P. Thompson Davis

P. Thompson Davis

INSTAAR Affiliate

  • Professor, Natural and Applied Sciences, Bentley University
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire


  • PhD: University of Colorado-Boulder, 1980
  • MA: University of Maine, 1976
  • BA: University of New Hampshire, 1972

Contact Information


Glacial and climate history of mountainous areas in New England, western North America, and Baffin Island.

Research Interests

Glacial and Quaternary geology; Holocene glacier fluctuations and climate change; Quaternary palynology; lacustrine sedimentology; alpine geomorphology; glacial erosional and depositional processes.


Thom and a Bentley student obtain a sediment core from Caribou Lake on the west side of Arapaho Pass, July 2010.

P. Thompson (Thom) Davis received his BA from the University of New Hampshire, his MA from the University of Maine, and his PhD from the University of Colorado-Boulder, with all three degrees in geology. In 1980, while pursuing postdoctoral research at the University of Washington, he survived the cataclysmic eruption of Mount St. Helen's with less than an hour to spare. His research is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, and focuses on glacial geology and climate change, a specialty that has taken him on more than a dozen expeditions to Baffin Island in the eastern Canadian Arctic. He also pursues glacial geology research in western United States, including the Washington Cascades and the Rockies of Colorado and Wyoming. Related research includes travel to Antarctica, New Zealand, Australia, the Indian and Nepalese Himalaya, Tibet, China, Iceland, Scandinavia, the European Alps, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Tierra del Fuego, Alaska, and Hawaii. When not traveling farther afield, Thom spends time hiking, skiing, renovating a house in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and buying and selling used books about mountaineering and polar exploration.




Ward, L. G., Zaprowski, B. J., Trainer, K. D., P. Thompson Davis 2008: Stratigraphy, pollen history and geochronology of tidal marshes in a Gulf of Maine estuarine system: Climatic and relative sea level impacts. Marine Geology, 256(1-4): 1-17. DOI: 10.1016/j.margeo.2008.08.004

Briner, J. P., Gifford H. MillerP. Thompson Davis, Finkel, R. C. 2006: Cosmogenic radionuclides from fiord landscapes support differential erosion by overriding ice sheets. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 118: 406-420.

P. Thompson Davis, Briner, J. P., Coulthard, R. D., Finkel, R. W., Gifford H. Miller 2006: Preservation of Arctic landscapes overridden by cold-based ice sheets. Quaternary Research, 65 (1): 156 163.

Briner, J. P., Gifford H. MillerP. Thompson Davis, Finkel, R. 2005: Cosmogenic exposure dating in Arctic glacial landscapes: Implications for the glacial history of the Northeastern Baffin Island, Arctic Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 42: 67 84.

Briner, J. P., Gifford H. MillerP. Thompson Davis, Bierman, P. R., Caffee, M. 2003: Last Glacial Maximum ice sheet dynamics in Arctic Canada inferred from young erratics perched on ancient tors. Quaternary Science Reviews, 22(5-7): 437-444.

Dethier, D. P., Benedict, J. B., Birkeland, P. W., T. Nelson CaineP. Thompson Davis, Madole, R. F., Patterson, P. E., Price, A. B., Schildgen, T. F., Shroba, R. R. 2003: Quaternary stratigraphy, geomorphology, soils, and alpine archeology in an alpine-to-plains transect, Colorado Front Range. Easterbrook, D.J. (ed.), Quaternary Geology of the United States: INQUA 2003 Field Guide. Reno, Nevada: Desert Research Institute: 81-104.

Short, S. K., Mode, W. N., P. Thompson Davis 1985: The Holocene record from Baffin Island: Modern and fossil pollen studies. In Andrews, J. T. (editor), Quaternary Environments: Eastern Canadian Arctic, Baffin Bay and Western Greenland. Boston: Allen and Unwin, 608-642.

P. Thompson Davis, Burns, S. F., T. Nelson Caine 1984: Guidebook to Holocene deposits in Arapahoe Cirque, Colorado Front Range. American Quaternary Association, Eighth Biennial Meeting, Post-Conference Field Trip (10), 16 August 1984. 28 pp.

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