School of Arts and Sciences

Tess Harden Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Science

Dr. Harden has a background in geology and paleoflood hydrology and has been employed by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation since 2008 to research flood hazards throughout the United States. Harden’s research primarily focuses on quantifying extreme riverine floods in the last 10,000 years, reducing uncertainty in flood-frequency analyses of the very rare flood events, and investigating the link between climate and extreme floods. At Thomas College, Harden mainly teaches earth-science focused classes (geology, climate science, environmental science, etc.) with an emphasis on cross-discipline connections.


Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Resources/Geology – Portland State University (Oregon)

M.S. in Geosciences – University of Arizona

B.S. in Geology, minor is Chemistry – University of Southern Indiana

Areas of Interest

Environmental Science, Geology, Climate, Hydrology, Natural Hazards, Flood-Frequency Analysis, Soils, Geomorphology


Harden, T.M., Ryberg, K.R., O’Connor, J.E., Friedman, J.M., and Kiang, J.E., 2021, Historical and paleoflood analyses for probabilistic flood-hazard assessments—Approaches and review guidelines: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 4, chap. B6, 91 p.,

Harden, T.M., O’Connor, J.E., Carr, M.L., and Keith, M., 2021, Improving flood-frequency analysis with a 4,000-year record of flooding on the Tennessee River near Chattanooga, Tennessee: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5138, 64 p.,

Liu, T., Ji, L., Baker, V.R., Harden, T.M., Cline, M.L., 2020, Holocene extreme paleofloods and their climatological context, Upper Colorado River Basin, USA, Progress in Physical Geography, p. 1-9.

Dickinson, J.E., Harden, T.M., McCabe, G.J., 2019, Seasonality of climate drivers of flood variability in the conterminous United States, Scientific Reports, v. 9, 15321.

Davis, L., Harden, T.M., Munoz, S.E., Godaire, J., O’Connor, J.E., 2018, Preface to historic and paleoflood analyses: New perspectives on climate, extreme flood risk, and the geomorphic effects of large floods, Geomorphology, vol. 327, p. 610-612.

Harden, T.M., and O’Connor, J.E., 2017, Prehistoric floods on the Tennessee River – Assessing the use of stratigraphic records of past floods for improved flood frequency analysis, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5052, 15 p.

Kohn, M.S., Stevens, M.R., Harden, T.M., Godaire, J.E., Klinger, R.E., and Mommandi, Amanullah, 2016, Paleoflood investigations to improve peak-streamflow regional-regression equations for natural streamflow in eastern Colorado, 2015: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5099, 58 p.

Harden, T.M, O’Connor, J.E., and Driscoll, D.G., 2015, Late Holocene Flood Probabilities in the Black Hills, South Dakota with emphasis on the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Catena, v. 130, p. 62-68.

Greenbaum, N. Harden, T.M., Baker, V.R., Weisheit, J., Cline, M.L., Porat, N., Halevi, R., Dohrenwend, J., 2014, A 2000 year natural record of magnitudes and frequencies for the largest Upper Colorado River floods near Moab, Utah, Water Resources Research, vol. 50, no. 6, p. 5249-5269.

Driscoll, D.G., O’Connor, J.E., Harden, T.M., 2012, Results of paleoflood investigations for Spring, Rapid, Boxelder, and Elk Creeks, Black Hills, Western South Dakota, Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Science, vol. 9, p. 49-67.

Harden, T.M., O’Connor, J.E., Driscoll, D.G., Stamm, J.F., 2011, Flood-frequency analyses from paleo flood investigations for Spring, Rapid, Boxelder, and Elk Creeks, Black Hills, western South Dakota, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5131, 136 p.

Harden, T.M., Macklin, M.G., Baker, V.R., 2010, Holocene flood histories in southern-western USA, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, vol. 35, p. 707-716.

Harden, T.M., Stamm, J., Driscoll, D.G., O’Connor, J.E., 2010, Holocene paleoflood events in the Black Hills: Evidence preserved in alcoves and caves, in Terry, M.P., Duke, E.F. and Tielke, J.A. (Eds.), Geological Field Trips in the Black Hills Region, South Dakota, South Dakota Schools of Mines and Technology, Bulletin no. 21, p. 139-150.

Honors & Awards

  • U.S. Department of Interior, Valor Award, 2019

Campus Involvement

  • Environmental Science Club Advisor
person standing with craters in the background

Contact Info