansas, USA. Aeolian Research, 9-20.Online
Hanson, P. R., J. T. Korus and D. P. Divine (2012). Three-dimensional hydrostratigraphy of the Platte River valley near Ashland, Nebraska: Results from helicopter electromagnetic (HEM) mapping in the Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA), CoOnline
Jacobs, P. M., Mason, J. A., Hanson, P. (2012). Loess mantle spatial variability and soil horizonation, southern Wisconsin, USA. Quaternary International, 265, 43-53.Online
Loope, W. L., Loope, H. M., Goble, R. J., Fisher, T. G., Lytle, D. E., Legg, R. J., Hanson, P., Wysocki, D. A., Young, A. R. (2012). Dunes across interior eastern Upper Michigan relect early Holocene forest destruction concurrent with hydrologic closure o
Joeckel, R.M., Wally, K.D., Ang Clement, B. J., Hanson, P.R., Dillon, J.S., and Wilson, S.K., 2011, Low-temperature acidic weathering of sulfidic shales and neoformation of aluminum-bearing minerals, Eastern Nebraska, USA, Catena, v. 85, p. 253-266.
Young, A.R.,Hanson, P.R. 2010, Surficial Geology and Interpretive Geologic Cross Section of the Schuyler 7.5'Quadrangle, NebraskaOnline
Divine, D. P., R. M. Joeckel, J. T. Korus, P. R. Hanson and S. Lackey (2009). Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA): Introduction to a hydrogeological study, Conservation and Survey Division, University of Nebraska, Bulletin 1 (New Series), Online
Divine, D.P., Joeckel, R.M., Korus, J.T., Hanson, P.R., Olafsen Lackey, S., 2009, Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA): Introduction to a Hydrogeologic Study, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Conservation and Survey Division Bulletin 1 (New Online
Hanson, P.R., Joeckel, R.M., Young, A.R., Horn, J. 2009. Late Holocene Dune Activity in the Eastern Platte River Valley, Nebraska, Geomorphology 103:555-561.Online
Powell, L.A., A.J. Tyre, S.E. Hygnstrom, D.A. Wedin, P.R. Hanson, M.S. Kuzila, and J.B. Swinehart. 2009. Wilderness serendipity: planning and assessing learning during an experiential field course.North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture JournaOnline
Mason, J.A., Miao, X., Hanson, P.R., Johnson, W.C., Jacobs, P.M., Goble, R.J., 2008. Loess record of the last Glacial-Interglacial transition on the northern and central Great Plains, Quaternary Science Reviews 27:1772-1783.
Rawling, J.E., III, Hanson, P.R., Young, A.R., Attig, J.W., 2008, Late Pleistocene dune construction in the Central Sand Plain of Wisconsin, USA, Geomorphology 100:494-505.Online
Young, A.R., Hanson, P.R., 2008, Alluvial and eolian depositional history of the Barrens Fan, Northwestern Wisconsin, North Central Geological Society of America Meeting, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs V. 40, no. 5, p. 78.
Young, A.R., Hanson, P.R., 2008, Optical dating of the St. Croix River spillways, Wisconsin and Minnesota, Geological Society of America 2008 Annual Meeting, Houston, TX, Abstracts with Programs
Hanson, P.R., Young, A.R., 2007, Surficial geologic map of the Columbus, Nebraska 7.5 Quadrangle
Miao, X., Mason, J.A., Swinehart, J.B., Loope, D.B., Hanson, P.R., Goble, R.J., Liu, X., 2007. A 10,000-year record of dune activity, dust storms, and drought in the central Great Plains. Geology 35:119-122.Online
R.M. Joeckel, K.D. Wally, S.A. Fischbein, and P.R. Hanson. 2007. Sulfate Mineral Paragenesis in Pennsylvanian Rocks and the Occurrence of Slavikite in Nebraska. Great Plains Research. 17: 17-33.Online
Hanson, P.R., Mason, J.A. and Goble, R.J., 2006. Fluvial terrace formation along Wyoming's Laramie Range as a response to increased late Pleistocene flood magnitudes. Geomorphology. 76:12-25.Online
Miao, X., Mason, J.A., Goble, R.J. and Hanson, P.R. 2005. Loess record of dry climate and aeolian activity in the early-to mid-Holocene, central Great Plains, North America. The Holocene 15:339-346.Online
Hanson, P.R., Mason, J.A. and Goble, R.J. 2004. Episodic late Quaternary slope wash deposition as recorded in colluvial aprons, southeastern Wyoming. Quaternary Science Reviews 23:1835-1846.Online
Mason, J.A., Jacobs, P.M., Hanson, P.R., Miao, X. and Goble, R.J. 2003. Sources and paleoclimatic significance of Holocene Bignell Loess, central Great Plains, U.S.A. Quaternary Research. 60:330-339.Online
Larsen, A., Hanson, P. (in press). Dune Formation South of the Niobrara River Valley, North-Central Nebraska Sand Hills.. Geological Society of America.
Lee, K.-Y., Hanson, P. (in press). Assessing the impact of historical tree expansion and climate change on small streams in north-central Nebraska. American Geophysical Union.
McDonald, E., Sweeney, M., Hanson, P. (in press). Elucidating between soil processes and luminescence ages. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Geological Society of America.
Rawling, E., Hanson, P., Larsen, A., Carson, E. (in press). LiDAR-derived DEM’s to interpret early Holocene dunes and their reactivation around 4000 yrs ago in northwest Wisconsin. Geological Society of America.



DegreeMajorInstitutionYear Awarded
Doctorate of PhilosophyGeosciencesUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln2005
Master of ScienceGeosciencesUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln2003
Bachelor of ArtsAnthropology with an emphasis in ArchaeologyUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee1994






SNR Program Areas

  • Applied Climate and Spatial Science
  • Environmental Science

Areas of Interest/Expertise

  • Regional Cenozoic sedimentology and stratigraphy
  • Surficial processes
  • Climate change and landscape evolution
  • Evolution of hillslope, eolian, and fluvial systems
  • Quaternary geology
  • Quaternary geochronology
  • Optical dating
  • Soil geomorphology
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Cenozoic paleoclimatology
  • Sand
  • Geographic Information Systems/GIS
  • Mapping, Cartography


Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/ 2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/ 2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

Grant TitleCESU GRPL Leadership, Coordination, and Administration Oversight for the Great Plains Coop Ecosystem Studies Unit (Additional Funding)
Starting Date01/14/2021


Ending Date09/30/2021
Funding Level$13,500.00
Funding AgencyNational Park Service


Grant TitleSoil Survey Information Production and Management
Starting Date10/08/2020


Ending Date09/30/2022
Funding Level$80,000.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of Agriculture - NRCS


Grant TitleFY2020 Nebraska Statemap
Starting Date09/15/2020


Ending Date09/14/2021
Funding Level$27,934.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of Interior - Geological Survey


Grant TitleScanning Aerial Imagery (Additional Funding)
Starting Date10/15/2019


Ending Date09/30/2021
Funding Level$50,000.00
Funding AgencyUSDA/NRCS


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2019-2020 (Additional Funding)
Starting Date09/15/2019


Ending Date09/30/2020
Funding Level$92,630.00
Funding AgencyUS Geological Service


Grant TitleSoil Survey Info Production and Management
Starting Date09/05/2019


Ending Date09/30/2021
Funding Level$80,000.00
Funding AgencyUSDA/NRCS


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2018-2019 (Additional Funding)
Starting Date09/15/2018


Ending Date09/14/2019
Funding Level$47,476.00
Funding AgencyDepartment of Interior


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2017-2018 (Additional Funding)
Starting Date09/15/2017


Ending Date09/14/2018
Funding Level$43,093.00
Funding AgencyUSGS


Grant TitleSoil Laboratory and Scanning (Additional Funding)
Starting Date09/01/2017


Ending Date09/30/2018
Funding Level$87,000.00
Funding AgencyUSDA-NRCS


Grant TitleSoil Survey Information Production and Management
Starting Date02/09/2017


Ending Date09/30/2017
Funding Level$55,000.00
Funding Agency


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2016-2017 (Additional Funding)
Starting Date09/15/2016


Ending Date09/14/2017
Funding Level$44,140.00
Funding AgencyUSGS


Grant TitleDigital Video Training Materials for the Soil Survey Program
Starting Date08/29/2016


Ending Date09/30/2017
Funding Level$12,000.00
Funding AgencyUSDA - NRCS


Grant TitleSoil Survey Information Production and Management
Starting Date09/18/2015


Ending Date09/30/2017
Funding Level$64,700.00
Funding AgencyU. S. Department of Agriculture - National Soil Survey Center


Grant TitleSoil Quality from Selected Areas of the United States
Starting Date09/18/2015


Ending Date09/30/2017
Funding Level$215,000.00
Funding AgencyU. S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2015-2016 (Additional Funding)
Starting Date09/15/2015


Ending Date09/14/2016
Funding Level$86,366.00
Funding AgencyU. S. Geological Survey


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2014-2015 (Additional Funding)
Starting Date09/15/2014


Ending Date09/14/2015
Funding Level$65,623.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of the Interior - Geological Survey


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2013-2014 (Additional Funding)
Starting Date09/15/2013


Ending Date09/14/2014
Funding Level$72,636.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of the Interior


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2012-2013 (Additional Funding)
Starting Date07/01/2012


Ending Date06/30/2013
Funding Level$69,667.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of Interior - Geological Survey


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2011-2012 (Additional Funding)
Starting Date07/01/2011


Ending Date06/30/2012
Funding Level$71,017.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of Agriculture


Grant TitleOSL Dating of Sediment Samples
Starting Date07/01/2011


Ending Date12/31/2012
Funding Level$15,522.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of the Interior


Grant TitleSubsurface Investigation for Eolin and Interdune Deposits Near Crecent Lake
Starting Date08/01/2010


Ending Date12/31/2011
Funding Level$65,000.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of the Interior


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2010-2011 (additional funding)
Starting Date05/15/2010


Ending Date05/14/2011
Funding Level$75,854.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of the Interior - Geological Survey


Grant TitleEastern Nebraska HEM Aquifier Mapping
Starting Date07/15/2009


Ending Date07/01/2010
Funding Level$60,000.00
Funding AgencyLower Platte South NRD


Grant TitleCollaborative Research: Linking Loess landforms and Eolian Processes
Starting Date07/01/2009


Ending Date06/30/2011
Funding Level$45,730.00
Funding AgencyNational Science Foundation


Grant TitleEastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment Study, Ashland, Firth, and Oakland Bulletins
Starting Date07/01/2009


Ending Date07/01/2011
Funding Level$84,500.00
Funding AgencyLower Platte North NRD


Grant TitleREU Site: Collaborative Research: Dune Undergraduate Geomorphology and Geochronology (DUGG) Project in Wisconsin
Starting Date06/01/2009


Ending Date05/31/2012
Funding Level$44,228.00
Funding AgencyUniversity of Wisconsin-Platteville


Grant TitleNebraska State Map 2009-2010
Starting Date05/01/2009


Ending Date04/30/2010
Funding Level$82,156.00
Funding AgencyUS Department of the Interior - Geological Survey


Grant TitleEastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment
Starting Date08/01/2008


Ending Date07/01/2010
Funding Level$17,080.00
Funding AgencyLower Platte North NRD



Graduate Programs

Master of Applied Science

Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences
including specializations in

    Doctorate of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences
    including specializations in

      Courses Taught

      Course NumberCourse TitleFall Even YearsFall Odd YearsSpring Even YearsSpring Odd YearsSummer SessionCross Listing
      NRES 491Geography Field TourXGEOG 491/891