CNCS Center for Nonlinear and Complex Systems
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Allen B. Murray, Professor in the Division of Earth & Ocean Sciences and CNCS: Center for nonlinear and complex systems and Director of Graduate Studies

Allen B. Murray

I am interested in many surface processes and patterns, including rivers and a range of desert, arctic, and alpine phenomena. My recent efforts have focused on coastal and nearshore processes. The nearshore environment is a spatially extended system that exhibits complex, dynamic spatial patterns, including the arrangement of bars and channels, waves, and often an array of alongshore and cross-shore currents. I approach such systems with the perspective and techniques developed in the study of nonlinear dynamics and complex systems, looking for possibly simple, large-scale interactions that could explain complex behaviors. I use relatively simple, cellular-automata-like models to test such hypotheses. (click here for recent abstracts) Recently I have been applying these methods to beach and surf-zone problems, but I am expanding my focus onshore and offshore, to include studies of storm-driven currents and sediment transport kilometers from shore, as well as the formation and evolution of shoreline-scale features such as cuspate forelands and capes, cuspate spits, and 'sand waves'. Another aspect of my research involves comparing field or laboratory observations with models of complex systems, for which linear statistics concerning the system's behavior may not sensitively reflect the interactions that produced them. I apply and develop nonlinear data analysis techniques to sensitively test how realistic model interactions are. I also advocate using different model-testing strategies for maximally-realistic simulations and highly simplified models. (See model testing for more information.)

Contact Info:
Office Location:  334 Old Chem Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 681-5069
Email Address: send me a message

Teaching (Fall 2019):

    Grainger 2112, Th 09:00 AM-10:00 AM; Grainger 2102, F 12:00 PM-01:00 PM

Ph.D.University of Minnesota, Twin Cities1995
M.S.University of Minnesota, Twin Cities1990
B.A.University of Minnesota, Twin Cities1986
BISUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities1986

earth surface processes
shorelines and coastal geology
Research Interests: coastal, river, and landscape processes and pattern formation using relatively simple computer models to test hypotheses arising from field observations.


Biological Evolution • Biomass • Computer Simulation • Ecosystem • Erosion • Geologic Sediments • Geomorphology • Machine learning • Models, Theoretical • Plant Development • Ripples • Time Factors • Water Movements • Wetlands

Curriculum Vitae
Postdocs Mentored

  • Eli Lazarus (2005 - present)  
Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Lauzon, R; Murray, AB, Comparing the Cohesive Effects of Mud and Vegetation on Delta Evolution, Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 45 no. 19 (October, 2018), pp. 10-445, American Geophysical Union (AGU) [doi]  [abs]
  2. Moore, LJ; Murray, AB, Barrier dynamics and response to changing climate (February, 2018), pp. 1-395, Springer International Publishing, ISBN 9783319680842 [doi]  [abs]
  3. Antolínez, JAA; Murray, AB; Méndez, FJ; Moore, LJ; Farley, G; Wood, J, Downscaling Changing Coastlines in a Changing Climate: The Hybrid Approach, Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, vol. 123 no. 2 (February, 2018), pp. 229-251, American Geophysical Union (AGU) [doi]  [abs]
  4. Dong, X; Cohen, MJ; Martin, JB; McLaughlin, DL; Murray, AB; Ward, ND; Flint, MK; Heffernan, JB, Ecohydrologic processes and soil thickness feedbacks control limestone-weathering rates in a karst landscape, Chemical Geology (January, 2018), Elsevier BV [doi]  [abs]
  5. Lauzon, R; Murray, AB; Moore, LJ; Walters, DC; Kirwan, ML; Fagherazzi, S, Effects of marsh edge erosion in coupled barrier island-marsh systems and geometric constraints on marsh evolution, Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, vol. 123 no. 6 (January, 2018), pp. 1218-1234 [doi]  [abs]