Former M.S. student Nate Meyer collects samples at Dance Bayou, San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge


The Breecker group studies biogeochemical processes occurring at or near the land surface. We study soils and paleosols, caves and stalagmites, and other materials, such as volcanic glass, that give us insight into Earth’s past. We study timescales ranging from seasonal cycles to hundreds of millions of years. We use observations, mathematical models and both laboratory and field-based experiments to address an evolving range of questions. Current questions of focus include:

How and when do calcium carbonates accumulate in soils?

What controls the stabilization of organic carbon in soils?

Are the accumulation of organic and inorganic carbon in soils related?

Are permineralized peats extinct soils? Are there other extinct soils?

How does carbon cycling in soils differ/compare with carbon cycling deeper in the critical zone?

How does the availability of water in the critical zone change with climate? 

How did the weathering of rocks change during warm climates of the past?

How and why did atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations change over the Phanerozoic eon?

How and when was the Western Cordillera of Peru uplifted