Eric W. Portenga

A photo of Eric Portenga

Assistant Professor of Earth Surface Processes

Geography & Geology

140V Strong Hall


[email protected]


  • Ph.D., Earth Science, University of Glasgow, Scotland and Macquarie University, Australia (Joint degree)
    • Assessments of human land use, erosion, and sediment deposition in the Southeastern Australian Tablelands
  • MS, Geomorphology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
    • Using 10Be to constrain erosion rates of bedrock outcrops globally and in the central Appalachian Mountains
  • BS, Geological Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Interests and Expertise

Dr. Eric Portenga is a geomorphologist from West Michigan specializing in understanding how our planet's surface evolves over historical and geological timescales. After completing his BS in Geological Sciences at the University of Michigan, Dr. Portenga received his MS in Geology from the University of Vermont, and then he completed a joint-Ph.D. in Earth Science at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and Macquarie University in Australia. He returned home to Michigan for a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Michigan. Dr. Portenga has studied long-term landscape evolution of the Appalachian Mountains, landscape response to human land-use practices in Australia throughout the Holocene, uplift and erosion of the Santa Monica Mountains in California, deglaciation in Greenland, and erosion in Bhutan and South Africa. He looks forward to sharing his knowledge and working with colleagues and students at Eastern Michigan University as well as expanding his research to include untangling parts of Michigan's glacial history.


  • ESSC 104 Earth Hazards
  • ESSC 110 The Dynamic Earth System
  • ESSC 227 Topographic Maps
  • ESSC 325 Geomorphology
  • ESSC 355 Geologic Field Methods Lab
  • ESSC 370 Quaternary and Glacial Geology


Environmental Science and Society, Environmental Geoscience Concentration

Grants, Honors and Awards

  • NSF-EAR-GLD-1939000. RUI: Quantifying the effects of wildfire burning on 10Be concentrations in river sand - A study of the 2018 Woolsey Fire, Santa Monica Mountains, CA

Publications and Presentations

Please contact me for copies of papers below

Bold = Student Paper

  • VanLandingham, L, Portenga, EW, Lefroy, EC, Bierman, PR, Hidy, AJ, Submitted. Comparison of basin-scale in situ and meteoric 10Be erosion and denudation rates across a rainfall, slope, and elevation gradient at George River, northeast Tasmania, Australia. Geochronology.
  • Bierman, PR, Bender, AM, Christ, AJ, Corbett, LB, Halsted, CT, Portenga, EW, Schmidt, AH, 2021. Dating by Cosmogenic Nuclides. In Alderton, D and Elias, SA (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Geology (Second Edition). Academic Press, Elsevier Publishing.
  • Portenga, EW, Clark, MK, Niemi, NA, Gallen, S, Caffee, MW, In Revision. Temporal variability of fault slip rates within a complex plate boundary system. Tectonics.
  • Portenga, EW, Bierman, PR, Rood, DH, Trodick, CD, Pavich, MJ, DeJong, BD, 2019. Erosion rates and sediment generation within the Potomac River basin over millennial timescales using beryllium isotopes. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 131(7–8), 1295–1311.
  • Bierman, PR, Rood, D, Shakun, J, Portenga EW, Corbett, L, 2018. Directly dating post-glacial Greenlandic emergence at high resolution using in situ 10Be. Quaternary Research, 90(1), 110–126.
  • Bierman, P, Portenga, E, 2017. Beryllium Isotopes. In White, WM (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Geochemistry. Springer International Publishing.
  • Reusser, L, Bierman, P, Rizzo, DM, Portenga, EW, Rood, DH (2017). Characterizing landscape-scale erosion using 10Be in detrital fluvial sediment – slope-based sampling strategy detects the effect of widespread dams. Water Resources Research, 53(5), 4476–4486.
  • Portenga, EW, Bishop, P, Rood, DH, Bierman, PR, 2017. Combining bulk sediment OSL and meteoric 10Be fingerprinting techniques to identify gully initiation sites and erosion depths. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 122(2), 455–572.
  • Linari, C, Bierman, P, Portenga, EW, Pavich, M, Finkel, R, 2017. Rates of erosion and landscape change along the Blue Ridge escarpment, southern Appalachian Mountains, estimated from in situ cosmogenic 10Be. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 42(6), 928–940.
  • Portenga, EW, Bishop, P, Gore, DB, Westaway, KE, 2016. Landscape preservation under post-European settlement alluvium in the southeastern Australian Tablelands, inferred from portable OSL reader data. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 41(12), 1697–1707.
  • Portenga, EW, Westaway, KE, Bishop, P, 2016. Timing of post-European settlement alluvium deposition in SE Australia: A legacy of European land use in the Goulburn Plains. The Holocene 26(9), 1472–1485.
  • Portenga, EW, Rood, DH, Bishop, P, Bierman, PR, 2016. A late Holocene onset of Aboriginal burning in southeastern Australia. Geology 44(2), 131–134.
  • Portenga, EW, Bishop, P, 2015. Confirming geomorphological interpretations based  on portable OSL reader data. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 41(3), 427–432.
  • Portenga, EW, Bierman, PR, Duncan, C, Corbett, LB, Kehrwald, NM, Rood, DH, 2015. Erosion rates of the Bhutanese Himalaya determined using in situ-produced 10Be. Geomorphology 233, 112–126.
  • Duxbury, J, Bierman, PR, Portenga, EW, Pavich, MJ, Southworth, S, Miguéns-Rodríguez, M, Freeman, S, 2015. Erosion rates in and around Shenandoah National Park, VA, determined using analysis of cosmogenic 10Be. American Journal of Science 35(1), 46–76.
  • Bierman, PR, Coppersmith, R, Hanson, K, Neveling, J, Portenga, EW, Rood, DH, 2014. A cosmogenic view of erosion, relief generation, and the age of faulting in southern Africa. GSA Today 24(9), 4–11.
  • Portenga, EW, Bierman, PR, Rizzo, DM, Rood, DH, 2013. Low rates of bedrock outcrop erosion in the Central Appalachian Mountains inferred from in situ 10Be. Geological Society of America Bulletin 125(1/2), 201–215.
  • Portenga, EW, Bierman, PR, 2011. Understanding Earth’s Eroding Surface with 10Be. GSA Today 21(8), 4–10.