Department of Geological Sciences
Assistant Professor, Geology

Office/Lab: SDSU Main Campus, GMCS 116-117
Phone: 619-594-6394 (lab)


Maloney Lab

Dr. Jillian Maloney joined the SDSU faculty in 2015 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. Her research seeks to understand tectonics and sediment processes on and beneath the seafloor. In particular, she investigates submarine earthquakes and landslides, which can present hazards to human life and infrastructure. She is also interested in the geologic aspects of ecosystems and how geology can impact seafloor habitats, which is important for ecosystem risk assessment and preservation. Jillian received her B.S. from the University of Southern California and her Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Prior to arriving at SDSU, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Louisiana State University, studying seafloor landslides on the subaqueous Mississippi River Delta.
Our lab uses geophysical tools to study geology underwater. These tools include swath bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and sub-bottom seismic methods that can be towed from small boats and larger research vessels. The swath bathymetry and sidescan sonar map the seafloor morphology and roughness, while the sub-bottom seismic data image the sediment and rock layers beneath the seafloor. We also collect sediment cores to ground-truth the geophysical data, obtain ages of sediment layers, and to measure sediment properties such as grain size. In general, we use these data to study: • Sequence stratigraphy and sediment processes • Neotectonics, paleoseismology, earthquake hazard • Subaqueous landslides • Coastal geomorphology • Geologic controls on habitats Current research projects include: 1. Archaeological and biological assessment of submerged landforms on the Pacific Coast 2. Mass wasting processes and products of the Mississippi delta front: Data synthesis and observation 3. Paleoseismic investigation of the Rose Canyon fault zone, San Diego, CA

Water & The Environment (Geology 305): The first half of class focuses on scientific concepts and theories related to water systems. We then use our understanding of the science to study local and global water issues. The course begins with the origin, distribution, and properties of water on earth. We then cover hydrologic cycling and storage of water including processes of the atmosphere, rivers, lakes, oceans, glaciers, and groundwater. The second half of the semester focuses on human uses of water and problems caused by use of water resources. We then investigate global and local issues by examining case studies with a particular focus on California water landscape and management.

Sedimentology & Stratigraphy (Geology 336): In this course students learn how to think like a geoscientist by making careful observations of sediments and sedimentary rocks and detailed interpretations including about the environment in which they formed. We cover the properties of sediments, how sediment is transported and deposited, the structures and textures of sediment deposits, and the characteristics of sedimentary rocks formed in different environments.

Seismic Interpretation and 3D Visualization (Geology 580): Students learn the basics of seismic data collection and processing, with an emphasis on understanding how the end product is affected by methodology. Students have hands-on experience working with a seismic dataset to practice interpretation of data based on principals of seismic and sequence stratigraphy. This course also covers the wide range of applications of seismic data.

Bentley, S.J., M.D. Blum, J.M. Maloney, L. Pond, and R. Paulsell, 2016, The Mississippi River Source to Sink System: Perspectives on Tectonic, Climatic, and Anthropogenic Influences, Miocene to Anthropocene, Earth Science Reviews, v. 153, p. 139-174, doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2015.11.001

Keller, G., Bentley, S., Georgiou, I., Maloney, J., Miner, M., and Xu, K., 2016, River-plume sedimentation and Pb/Be seabed delivery on the Mississippi River delta front, Geo-Marine Letters, doi: 10.1007/s00367-016-0476-0

Kent, G., Schmauder, G., Maloney, J., Driscoll, N., Kell, A., Smith, K. Baskin, R., and Seitz, G., 2016, Reevaluating late-Pleistocene and Holocene active faults in the Tahoe Basin, California-Nevada, AEG Special Publication 26: Applied Geology in California, eds. Anderson, R. and Ferriz, H., p. 833-858.

Maloney, J.M., Driscoll, N.W., Kent, G.M., Duke, S., Freeman, T., and Bormann, J., 2016, Segmentation and step-overs along strike-slip fault systems in the inner California borderlands: Implications for fault architecture and basin formation, AEG Special Publication 26: Applied Geology in California, eds. Anderson, R. and Ferriz, H., p. 655-677.

Noble, P.J., Ball, G.I., Zimmerman, S.H., Maloney, J.M., Smith, S.B., Kent, G., Adams, K.D., Karlin, R.E., Driscoll, N.W., 2016, Holocene paleoclimate history of Fallen Leaf Lake, CA, from geochemistry and sedimentology of well-dated sediment cores, Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 131, part A, p. 193-210, doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.10.037

Sievers, K.T., R.J. Barr, J.M. Maloney, N.W. Driscoll, T.W. Anderson, 2016, Impact of Habitat Structure on Fish Populations in Kelp Forests at a Seascape Scale, Marine Ecology Progress Series, v. 557, p. 51-63, doi: 10.3354/meps11885

Grupe, B.M., Krach, M.L., Pasulka, A.L., Maloney, J.M., Levin, L.A., Frieder, C.A., 2015, Methane seeps ecosystem functions and services from a recently discovered California seep, Marine Ecology, v. 36, no. S1, p. 91-108, doi: 10.1111/maec.12243

Maloney, J.M., Grupe, B.M., Pasulka, A.L., Frieder, C.A., Levin, L.A., Dawson, K., Case, D., and Driscoll, N.W., 2015, Transpressional segment boundaries in strike-slip fault systems offshore southern California: Implications for fluid expulsion and seep habitats: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 42, no. 10, p. 4080-4088, doi: 10.1002/2015GL063778

Dong, S., Ucarkus, G., Wesnousky, S.G., Maloney, J., Kent, G., Driscoll, N., and Baskin, R., 2013, Strike-slip faulting along the Wassuk Range of the northern Walker Lane, Nevada. Geosphere, v. 10, no. 1, p. 40-48, doi: 10.1130/GES00912.1

Maloney, J.M., et al., 2013, Paleoseismic history of the Fallen Leaf Segment of the West-Tahoe Fault reconstructed from slide deposits in the Lake Tahoe Basin, California-Nevada. Geosphere, v. 9, no. 4 p. 1065-1090, doi: 10.1130/GES00877.1

Alexander Laws (M.S.)

Research Interests:
Thesis topic: Channel Islands coastal evolution since the Last Glacial Maximum



Eui-jo Marquez (M.S.)

Research Interests:
Thesis topic: Combined onshore & offshore paleoseismology of the Rose Canyon fault zone



Drake Singleton (Ph.D.)

Research Interests:
Dissertation topic: Fault segmentation and paleoseismology in southern California


Zain Tahir (M.S.)

Research Interests:
Thesis topic: Fault controlled paleochannels and their evolution during sea level transgression



Luke Weisman (M.S.)

Research Interests:
Thesis topic: San Diego stratigraphy and paleoshorelines: Applications for paleoseismic history and slip rate along the Rose Canyon fault zone