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Jorge Lorenzo Trueba

Professor, Earth and Environmental Studies

Center for Environmental & Life Sciences 302
BE, Technical University of Madrid
MS, University of Minnesota
PhD, University of Minnesota
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My research program aims to understand the fundamental controls upon the formation and evolution of the morphology and stratigraphic architecture of coastal environments. There are few regions of the Earth that change more rapidly and consistently than the coastal zone. Despite this transience and its susceptibility to hazards, the coast continues to attract humans and development; accordingly, deeper knowledge of the formative and destructive processes operating at the shore is of both scientific interest and of societal importance. Understanding of coastal geomorphologic processes informs sedimentologic research and vice versa, as coastal landforms and their associated sedimentary deposits are often used to interpret potential changes to environmental driving forces.

Using numerical models integrated with field research and laboratory data, I study a variety of coastal environments, including barrier islands, fluvial deltas, mangroves, and marshes, using a research approach that focuses on long-timescale evolution (from decades to millions of years). I am also interested in how human activities affect coastal evolution through the accumulated effects of purposeful engineering activities and the unintentional consequences of land-use change. Understanding the long-term evolution of the coupled natural-human coastal system is particularly relevant to the state of New Jersey, where coastal communities have followed several cycles of rapid development followed by storm-inflicted devastation over the last century.

If you're interested in joining the research team, do not hesitate to contact me!


Mathematical Modeling of Earth’s Dynamical Systems
Linkages between coastal geomorphology, ecology, and human activities
Linkages between coastal geomorphology and stratigraphy



Research Projects

Evolution of barrier-backbarrier systems

To better understand the coupled evolution of barriers and their associated backbarriers (salt marsh, lagoons, bays, tidal flats), my research group works on the development of numerical modeling tools integrated with field data collected from a wide range of locations along the East and Gulf Coasts. These mathematical tools consider barriers and their associated backbarriers as part of an integrated system in which sediment is exchanged, and highlight the role of two-way feedback between the dynamics of the different components, including the shelf, shoreface, berm-dune complex, and back-barrier ecosystems on their long-term evolution.

Coastal processes and human response to shoreline change

My research group investigates the co-evolution of coastal hazards and landscape change over several decades through the development of a set of integrated geological and economic ("geo-economic") models. These models are aimed at predicting the dynamic evolution of the coast and shoreline under different storm hazard and sea-level rise scenarios and protection (response) strategies, including the effects of soft (beach nourishment) and hard (seawall, groins) response measures.

A moving boundary framework for the evolution of fluvio-deltaic environments

My students and I work on the development of a numerical modeling framework for the evolution of fluvial deltas that can be treated as a classical heat transfer problem with three geomorphic moving boundaries that delimit the deltaic prism: the shoreline, the alluvial-bedrock transition, and the delta toe. The trajectories of these boundaries over time and space define the evolution of the sedimentary prism geometry and delimit fundamental changes in surface morphology and sediment transport regime. To improve our quantitative understanding of the dynamics of fluvial deltas and the interplay between sediment supply, tectonic subsidence, and sea-level variations, we focus on developing numerical techniques, including enthalpy methods.

Mangroves ecosystems

Mangroves provide a variety of ecosystem services to adjacent coastal populations, including storm protection, coastal biodiversity, and blue carbon storage. Despite their economic and ecological importance, a critical gap exists in understanding how mangroves respond to climate forcings (e.g., changes in precipitation and evaporation patterns). To tackle this knowledge gap, my research group works on developing numerical models coupled with remote sensing analysis to quantify the vegetated area of mangrove islands as a function of key climate drivers across the Caribbean region.