Washington State University

School of the Environment

Kent Keller



  • Groundwater Biogeochemistry, Geol 579
  • Water and the Earth, Geol 315
  • Groundwater, Geol 475
  • Environmental Geology, Geol / ESRP 303
  • Issues and Ethics in Natural Resources and the Environment, NATRS 594

K. Keller

Research interests:

Chemical weathering and chemical denudation dissolve and wash the continents into the oceans, thereby controlling the chemistry of the ocean/atmosphere system and Earth habitability.  I am fascinated by how ecosystem development affects these processes, both presently and in the geologic past.  To understand these issues requires geobiologic explorations in the Critical Zone, at the intersection of hydrology, pedology, geochemistry, ecology, and microbiology.  (Recent publication 1recent publication 2 , and recent publication 3 describes recent research of ours in this area.)

NV-gas Slide17


We are doing NSF/ETBC-funded research into how chemical weathering mechanisms are affected by rhizospheric processes.  Our approach is experimental, with mycorrhizal trees growing in replicated hydrologic columns on which we can do detailed mass balances, as well as microscopic studies of the microbial biofilms that attach the tree root systems to mineral surfaces.  We hypothesize that key weathering processes are micro-localized within these biofilms.  We will use multi-scale reactive transport modeling to constrain our interpretations. Click here to read a précis of our research plans.

The water resources of the Palouse region, home of Washington State University, are as pristine and precious at depth (read more) as they are polluted at the surface.  The latter are heavily affected (read more) by the production links of our food system, a fascinating nexus in which we are all implicated. I am presently involved inNSPIRE, an NSF IGERT grant funding 25 PhD fellowships over 5 years to support collaborative studies of the nitrogen cycle and its perturbations, integrated with experiential learning of pertinent public policy.  I continue to work with a broad range of colleagues on the flood-basalt hydrogeology of our region (read more).

Selected Publications:

(* Publications with student authors)

  • Moravec B.G., C.K.Keller, J.L.Smith, R.M.Allen-King, A.J.Goodwin, J.P.Fairley, P.B.Larson. Oxygen-18 dynamics in precipitation and streamflow in a semi-arid agricultural watershed, Eastern Washington, USA. In press. Hydrol. Processes.
  • *Balogh-Brunstad Z, Keller CK, Gill R, Bormann BT, Li CY. 2008. The effect of bacteria and fungi on chemical weathering and chemical denudation fluxes in pine growth experiments. Biogeochemistry 88:153-167.
  • *Balogh-Brunstad Z, Keller CK, Bormann BT, O’Brien R, Wang D, Hawley G. 2008. Chemical Weathering and Chemical Denudation Dynamics through Ecosystem Development and Disturbance. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 22, DOI 10.1029/2007/GB002957
  • Douglas, A.A., J. L. Osiensky, and C. Kent Keller, 2006. Carbon-14 dating of ground water in the Palouse Basin of the Columbia river basalts. J. Hydrol. 334:502-512.
  • Keller, C.K., Butcher, C.N., J.L. Smith, and R.A. Allen-King. 2008. Nitrate in tile drainage in the semi-arid Palouse Basin. Journal of Environmental Quality 37:353-361.
  • Keller, C.K., T.M. White, R. O’Brien, and J.L. Smith, 2006. Soil CO2 dynamics and fluxes as affected by tree harvest in an experimental sand ecosystem. JGR-Biogeosciences 111, G03011
  • McDaniel, J. Boll, and C.K. Keller. 2005.  Paleosols as deep regolith: Implications for ground-water recharge across a loessial climosequence. Geoderma 126:85-99.
  • Keller, C.K., R. O’Brien, J.R. Havig, J.L Smith, B.T. Bormann, and D. Wang, 2006. Tree harvest in an experimental sand ecosystem:  Plant effects on nutrient dynamics and solute generation. Ecosystems 9:634-646.

kent keller

School of the Environment
Washington State University
Webster 827
Pullman, WA 99164-2812

(509) 335-3040
School of the Environment, PO Box 642812, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-2812, 509-335-3009, Contact Us
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