James Kaste

Assistant Professor

Office : McGlothlin-Street Hall 217
Email : [[jmkaste]]
Office Phone : 757 221 2951


  • Ph.D. in Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College
  • M.S. in Geological Sciences, University of Maine
  • B.A. in Geological Sciences, SUNY Geneseo


Research Interests


Environmental Geochemistry, Isotope Geochemistry & Sediment transport
The goal of my research is to describe chemical and physical processes operating near the earth’s surface, with a focus on quantifying sediment transport, chemical weathering, and the fate of carbon and contaminants in the environment. My aim is to understand how processes at the earth’s surface are affected or disrupted by anthropogenic activities (groundwater withdrawal, acid and metal pollution, urban development) and global change. I develop and apply a number of lab and field-based approaches to quantify surface processes operating on timescales from months to millennia, including i) watershed solid and solute budgets, ii) lithogenic, artificial, and cosmogenic radionuclide tracers, and iii) quantitative characterization of soil mineralogy and soil profile development.


Current Projects

The fate of gasoline-derived Pb in forested watersheds

Using short-lived fallout radionuclides to date sediments and surfaces

The effects of Dams on sediment transport and habitats in rivers

Connecting groundwater decline to soil erosion in Owens Valley, CA

Chemical weathering of silicate minerals and the evolution of Spodosol Profiles

The natural trapping of Uranium by wetlands


Selected Publications


Kaste JM, Magilligan FJ, Renshaw CE, Fisher GB, and Dade WB (2013) Seasonal controls on meteoric 7Be in coarse-grained river channels.  Hydrological Processes.  DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9800.

Vest KR, Elmore AJ, Kaste JM, Okin GS, and Li J (2013).  Estimating total horizontal aeolian flux within shrub-invaded groundwater dependent meadows using empirical and mechanistic models.  Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface.  DOI: 10.1002/jgrf.20048.

Lawrence GB, Fernandez IJ, Richter DD, Ross DS, Hazlett PW, Bailey SW, Ouimet R, Warby RAF, Johnson AH, Lin H, Kaste JM, Lapenis AG, and Sullivan TJ (2013) Measuring Environmental Change in Forest Ecosystems by Repeated Soil Sampling: A North American Perspective.  Journal of Environmental Quality. DOI:10.2134/jeq2012.0378.

*Stankwitz C, Kaste JM, and Friedland AJ (2012) Threshold Increases in Soil Lead and Mercury from Tropospheric Deposition Across an Elevational Gradient.  Environmental Science & Technology.  DOI: 10.1021/es204208w.

Landis JD,  Renshaw CE, and Kaste JM (2012) Measurement of 7Be in soils and sediments by gamma spectroscopy.  Chemical Geology vol. 291 pp.175-185. DOI:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2011.10.007.

Kaste JM, Elmore AJ, ‡Vest KR, and Okin GS (2011) Beryllium‐7 in soils and vegetation along an arid precipitation gradient in Owens Valley, California.  Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 38, article# L09401.  DOI:10.1029/2011GL047242.

Kaste JM, Bostick BC, Heimsath AM, Steinnes E, and Friedland A (2011) Using atmospheric fallout to date organic horizon layers and quantify metal dynamics during decomposition.  Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, vol. 75(6), pp. 1642-1661.    DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2011.01.011.

Kaste JM, and Baskaran M (2011) Meteoric 7Be and 10Be as Process Tracers in the Environment, In: “Handbook of Environmental Isotope Geochemistry” edited by Mark Baskaran.  Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-10637-8.

Clausen JL, Kaste J, Ketterer M, and Korte N (2010) Sample preparation and digestion considerations for determining metal deposition at small arms ranges.  International Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry, vol. 90, pp. 903-921.

Black E, Renshaw CE, Magilligan FJ, Kaste JM, Dade WB, and Landis JD (2010) Determining lateral migration rates of meandering rivers using fallout radionuclides.  Geomorphology, vol. 123, pp. 364-369.

Fisher GB, Magilligan FJ, Kaste JM, and Nislow KH (2010) Constraining the timescales of sediment sequestration associated with large woody debris using cosmogenic Be-7.  Journal of Geophysical Research- Earth Surface, vol. 115, article no. F01013. DOI: 10.1029/2009JF001352.

Dixon JL, Heimsath AM, Kaste J, and Amundson R (2009) Climate-driven processes of hillslope weathering.  Geology, vol. 37, pp. 975-978.

Svendsen KM, Renshaw CE, Magilligan FJ, Nislow KH, and Kaste JM (2009) Flow and sediment regimes at tributary junctions on a regulated river: impact on sediment residence time and benthic macroinvertebrate communities.  Hydrological Processes, vol. 23, pp. 284-296.

Elmore AJ, Kaste JM, Okin GS, Fantle MS (2008) Groundwater influences on atmospheric dust generation in deserts. Journal of Arid Environments , vol. 72, pp.1753– 1765

Schroth AW, Bostick BC, Kaste JM, Friedland AJ (2008) Lead sequestration and species redistribution during soil organic matter decomposition. Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 42, pp. 3627-3633.

Kaste JM, Heimsath AM, and BC Bostick (2007), Tracing short-term soil mixing with fallout radionuclides. Geology, vol. 35, pp. 243-246.

Kaste JM, Bostick BC, Friedland AJ, Schroth AW, and TG Siccama (2006) Fate and speciation of gasoline-derived lead in organic horizons of the Northeastern USA. Soil Science Society of America Journal, vol. 70, pp.1688-1698.

Kaste JM, Bostick BC, Heimsath, AM (2006) Determining 234Th and 238U in rocks, soils, and sediments via the doublet gamma at 93 keV. The Analyst, vol. 131, pp. 757-763.

Kaste JM, Heimsath AM, and Hohmann MG (2006) Quantifying sediment transport across an undisturbed prairie landscape using 137Cs and high resolution topography. Geomorphology, vol. 76, pp. 430-440.

Kaste JM, Friedland AJ, and Miller EK (2005) Potentially mobile lead fractions in montane organic-rich soil horizons. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, vol.167, pp. 139-154.

Kaste JM, Friedland AJ, and Sturup S (2003) Using stable and radioactive isotopes to trace atmospherically-deposited Pb in montane forest soils. Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 37, pp. 3560-3567.

Kaste JM, Norton SA, and Hess CT (2002) Environmental Chemistry of Beryllium-7: Mineralogical Society of America, Special Volume 50, 271-289