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Earth Wind and Fire Lab



What controls the processes and rates of soil formation in semi-arid mountainous ecosystems? How much carbon (both organic carbon and inorganic carbon) is stored in soils, and how can we better understand the factors that govern carbon storage and release?

How do soil characteristics (soil textures and depths) reflect changes in the balance among weathering, erosion and dust deposition? How do these characteristics change with aspect and elevation?


How do dust inputs influence soil development? What are the relative contributions of wind and water to erosion following wildfire?


How do climate, vegetation, fire activity and geomorphic response interact over years to millennia? How does the geomorphic response to fire (floods and debris flows) change with changes in climate and vegetation? How can we better prepare our communities for post-fire floods and debris flows?

Faculty and Staff:

The Earth, Wind and Fire lab is directed by Dr. Jen Pierce and administered by Kerry Weppner.  The Lab Manger is Jenna Duffin.  Please contact jennaduffin[at] if you have any questions about our facilities.

Current Students and Projects

Our current projects include an NSF CZN Drylands project.  This collaborative project integrates Critical Zone Science among scientists at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), New Mexico State University (NMSU), Boise State University (BSU), and University of Wyoming (UW). This project is also highly relevant for advancing STEAM education at all levels to a representative population of the southwestern U.S.

Tanzila Hanif, Zahra Ghahremani, Danielle Marquette, Abigail Axness, Kerry Molina, Kyle LaCoursiere




Former Students and Projects

serious lab

Mike Poulos – PhD Candidate – Geosciences

Dissertation title: “Aspect-related Differences in Critical Zone Properties and Processes: Relationships Among Fire, Erosion, Soils, Water, Vegetation, Landforms, and Broadscale Spatial Patterns

Valley asymmetry is the condition where slopes on one side of a valley have different characteristics than on the opposite side. Our research utilizes valleys as natural laboratories to explore how aspect-induced insolation differences perturb local climate, which drives eco-hydro-pedo-geomorphic feedbacks that affect erosion rates and processes, regolith and soil cover, hydrologic processes, drainage dynamics, and ultimately landscape evolution. Data from the Dry Creek Experimental Watershed were used to develop an integrative conceptual framework, which we are testing at broader scales using remotely measurable land surface data.


Chris Stanbery, MS Hydrology

I conduct my research in the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed looking at soil inorganic carbon (SIC) stored in carbonate minerals. SIC is a significant pool of terrestrial carbon, but its storage and flux are not well studied. For my project, I have worked to establish the threshold of the presence or absence of SIC in the watershed through extensive field sampling and laboratory analysis. Additionally, I used the data collected to help establish the hierarchy of controls on SIC accumulation.

Chris 1
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