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Office Hours: 
by appointment

Hermann W. Pfefferkorn



  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1968-1969)
  • Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) Geology, University of Muenster, Germany (1968)
  • M.S. (Dipl.-Geol.) University of Muenster, Germany (1966)

Research Interests

We might be experiencing an icehouse to greenhouse transition in the near future and I would like to understand the potential changes in plant cover that would occur in different climate realms.  To this end I am trying to study the previous icehouse to greenhouse transitions that occurred in the latest Carboniferous and Permian five times between 304 and 260 million years ago.  I am studying paleoclimatology, landscape reconstruction, paleoecology, plant taphonomy, and whole plant reconstruction (including morphology, anatomy, and taxonomy) for occurrences of plant fossils in localities of Carboniferous and Permian age in China, Peru, North America, and Europe.

Other Areas of Expertise
I have also worked on  and taught mine reclamation and sequential land use.


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Selected Publications

2014  Wang, J., Pfefferkorn, H.W., Feng, Z.  Noeggerathiales as coal-forming plants in Cathaysia: conclusions from an Early Permian vegetational Pompeii in Inner Mongolia.  Chinese Science Bulletin 59, 2785-2792.  DOI: 10.2007/s11434-014-0270-1 

2014  Pfefferkorn, H.W., Alleman, V., Iannuzzi, R.  A greenhouse interval between icehouse times: Climate change, long-distance plant dispersal, and plate motion in the Mississippian (late Visean–earliest Serpukhovian) of Gondwana.  Gondwana Research  25, 1338-1347.  DOI: 10.1016/

2014  Wang, J., Kerp, H., Pfefferkorn, H.W.  The earliest occurrence of peltasperms in the basal Permian strata of the North China Block and the radiation of this group.  Geological Journal 49, 129-142.  DOI: 10.1002/gj.2503

Courses Taught

GEOL 515    Evolution of Land Ecosystems
GEOL 415    Paleobotany
GEOL 299    Independent Study
GEOL 498    Senior Thesis

Department of Earth and Environmental Science / University of Pennsylvania, 251 Hayden Hall, 240 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6316