Dr. A. Joshua West

Weathering and organic carbon transport along the Andes-Amazon gradient in Peru


With support from the US National Science Foundation program in Geobiology & Low-temperature Geochemistry, as well as funding to students and collaborators, I have been helping to lead a multi-year, multi-disciplinary study of hydrologic and biogeochemical processes across the Andes-Amazon transition. Please see our Andes-Amazon project website to find out more about this project!

Selected Research Projects

Geomorphic and Geochemical effects of a large continental earthquake: Case study of Wenchuan 2008


The 2008 Wenchuan earthquake triggered thousands of landslides. With support of the NSF Geomorphology and Land Use Dynamics program, we are exploring the physical and chemical consequences of these landslides for the Min Jiang river system, working to understand how rare, large-magnitude events shape our environment.

Development and application of Lithium isotopes as a proxy for weathering and the geologic carbon cycle


Chemical 'proxies' are signals that record environmental conditions or processes, potentially enabling reconstruction of how the Earth system has varied in the past. Lithium isotopes are a promising proxy for the chemical weathering processes that steer the long term C cycle. We are working to (i) identify mineral archives that could allow us to reconstruct the Li isotope composition of seawater in the past, (ii) generate new records for intervals of major change in the geologic past, and (iii) help to better understand existing Li-isotope records, through a combination of modeling and Li isotope studies of modern Earth processes.

Linking deep Earth structure and surface response: The initiation of continental collision in the Banda Arc of Indonesia


In order to understand initial phases of mountain building, I am part of a team combining new imaging of deep Earth structure using seismic tools (led by Prof. Meghan Miller), geodynamic modeling of subduction (led by Prof. Thorsten Becker), and my research group's analysis of geomorphic and erosional response, all with support of the NSF Tectonics program. Read more about this work in postdoc Leland O'Driscoll's field blog, and stay tuned for future updates!

This page gives a flavor for some of the many research projects that we are tackling in my group. Please contact me for further information about these projects, or others!