Kevin Norton

Dr Kevin Norton profile picture

Senior Lecturer School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Teaching in 2019

Research interests

Cosmogenic nuclides, erosion and weathering processes, soil production

The field of Geomorphology is concerned with understanding how planetary surfaces form and evolve. Generally speaking, tectonic forces uplift the land and erosive forces tear it back down. My research aims to determine which processes are responsible for generating the landscapes that we see today and to measure the rates at which they change. To this end, I draw on expertise from across the geosciences (e.g. tectonics, petrology, geochemistry, geomorphology) and apply a variety of methods including; cosmogenic nuclides, geochemical tracers, GIS, surveying, and numerical modelling to geomorphic problems. Using these tools, previous research has focused on topics ranging from historic sediment movement in non-tidal coastal settings, to numerical modelling of glacio-isostatic rebound in alpine settings, and the relationship between chemical and physical weathering rates.

Cosmogenic nuclides, which are formed through interactions of cosmic rays with nuclei in Earth’s atmosphere and surface materials, in particular are rapidly becoming indispensible tools for geoscientists. Here at VUW, we have the laboratories and expertise to produce clean nuclide separates for measurement at AMS facilities.

Current Research Projects

  • Quantifying denudation rates in the western Andes (headed by Prof. Fritz Schlunegger, University of Bern). We are using cosmogenic nuclides to determine the spatial relationships between both modern and orbital scale climate variations and erosion rates on the arid western flanks of the Peruvian Andes.
  • Controls on erosion and weathering in the European Alps. This ongoing project aims to measure chemical weathering rates and physical erosion rates in the European Alps, and to determine the controlling factors on these rates.
  • Rates of long-term soil formation and short-term erosion in New Zealand. The long averaging timescale of cosmogenic nuclides allows us to measure the pre-settlement soil production rates and erosion rates in New Zealand. We can compare these with short-term techniques to better understand the effect of humans on our landscape.

In addition to these larger projects, I collaborate with other scientists in New Zealand and across the globe.


  • PhD - University of Hannover (2008)
  • MSc - University of Minnesota-Duluth (2000)
  • USA; BSc - Ohio State University (1997)


Publications 2006 - Now


Teaching in 2019