Matthew S. Lachniet

Professor of Geology

Ph.D. - Syracuse University: 2001

Paleoclimatology, Stable Isotope Geochemistry

Room: SEB 3240
Mailstop: 4022
Telephone: (702) 895-4388
Fax: (702) 895-4064
Las Vegas Isotope Science Lab (LVIS)


Dr. Lachniet has an active research program in which he uses light stable and radiogenic isotope geochemistry, hydrology, speleology, glacial geology, geomorphology, and the sedimentary record to answer questions of paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic change. His primary research areas are Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Alaska, and the Great Basin

His research goal is to constrain past climate changes in these regions using proxy records. He is particularly interested in generating rainfall histories for Central America and to evaluate the climate forcings of climate change and variability in the neotropics. What processes control tropical and subtropical paleoclimates? Do the tropics have a stable or unstable climate? As the 'heat engine' of the earth, do the tropics drive climate change in higher latitudes? Or do the tropics respond passively to extratropical climate perturbations? How has the El Nino
/Southern Oscillation changed over time? What will be the tropical response to anthropogenic climate change? These are some of the questions he is attempting to answer with his research.

His research attempts to resolve this problem through generation of high-resolution (sub-annual to decadal), precisely dated, quantitative isotopic proxy records from speleothems (cave calcite deposits). Speleothem isotopic records will help to resolve continuing debates about tropical-extratropical teleconnections on both a regional and a global scale, and provide insight into the history and dynamics of monsoonal precipitation. Together with studies on modern stable isotope climatology and hydrology, and traditional geologic investigations such as tropical glaciation, his research is making substantial progress in elucidating neotropical Quaternary paleoclimates.

Selected Publications

(Full Publication List)

Lachniet, M.S., Bernal, J. P., Asmerom, Y., Polyak, V., and Piperno, D., 2012. A 2400-yr rainfall history links climate and cultural change in Mexico. Geology 40, 259-262.

Lachniet, M.S., Lawson, D. E., and Sloat, A., 2012. Revised 14C dating of ice wedge growth in interior Alaska to MIS2 reveals cold paleoclimate and carbon recycling in ancient permafrost terrain. Quaternary Research 78, 217-225.

Lachniet, M.S., Asmerom, Y., and Polyak, V., 2011. North Atlantic forcing of the last deglaciation in the southwestern United States. Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 3803-3811.

Lachniet, M.S., 2009a. Climatic and environmental controls on speleothem oxygen isotope values. Quaternary Science Reviews 28, 412-432, doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.10.021.

Lachniet, M.S., 2009b. Sea surface temperature control on the stable isotopic composition of rainfall in Panama. Geophysical Research Letters 36, L03701, doi:10.1029/2008GL036625.


    GEOG 101 Physical Geography
    GEOL 110 Global Warming
    GEOL 333 Principles of Geomorphology (every Spring Semester)
    GEOL 334 Environmental Geology
    GEOL 437 Paleoclimatology

    GEOL 730 Quaternary Seminar
    Death Valley Field Trip Photographic Highlights: 2005, 2006, 2007

    GEOL 637 - Paleoclimatology
    GEOL 707 - Stable Isotope Geochemistry
    GEOL 730 - Seminar in Quaternary Studies