Breecker is primarily interested in pursuing a process-based understanding of soils and the "critical zone" with the goal of determining how climate influences soils and how soils influence climate. A better understanding of modern soil processes improves the accuracy of paleosol-based paleoclimate proxies and helps quantify the fundamental role that soils play in the Earth's elemental cycling. Breecker's research incorporates both field-based studies (current projects in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas and Tibet) and laboratory experiments (technique development and soil incubation experiments) and involves the measurement of stable isotope ratios in water, pedogenic minerals, critical zone gases and organic matter. These measurements are used to investigate chemical reactions occurring in soils and to trace material transfer between soils, caves and the atmosphere.

Areas of Expertise

Soil biogeochemistry, calcic soils, stable isotope geochemistry


Research Locations



Current Research Programs & Projects

Calibrating the paleosol carbonate CO2 barometer for vertic paleosols by monitoring soil CO2 in modern Vertisols


Graduate Teaching Award (for Proposal Writing class) - Jackson School of Geosciences (2011)

NSF Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowship - National Science Foundation (2008 - 2009)

Outstanding Ph.D. student - Earth and Planetary Science Department (UNM) (2008)

Frank E. Kottlowski Award - New Mexico Geological Society (2004)

Outstanding Teaching Assistant - the University of New Mexico (2004)

Outstanding M.S. student - Earth and Planetary Science Department (UNM) (2004)

Vincent C. Kelley Graduate Fellowship - Earth and Planetary Science Department (UNM) (2004 - 2007)

Robert Wellnitz Scholarship for excellence in field research - New Mexico Geological Society (2003)

Outstanding Beginning Teaching Assistant - Earth and Planetary Science Department (UNM) (2003)

John Mason Clarke 1877 Fellowship - Amherst College (2002 - 2004)

Magna cum Laude - Amherst College (2001)

Pond Prize for Most Distinguished Thesis in Geology - Amherst College Department of Geology (2001)

Postdocs

Elizabeth J Cassel
The interactions between tectonics, climate, and erosion; Earth surface processes; tectonic geomorphology; stable isotope geochemistry and its applications to paleo-elevation, -climate, and -hydrology; fluvial and alluvial depositional environments; sediment provenance and drainage evolution through detrital mineral geochronology; sedimentology and stratigraphy; major, trace element, rare earth element, and stable isotope compositions of volcanic glass; Laramide tectonics and drainage system responses.


Graduate Students

John G Warden, Ph.D., expected 2015 (Supervisor)

Lacey Pyle, M.S., 2012 (Supervisor)

Kyle Meyer, M.S., 2012 (Supervisor)

Junyeon Yoon (Supervisor)

Nate Meyer, M.S. (Supervisor)


Calibrating the paleosol carbonate CO2 barometer, Royal Society of London, Kavli Royal Society International Centre (2011)

Seasonality of soil carbonate formation: Implications for reconstructing paleoelevations and paleoatmospheric CO2, the University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2011)

Modern soils and ancient atmospheric CO2: calibrating the paleosol carbonate CO2 barometer, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX (2010)

Modern soils and ancient atmospheric CO2: calibrating the paleosol carbonate CO2 barometer, the University of Hawaii, (2010)

Modern soils and ancient atmospheric CO2: calibrating the paleosol carbonate CO2 barometer, Baylor University, Waco, TX (2010)

The stable isotope composition of CO2 in soils and caves: investigating processes in the critical zone, the University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology, (2009)

The stable isotope composition of CO2 in soils and caves: investigating processes in the critical zone, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geological Sciences, (2009)

Extreme conditions of pedogenic carbonate formation: Implications for reconstructing paleoenvironments, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY (2008)

Extreme conditions of pedogenic carbonate formation: Implications for reconstructing paleoenvironments, the University of Houston, (2008)

Extreme conditions of pedogenic carbonate formation: Implications for reconstructing paleoenvironments, the University of Texas at Austin, (2008)

Calibrating pedogenic carbonate as a paleoenvironmental indicator, Los Alamos National Laboratory, (2008)

Improved understanding of soil carbonate formation reveals sensitivity of Earth’s climate to atmospheric CO2, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM (2008)