Craig Rasmussen

Shantz Building, 520
Office Phone: 
(520) 621-7223
(520) 621-1647

UC Davis Environmental and Resource Science, B.S., 1996

UC Davis Soil Science, Ph.D., 2004

2016-present. Professor of Environmental Pedology, University of Arizona

2011-2016. Assoc. Professor of Environmental Pedology, University of Arizona

2007-present. Director of the Center for Environmental Physics and Mineralogy

2005-2011. Asst. Professor of Environmental Pedology, University of Arizona

2000-2004. Research Assistant, Land, Air, and Water Resources Department, UC Davis

1996-2004. Soil Scientist and GIS Specialist, Terra Spase Inc., Napa, CA

Research in the Environmental Pedology Group:
Many of the active research projects in the Environmental Pedology laboratory are collaborative in nature and integrate related, but traditionally separate fields of study such as pedology, microbiology, geomorphology, soil physics, and climatology. One example of such research is a NSF sponsored project (DEB#0543130) examining how variation in soil parent material and the soil mineral assemblage control the stabilization and sequestration of organic carbon in temperate conifer forests. In particular, this project is focused on the role of aluminum as a stabilizing agent via its effects on the soil microbial community, organo-metal complexation, organo-mineral interaction, and soil carbon mean residence time. This project bridges soil chemistry, pedology, and soil microbiology and includes collaborators from the SWES Dept. and Northern Arizona University.

We also have an active project sponsored by the Army Research Office investigating the linkage among environmental energy and mass transfer, pedogenesis, and soil production and soil depth distribution across hillslopes in semiarid ecosystems. The project seeks to couple several theoretical and numerical models describing mineral weathering and sediment transport with high resolution terrain and elevation data from LiDAR imaging to quantitatively predict soil development, physical and chemical weathering, and hillslope diffusivity at pedon to watershed scales.

We also maintain active research collaboration with USDA Natural Resources Conversation Service soil scientists investigating the potential for improving soil survey process and data using digital geographic datasets such as remote sensing, digital elevation models, and geologic data. The current project “Predictive Soil Mapping in Southern Arizona” in particular is a close collaboration and cooperative agreement with the NRCS to provide a predictive soil “pre-map” for a large unmapped area of southern Arizona. We will also be exploring the use of this pre-map to determine a statistically robust sampling design that will enable high resolution spatial interpolation of soil physical and chemical properties.

For the past several years a group of researchers at the University of Arizona have been working closely with a local land owner to better understand and predict the aboveground productivity response of semiarid rangeland to climate variability and climate change. This project couples pedologic data, a physically based numerical model of soil-water dynamics, meterological data and remote sensing time series to quantify how soils modulate the response of these systems to climate forcing.

Finally, the Environmental Pedology Group has recently joined forces with the Environmental and Soil Physics Groups in the SWES Dept. to create the Center for Environmental Physics and Mineralogy (CEPM). CEPM combines state of the art technology in order to provide high quality physical and mineralogical characterization of earth surface and other porous materials. Go to: for more information.

I have taught courses in Soil Genesis, Morphology and Classification, Advanced Soil Genesis, Soil Geomorphology, and Soil and Water Conservation.

See the Environmental Pedology Group website at: for a complete and update list.

Chorover J., Troch P.A., Rasmussen C., Brooks P., Pelletier J., Breshears D.D., Huxman T., Lohse K., McIntosh J., Meixner T., Papuga S., Schaap M., Litvak M., Perdrial J. Harpold A., and Durcik M. 2011. How Water, Carbon, and Energy Drive Critical Zone Evolution: The Jemez-Santa Catalina Critical Zone Observatory. Vadose Zone Journal, 10(3): 884-899.

Heckman, K. and C. Rasmussen. 2011. Lithologic controls on regolith weathering and mass flux in forested ecosystems of the southwestern USA. Geoderma 164: 99-111.

Heckman, K, Vazquez-Ortega, A., Gao, X., Chorover, J., Rasmussen, C. 2011. Changes in water extractable organic matter during incubation of forest floor material in the presence of quartz, goethite and gibbsite surfaces. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75: 4295-4309.

Fernández, J., Plante, A., Leifeld, J., and C. Rasmussen. 2011. Methodological considerations for using thermal analysis in the characterization of soil organic matter. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, 104: 389-398.

Pelletier, J.D., McGuire L.,Ash J., Engelder, T., Hill L., Leroy, K., Orem, C., Rosenthal, S., Trees, M., Rasmussen, C., Chorover, J.. 2011. Calibration and testing of upland hillslope evolution models in a dated landscape: Banco Bonito, New Mexico, USA. Journal of Geophysical Research, doi:10.1029/2011JF001976.

Levi, M.R. and C. Rasmussen. 2011. Considerations for Atmospheric Correction of Surface Reflectance for Soil Survey Applications. Soil Survey Horizons 52:48-55.

Richter, D. et al. 2011. Human-soil relations are changing rapidly: Proposals from SSSA’s cross-divisional soil change working group. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 75: 6: 2079-2084 .

Legatzki, A., M. Ortiz, J.W. Neilson, R.R. Casavant, M.W. Palmer, C. Rasmussen, B.M. Pryor, L.S. Pierson III, and R.M. Maier. 2011. Factors influencing observed variations in the structure of bacterial communities on calcite formations in Kartchner Caverns, AZ, USA. Geomicrobiology (In Press).

Rasmussen, C. 2011. Thermodynamic constraints on effective energy and mass transfer and catchment function. Hydrology and Earth System Science (In Press).

Heckman, K., Welty-Benard, A., Vazquez-Ortega, A., Schwartz, E., Chorover, J. and C. Rasmussen. The influence of goethite and gibbsite on soluble nutrient dynamics and microbial community composition. Biogeochemistry (In Press)