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Jim Kaste

Professor of Geology

Office: McGlothlin-Street Hall 305
Email: [[jmkaste]]
Office Phone: 757 221 2951
Research Areas: Environmental Geochemistry, Isotope Geochemistry, Sediment Transport

  • 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.

Active Research Projects

1) Radioactive pollution: ionizing radiation in the environment from nuclear weapons detonations and the nuclear fuel cycle.

 -See short video describing a project on the radioactive contamination of honey in the eastern U.S. 

2) Heavy metal pollution: lead, mercury, and zinc in soils and lakes

-See short video describing a project about environmental and pollution records in Lake Matoaka in Williamsburg, VA

 3) Controls on uranium, radium, and radon hazards in soils

 4) Development of new methods for dating sediment layers and measuring soil & water transport with fallout radionuclides 7Be, 22Na, 241Am, 137Cs, 210Pb, 207Bi

Selected Publications

* denotes undergraduate author; ‡ denotes graduate student author

*Frank-DePue L, Vachula RS, Balascio NL, Cahoon K, & Kaste JM (2023) Trends in sedimentary charcoal shapes correspond with broad‑scale land‑use changes: insights gained from a 300‑year lake sediment record from eastern Virginia, USA.  Journal of Paleolimnology, vol 69, pp. 21-36. Download pdf Copy.

Wang Z, Wade AM, Richter DD, Stapleton HM, Kaste JM, & Vengosh A (2022) Legacy of anthropogenic lead in urban soils: Co-occurrence with metal (loids) and fallout radionuclides, isotopic fingerprinting, and in vitro bioaccessibility.  Science of the Total Environment, vol. 806, Article 151276 Download pdf Copy.

Renshaw CE, Dethier EN, Landis JD, & Kaste JM (2022) Seasonal and Longitudinal Variations in Suspended Load Connectivity Between River Channels and Their Margins.  Water Resources Research, vol. 58, article e2021WR031212. Download pdf Copy.

Kaste, JM, *Volante, P. & Elmore, AJ Bomb 137Cs in modern honey reveals a regional soil control on pollutant cycling by plants. Nat Commun 12, 1937 (2021).

Landis JD, Renshaw CE, and Kaste JM (2021) Sorption Behavior and Aerosol−Particulate Transitions of 7Be, 10Be, and 210Pb: A Basis for Fallout Radionuclide Chronometry.  Environmental Science & Technology vol. 55, pp. 14957-14967. Download pdf Copy.

*Shawler JL, Hein CJ, Canuel EA, Kaste JM, Fitzsimons GG, Georgiou IY, Willard DA (2019) Tidal erosion and upstream sediment trapping modulate records of land-use change in a formerly glaciated New England estuary.  Anthropocene Coasts vol. 2, issue 1  pp. 340-361. Download pdf Copy.

Balascio NL, Kaste JM, *Meyer MG, *Renshaw M, *Smith K, and Chambers RM (2019) A high-resolution mill pond record from eastern Virginia (USA) reveals the impact of past landscape changes and regional pollution history.  Anthropocene, vol. 25, article# 100190. Download pdf Copy.

Tasker TL, Burgos WD, Ajemigbitse MA, Lauer NE, Gusa AV, Kuatbek M, May D, Landis JD, Alessi DS, Johnsen AM, Kaste JM, Headrick K, Wilke FDH, McNeal M, Engle M, Jubb AM, Vidic R, Vengosh A and Warner NR (2019) Accuracy of methods for reporting inorganic element concentrations and radioactivity in oil and gas wastewaters from the Appalachian Basin, U.S.based on an inter-laboratory comparison. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 21, pp. 224-241.  doi: 10.1039/C8EM00359A. Download pdf Copy.

*Abrahams ER, Kaste JM, Ouimet W, and Dethier DP (2018) Asymmetric hillslope erosion following wildfire in Fourmile Canyon, Colorado. Earth Surface Processes & Landforms. DOI: 10.1002/esp.4348. Download pdf Copy. 

Bandar AA, Quicksall AN, and Kaste JM (2017) Determination of sedimentation, diffusion, and mixing rates in coastal sediments of the eastern Red Sea via natural and anthropogenic fallout radionuclides. Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 122, pp. 456-463. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.05.054. Download pdf Copy.

Kaste JM, *Lauer NE, *Spaetzel AB, and *Goydan C. (2016) Cosmogenic 22Na as a steady-state tracer of solute transport and water age in first-order catchments. Earth & Planetary Science Letters, vol. 456, pp. 78-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2016.10.002. Download pdf Copy.

Kaste JM, Elmore AJ, ‡Vest KR, and Okin GS (2016) Groundwater controls on episodic soil erosion and dust emissions in a desert ecosystem. Geology, vol. 44 (9). DOI: 10.1130/G37875.1. Download pdf Copy.

Saxton MA, *Naqvi NS, *Rahman F, Thompson CP, Chambers RM, Kaste JM, and Williamson KE (2016) Site-specific environmental factors control bacterial and viral diversity in stormwater retention ponds. Aquatic Microbial Ecology, vol. 77 (1), pp. 23-36. Download pdf Copy.

Landis JD, Renshaw CE, and Kaste JM (2016) Beryllium-7 and lead-210 chronometry of modern soil processes: The Linked Radionuclide aCcumulation model, LRC. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, vol. 180, pp. 109-125. Download pdf Copy.

Hancock G, Hamilton SE, *Stone M, Kaste J, and ‡Lovette J (2015) A Geospatial Methodology to Identify Locations of Concentrated Runoff from Agricultural Fields. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, vol. 51 (6), pp. 1613-1625. Download pdf Copy.

Morra MJ, *Carter MM, Rember WC, and Kaste JM (2015) Reconstructing the history of mining and remediation in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Mining District using lake sediments. Chemosphere, vol. 134, pp. 319-327. Download pdf Copy. 

‡Richardson JB, Donaldson EC, Kaste JM, Friedland AJ (2015) Forest floor lead, copper and zinc concentrations across the northeastern United States: Synthesizing spatial and temporal responses. Science of the Total Environment, vol. 505, pp. 851-859. Download pdf Copy.

Landis JD, Renshaw CE, and Kaste JM (2014) Quantitative Retention of Atmospherically Deposited Elements by Native Vegetation Is Traced by the Fallout Radionuclides 7Be and 210Pb. Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 48 (20), pp. 12022-12030. Download pdf Copy.

‡Hansson SV, Kaste JM, Olid C, and Bindler R (2014) Incorporation of radiometric tracers in peat and implications for estimating accumulation rates. Science of the Total Environment, vol. 493, pp. 170-177. Download pdf Copy.

Hansson SV, Kaste JM, Chen K, and Bindler R (2014) Beryllium-7 as a natural tracer for short-term downwash in peat. Biogeochemistry, vol. 119 (1-3), pp.329-339. Download pdf Copy.

Richardson JB, Friedland AJ, Kaste JM, and Jackson BP (2014) Forest floor lead changes from 1980-2011 and subsequent accumulation in the mineral soil across the northeastern United States. Journal of Environmental Quality, vol. 43 (3), pp. 926-935. Download pdf Copy. 

Kaste JM, Magilligan FJ, Renshaw CE, Fisher GB, and Dade WB (2014) Seasonal controls on meteoric 7Be in coarse-grained river channels. Hydrological Processes, vol. 28, 2738-2748. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9800. Download pdf Copy.

*Caverly E, Kaste JM, Hancock GS, and Chambers RM (2013) Dissolved and particulate organic carbon fluxes from an agricultural watershed during consecutive tropical storms. Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 40, pp. 1-6. DOI:10.1002/grl.50982. Download pdf Copy.

Richardson JB, Friedland AJ, Kaste JM, *Engebretson TR, and Jackson BP (2013) Spatial and vertical distribution of mercury in upland forest soils across the northeastern United States. Environmental Pollution vol. 182 pp. 127-134.  DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2013.07.01. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

*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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy. 

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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. Download pdf Copy.

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