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Leslie Baker

Leslie Baker

Research Faculty


McClure 203



Mailing Address

Department of Geological Sciences
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3022
Moscow, ID 83844-3022

  • Ph.D., Geological Sciences, 1996—Brown University, Providence, RI
  • M.S., Geological Sciences, 1992—Brown University, Providence, RI
  • B.A., Geology, 1990—Rice University, Houston, TX

  • Environmental geochemistry of mining-contaminated wetlands
  • Synthesis, structure and properties of aluminosilicate nanoparticles
  • Basalt weathering and clay formation on Earth and Mars

  • Bishop, J.L., Rampe, E.B., Bish, D.L., Abidin, Z., Baker, L.L., Matsui, N., and Henmi, T. 2013. Spectral and hydration properties of allophane and imogolite. Clays and Clay Minerals 61, 57-74.
  • Baker, L.L. and Strawn, D.G. 2012. Fe K-edge XAFS spectra of phyllosilicates of varying crystallinity. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals 39, 675-684.
  • Baker, L.L., Rember, W.R., Sprenke, K.F. and Strawn, D.G. 2012. Celadonite in continental flood basalts of the Columbia River group. American Mineralogist 97, 1284-1290.
  • Strawn, D.G., Hickey, P.J., McDaniel, P.A., and Baker, L.L. 2012. Contaminant distribution in redoximorphic aggregates from mine-waste impacted wetland soils. Journal of Soils and Sediments 12, 1100-1110. DOI 10.1007/s11368-012-0543-8.
  • Baker, L.L., Strawn, D.G., Rember, W.R., and Sprenke, K.F. 2011. Metal content of wildfire charcoal in mining-impacted wetland sediments. Science of the Total Environment 409, 588-594.
  • McBride, M.B., Rao Mathur, R., and Baker, L.L. 2011. Chemical extractability of lead in field-contaminated soils: Implications for estimating total lead. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 42, 1581-1593.
  • Baker, L.L., Strawn, D.G., Vaughan, K.L., and McDaniel, P.A. 2010. XAS study of Fe mineralogy in a chronosequence of soil clays formed on basaltic cinders. Clays and Clay Minerals 58, 772-782.
  • Baker, L.L., Strawn, D.G., and Smith, R.A. 2010. Cation exchange on Vadose Zone Research Park subsurface sediments, Idaho National Laboratory. Vadose Zone Journal 9, 476-485.
  • Strawn, D.G. and Baker, L.L. 2009. Molecular characterization of copper in soils using x-ray absorption spectroscopy. Environmental Pollution 157, 2813-2821.
  • Strawn, D.G. and Baker, L.L. 2008. Speciation of Cu in a contaminated agricultural soil measured by XAFS, µ-XAFS and µ-XRF. Environmental Science and Technology 42, 37-42.

  • Using palynomorphs to test models of heat transfer from silicate melts into wet sediments
    We are using changes in spectral properties of fossil pollen from Miocene sediments at Clarkia, Idaho, to measure the temperature to which sediments were heated around a basalt dike. Our collaborators at USGS-Flagstaff will use the sediment temperature profiles to test numerical models of heat transfer.
  • Nontronite formation in Columbia River Basalts
    Nontronite, a dioctahedral ferric smectite, is among the first weathering products formed from Columbia River Basalts. We are examining the distribution of nontronite and other clay minerals, the chemistry and structure of individual clay occurrences, and how these relate to basalt hydrology and to basalt-water interaction during emplacement. These field occurrences are analogs for clay mineral outcrops on Mars and may help in understanding the history of Martian water-rock interactions.
  • Synthesis, structure, stability, and sorption properties of nanoaluminosilicates
    We are examining the structure and properties of allophane, a nanospherical aluminosilicate, and of imogolite and halloysite, nanotubular aluminosilicates. These materials are found in soils formed on volcanic ash precursors, and strongly affect soil properties such as water holding capacity and nutrient sorption. We have synthesized Fe-substituted versions of these minerals to study their structure using synchrotron-based Fe K-edge EXAFS.
  • Metal contaminant speciation and transport in mining-contaminated wetlands
    Wetland soils in the Coeur d’Alene river valley of north Idaho were extensively contaminated by mine waste and mill tailings, and contain highly elevated amounts of Pb, Zn, As, and Cd, among other contaminants. We are studying the speciation of these contaminants in wetland soils and how it is affected by seasonal changes, as well as possible treatments to reduce Pb bioavailability.
  • Glassy coatings on basalts at Craters of the Moon, Idaho, and their effects on habitability
    (With Chris McKay and the NASA Idaho Spaceward Bound team.) We are examining distribution of blue glassy coatings on several lava flows at Craters of the Moon and how they affect colonization by lichens. We hypothesize that reactions stimulated by UV light on nanoscale oxides in the coatings may produce oxidants hostile to life forms. This project is being scaled for field use by Idaho K-12 science teachers with their students.
  • Effects of weathering on basalt strength, and application to Mars Exploration Rover Rock Abrasion Tool data
    (With Brad Thomson at Boston University, Joel Hurowitz at NASA-JPL, and other collaborators.) We have sampled several weathering transects beneath paleosol layers in Columbia River Basalts and measured weathering index, rock strength, and resistance to grinding. These rocks will serve as analogs to rocks examined by the MER rovers and provide an index of the extent of weathering of the Martian target rocks.


Department of Geological Sciences

Physical Address:
McClure Hall 203

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3022
Moscow, ID 83844-3022

Phone: 208-885-6192


Web: Geological Sciences