Julie Laity

Dr. Julie Laity
Professor / Arid Lands, Geomorphology
(818) 677-3523
Office location:
Sierra Hall, Room 130-H



  • Ph.D, 1982, University of California, Los Angeles
  • MA, 1976, University of California, Los Angeles
  • BA, 1973, University of California, Los Angeles

Courses Taught

  • Physical Geography (101)
  • Weather (103)
  • The Atmosphere (311),
  • Geomorphology (365)
  • Geography of Environmental Hazards (366)
  • Hydroclimatology (414)
  • Arid Environments (467)
  • Senior Thesis (490) and numerous undergraduate seminars in physical geography.

Selected Publications and Presentations

V.R. Baker, J.C. Boothroyd, M.H. Carr, J.A. Cutts, P.D. Komar, J.E. Laity, B.K. Lucchita, M.C. Malin, H. Masursky, D. Nummedal, P.C. Patton, D. Pieri, and D. E. Thompson, 1983, Channels and valleys on Mars: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 92, no. 2, p. 1035-1054.

Laity, J.E., 1983, Diagenetic controls on groundwater sapping and valley formation, Colorado Plateau, revealed by optical and electron microscopy: Physical Geography, v. 4, no. 2, p. 103-125.

Laity, J.E. and M.C. Malin, 1985, Sapping processes and the development of theater headed valley networks on the Colorado Plateau: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 94, no. 2, p. 203-217.

Laity, J.E., 1986, The role of groundwater sapping in valley evolution on the Colorado Plateau: Proceedings and field guide for the NASA Groundwater Sapping Conference, p. 116-131.

Laity, J.E., 1987, The Colorado Plateau in Planetary Geology Studies: In Geomorphic Systems of North America (Chapter 8, The Colorado Plateau, (W.L. Graf, Ed.), Decade of North American Geology Volume, Geological Society of America, p. 288-297.

Laity, J.E.,1987. Topographic effects on ventifact formation, Mojave Desert, California: Physical Geography, v. 2, p. 113-132.

Laity, J.E., 1990, Case study: Theater-headed valleys of the Colorado Plateau. Groundwater Geomorphology, Geological Society of America Memoir 252, p. 240-244.

Laity, Julie E., 1992. Ventifact evidence for Holocene wind patterns in the east-central Mojave Desert. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, Suppl.-Bd. 84, p. 73-88.

Laity, Julie E., 1994 Landforms of aeolian erosion. In A. Abrahams and A. Parsons (Eds.) Geomorphology of Desert Environments, London: Chapman & Hall, 506-35.

Laity, Julie E., 1995. Wind abrasion and ventifact formation in California. In V.P. Tchakerian (Ed.) Desert Aeolian Processes. London: Chapman and Hall, 295-321.

Breed, C.S., J.F. McCauley, M.I. Whitney, V.P. Tchakarian and J.E. Laity, 1997. Wind erosion in drylands. In D.S.G. Thomas (Ed.), Arid Zone Geomorphology (2nd Edition). Chichester: Wiley, 437-464.

Laity, Julie E., 2000. Yardangs. In Thomas D. and A. Goudie (Eds.), The Dictionary of Physical Geography, Blackwell Publishers Ltd., Oxford p. 537.

Laity, J.E., 2002. Desert Environments. In Physical Geography of North America (A.R. Orme, Ed.), Oxford University Press, p. 380-401.

Greeley, R., N.T. Bridges, R.O. Kuzmin, and J.E. Laity, 2002, Terrestrial analogs to wind-related features at the Viking and Pathfinder landing sites on Mars. Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets), V.107, No. E1, p. 5-1 to 5-21.

Laity, J.E., 2003, Aeolian destabilization along the Mojave River, Mojave Desert, California: Aeolian, fluvial, and groundwater linkages. Physical Geography, 24, 3, p. 196-221.

Bridges, T.T., J.E. Laity, R. Greeley, J. Phoreman and E. Eddlemon, 2004, Insights on rock abrasion and ventifact formation from laboratory and field analog studies with applications to Mars. Planetary and Space Science, 52, 199-213.

Laity, J.E., 2004. Groundwater and geomorphology. In: Encylopedia of Geomorphology, Goudie, A., (ed.), pp. 497-500. New York: Routledge.

Laity, J. E., 2008. Deserts and Desert Environments. Wiley-Blackwell, 342 p.

Laity, J.E. and Bridges, N.T. (2009) Ventifacts on Earth and Mars: Analytical, field, and laboratory studies supporting sand abrasion and windward feature development. Geomorphology, 105, 202-217.

Laity, J. E., 2009, Landforms, landscapes, and processes of aeolian erosion. In: Abrahams, A. and Parsons, A. (Eds.) Geomorphology of Desert Environments, 2nd edition, Springer, pp. 597-628.

Laity, J.E., 2011. Pavements and stony mantles. In: Thomas, D.S.G. (Ed.) Arid Zone Geomorphology, 3rd edition. John Wiley and Sons Ltd., pp. 181-207.

Laity, J.E., 2011. Wind erosion in drylands. In: Thomas, D.S.G. (Ed.) Arid Zone Geomorphology, 3rd edition. John Wiley and Sons Ltd., pp. 539-568

Varkonyi, P. and Laity, J., 2012. Formation of surface features on ventifacts: modeling the role of rebounding sand grains. Geomorphology, 139-140, 220-229

Laity, J.E. and Bridges, N.T., 2013, Abraded Systems. . In: John F. Shroder (ed.) Treatise on Geomorphology, Volume 11, pp. 269-286. San Diego: Academic Press.

Bridges, N.T. and Laity, J.E., 2013, Fundamentals of Aeolian Sediment Transport: Aeolian Abrasion. In: John F. Shroder (ed.) Treatise on Geomorphology, Volume 11, pp. 134-148. San Diego: Academic Press.

Laity, J.E., 2015. “Erosional Processes and Landforms.” The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology. Wiley-AAG (8 p.)

Laity, J., 2015. Lunette. In: Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms. (H. Hargitai and A. Kereszturi, Eds.), Springer Science + Business Media New York. DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-9213-9_494-1

Laity, J., 2015, Pedestal Rock. In: Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms. (H. Hargitai and A. Kereszturi, Eds.), Springer Science + Business Media New York. DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-9213-9_287-1

Research and Interests

While I am interested in all aspects of geomorphology, I have specialized in arid environments.  My book Deserts and Desert Environments (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) focuses on geomorphic systems in deserts, examining physical, biological, temporal, and human components of drylands. My research has principally involved the study of aeolian, fluvial, and groundwater systems in deserts. Several projects have involved the hydrology of arid lands:  these include studies of groundwater sapping processes on the Colorado Plateau and Mars and the examination of environmental degradation and groundwater overdraft in the Lower Mojave Valley, California.  The latter has resulted in the death of native vegetation, the reactivation of ancient dune systems, and environmental problems associated with dune encroachment and blowing dust and sand. My recent research has principally focused on wind erosion and rock abrasion. I have examined the formation of wind-eroded rocks (ventifacts) (e.g., Laity and Bridges (2009); Varkonyi and Laity (2012)) and the role ventifacts play as proxies for palaeowindflow. I have mapped ventifacts along the length of the eastern Sierra Nevada, in Panamint and Death Valleys, and in large areas of the Mojave Desert to understand palaeowindflow from the Late Glacial Maximum through the mid-Holocene.