Skip to main content
Stephen T. Nelson picture

Steve Nelson

Professor
Faculty

S-336 ESC

Current Position

Professor of Geological Sciences (2007-present), Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Previous Experience

  • Associate Professor of Geology (2000-2007), Brigham Young University
  • Assistant Professor of Geology (1997-2000), Brigham Young University
  • Member, Chair, and Vice-Chair, Utah State Radiation Control Board [Board membership by Gubernatorial appointment] 1998-2008 representing regulated academic institutions

Education

  • BS, Brigham Young University, 1984
  • MS, Brigham Young University, 1987
  • Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1991

Summary of Current Research

  • The response of arid groundwater systems to climate change, including structural and stratigraphic controls on interbasin flow.
  • Weathering rates of tropical islands to understand the relative importance of dissolved loads in groundwater vs. dissolved and suspended loads in surface water.
  • Climate records, especially diatoms, recorded in wetlands developed on high-elevation landslides.

- Lake Bonneville shoreline features -

Lab Equipment

  • Ortec Octete 8-channel alpha spectroscopy system and accompanying items for U-series analysis of carbonates and waters and 210Pb analysis of ice and sediment
  • Diatom cleaning and mounting lab
  • Olympus DIC microscope for diatom identification and counting
  • PerkinElmer Wallac Quantulus [ultra-low-level] and Guardian [low-level] liquid scintillation counters for 3H and 14C analysis
  • TASK benzene synthesizer for sample preparation natural abundance 14C measurements
  • Distillation and electrolytic enrichment equipment for 3H sample preparation
  • Finnigan MAT Deltaplus stable isotope ratio mass spectrometer, equipped for automated analysis of H- and O-isotopes in water and elemental analyzers for C,N, & S isotopes
  • Conventional vaccum extraction line for stable isotope analysis of carbonate materials
  • Vacuum extraction line for isolation of CO2 from atmospheric and soil gases

Teaching Assignments

  • GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE 101: introductory physical geology for nonmajors
  • GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE 111: introductory physical geology for majors
  • GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE 545: high-temperature isotope geochemistry
  • GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE 546: low-temperature isotope geochemistry
  • GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE 491R/591R: department seminar for undergraduate and graduate students

Articles

data-content-type="article"

How are local dry lakes impacting air quality and human health?

January 06, 2022 02:34 PM
New study reveals that 90 percent of urban dust comes from dry lakebeds
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
data-content-type="article"

Assessment of soil features on the growth of environmental nontuberculous mycobacterial isolates from Hawai’i

November 10, 2021 03:17 PM
Recently BYU has collarborated with National Jewish Health in Denver to look at the potential of lung infections arising from nontuberculous mycobacteria residing in the soil. In this particular article they studied the soils in Hawai'i where soil compositions differ from other areas of the world.
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText= overrideTextAlignment=
overrideBackgroundColorOrImage= overrideTextColor= overrideTextAlignment= overrideCardHideSection=false overrideCardHideByline=false overrideCardHideDescription=false overridebuttonBgColor= overrideButtonText=


Publications

Publications (items with ** are based on MS student theses)

  • McBride, J.H., Nelson, S.T., Park, C.B., Wolfe, E.E., Tingey, D.G., and Rey, K.A., 2019, Ocean waves as a passive MASW source; Journal of Applied Geophysics, in press.
  • **Goodman. M.M., Carling, G.T., Fernandez, D.P., Rey, K.A., Hale, C.A., Bickmore, B.R., Nelson, S.T., and Munroe, J.S., 2019, Trace element chemistry of atmospheric deposition along the Wasatch Front (Utah, USA) reflects regional playa dust and local urban aerosols: Chemical Geology, in press.
  • **Randall, M.C., Carling, G.T., Dastrup, D.B., Miller, T., Nelson, S.T., Rey, K., Hansen, N., Bickmore, B.R., Aanderud, Z.T., 2019, Sediment potentially controls in-lake phosphorus cycling and harmful cyanobacteria in shallow, eutrophic Utah Lake: PLOS One, 14p.e0212238.
  • Nelson, S.T., and McBride, J.H., 2019, Application of HVSR to estimating thickness of laterite weathering profiles in basalt: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, v. 44, p.1365-1376.
  • **Hudson, S.M., Hillam, S.A., Barker, J., Nelson, S.T., and Rey, K.A., 2019, Pyrolysis of modern wetland sediment: extracting climate records from fens in the Uinta Mountains and Fish Lake Plateau, Utah, USA: Boreas, v. 48, p.810-824.
  • **Dastrup, D.B., Carling, G.T., Collins, S.A., Nelson, S.T., Fernandez, D.P., Tingey, D.G., Hahnenberger, M. and Aanderud, Z.T., 2018, Aeolian dust chemistry and bacterial communities in snow are unique to airshed locations across northern Utah, USA: Atmospheric Environment, v. 193, p.251-261.
  • **Smith, K.M., McBride, J.H., Nelson, S.T., Keach, II, R.W., Hudson, S.M., Tingey, D.G., Rey, K.A., and Carling, G.T., 2018, An Integrated High-Resolution Geophysical and Geological Visualization of a Lake Bonneville Shoreline Deposit (Utah, USA): Interpretation, v. 7, p. 1-18.
  • **Sowards, K., Nelson, S.T., McBride, J.H., Bickmore, B., Heizler, M.T., Tingey, D.G., Rey, K.A., and Yaede, J.R., 2018, A Conceptual Model for the Rapid Weathering of Tropical Ocean Islands: A Synthesis of Geochemistry and Geophysics, Kohala Peninsula, Hawaii, USA: Geosphere, v. 14, p. 1324-1342.
  • **Nelson, S.T., and Rey, K.A., 2018, A multi-proxy reassessment of the paleolimnology of Lake Bonneville (western USA) as observed in the restricted Pilot Valley sub-basin: Journal of Quaternary Science, v. 33, p. 177-193.
  • **Goodsell, T., Carling, G.T., Aanderud, Z., Nelson, S.T., Fernandez, D., and Tingey, D.G., 2017, Thermal groundwater contributions of arsenic and other trace elements to the middle Provo River, Utah, USA: Earth and Environmental Sciences, v. 76 article 268, published on line March 2017, DOI 10.1007/s12665-017-6594-9
  • **Shurtliff, R.A., Nelson, S.T., McBride, J.H., Rey, K.A., Tucker, J.C., Godwin, S.B., and Tingey, D.G., 2017, A 13,000-year multi-proxy climate record from central Utah (western USA), emphasizing conditions leading to large mass movements: Boreas, v. 36, p. 308-324. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bor.12213/full
  • Rey, K.A., Mayo, A.L., Tingey, D.G., and Nelson, S.T., 2016, Late Pleistocene to early Holocene sedimentary history of the Lake Bonneville Pilot Valley embayment, Utah-Nevada, USA, in C.G. Oviatt and J.F. Schroder eds. Lake Bonneville: A Scientific Update, Developments in Earth Surface Processes, v. 20, p. 184-220.
  • **South, J.V., McBride, J.H., Mayo, A.L., Tingey, D.G., Carling, G.T., Rey, K.A., Nelson, S.T., 2016, Imaging the Margins of Pleistocene Lake Deposits with High-Resolution Seismic Reflection in the Eastern Basin and Range: Pilot Valley, Utah (USA), in C.G. Oviatt and J.F. Schroder eds. Lake Bonneville: A Scientific Update, Developments in Earth Surface Processes, v. 20 p. 526-550.
  • Carling, G.T., Tingey, D.G., Fernandes, D.P., Nelson, S.T., Aanderud, Z.T., Goodsell, T.H., and Chapman, T.R., 2015, Evaluating natural and anthropogenic trace element inputs along a mountain to urban gradient in the Provo River, Utah, USA gradient: Applied Geochemistry, v. 63, p. 398-412.
  • **McBride, J.H., Nelson, S.T., Heiner, B.D., Tingey, D.G., Morris, T.H., and Rey, K.A., 2015, The neotectonics of the Sevier Desert Basin, Utah as seen through the lens of muti-scale geophysical investigations: Tectonophysics, v. 654, p. 131-155.
  • **Yaede, J.R., McBride, J.H., Nelson, S.T., Park, C.B., Flores, J.A., Turnbull, S.J., Tingey, D.G., Jacobsen, R.T., Dong, C.D., and Gardner, N.L., 2015, A geophysical strategy for measuring the thickness of the critical zone developed over basalt lavas: Geosphere, v. 11, p. 513-532.
  • Nelson, S.T., and Mayo, A.L., 2015, Reply to comment on “The role of interbasin groundwater transfers in geologically complex terranes, demonstrated by the Great Basin in the western United States”: Hydrogeology Journal, DOI DOI 10.1007/s10040-014-1209-y.
  • Knight, A.W., Eitrheim, E.S., Nelson, A.W., Nelson, S., and Schultz, M.K., 2014, A simple-rapid method to separate uranium, thorium, and protactinium for U-series age-dating of materials: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, v. 134, p. 66-74. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2014.02.010
  • Nelson, S.T., and Mayo, A.L., 2014, The role of interbasin groundwater transfers in geologically complex terranes, demonstrated by the Great Basin in the western United States: Hydrogeology Journal, v. 22, p. 807-822, DOI 10.1007/s10040-014-1104-6.
  • **Major, J., Harris, R., Chiang, H., Cox, N., Shen, C., Nelson, S.T., Prasetyadi, C., and Rianto, A., 2013, Quaternary hinterland evolution of the active Banda Arc: Surface uplift and neotectonic deformation recorded by coral terraces at Kisar, Indonesia: Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, v. 73, p. 149-161, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jseaes.2013.04.023
  • **Mayo, A.L., Nelson, S.T., McBride, J.H., Durrant-Mease, C., Tingey, D.G., and Aubrey, D., 2013, A combined geological, hydrochemical and geophysical approach to understanding a disease contamination hazard in groundwaters at a state fish hatchery: Natural Hazards, DOI 10.1007/s11069-013-0722-y
  • Pitblado, B.L., Cannon, M.B., Neff, H., Dehler, C.M., and Nelson, S.T., 2013, LA-ICP-MS Analysis of Quartzite from the Upper Gunnison Basin, Colorado: Journal of Archaeological Science, v. 40, p. 2196-2216. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.11.016.
  • Nelson, S.T., Tingey, D.G., and Selck, B., 2013, The denudation of ocean islands by ground and surface waters: The effects of climate, soil thickness, and water contact times on Oahu, Hawaii: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 103, p. 276-294. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2012.09.046.
  • **Gillespie, J., Nelson, S.T., Mayo, A.L., and Tingey, D.G., 2012, Why conceptual groundwater flow models matter: a trans-boundary example from the arid Great Basin, western U.S.A.: Hydrogeology Journal, v. 20, p. 1133-1145. doi: 10.1007/s10040-012-0848-0. An Editor’s Choice article for 2012.
  • McBride, J.H., Guthrie, W.S., Faust, D.L., and Nelson, S.T., 2012, A structural study of thermal tufas using ground-penetrating radar: Journal of Applied Geophysics, v. 81, p. 38-47, doi:10.1016/j.jappgeo.2011.09.011.
  • Gillfilan, S.M.V., Wilkinson, M., Hazeldine, R.S., Shipton, Z.K., Nelson, S.T., and Poreda, R.J., 2011, He and Ne as tracers of natural CO2 migration up a fault from a deep reservoir: International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, doi:10.1016/j.ijggc.2011.08.008
  • Nelson, S.T., Hart, G.L., and Frost, C.D., 2011, A reassessment of Mojavia and a new Cheyenne Belt alignment in the eastern Great Basin: Geosphere v. 7; p. 513–527; doi:10.1130/GES00595.1
  • **Parks, E.M., McBride, J.H., Nelson, S.T., Tingey, D.G., Mayo, A.L., Guthrie, W.S., and Hoopes, J.C., 2011, Comparing electromagnetic and seismic geophysical methods: estimating the depth to water in geologically simple and complex arid environments: Engineering Geology, v. 117, p. 62-77.
  • **Hart, R., Nelson, S.T., and Eggett, D., 2010, Uncertainty in 14C model ages of groundwater: The influence of soil gas in terranes dominated by C3 plants: Journal of Hydrology, v. 392 p. 83–95.
  • Mayo, A.L., Herron, D., Nelson, S.T., Tingey, D.G., and Tranel, M.J., 2010, Geology and hydrogeology of Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Utah in Sprinkel, D.A. Chidsey, Jr., T, and Anderson, P.B. eds The Geology of Utah Parks and Monuments. Utah Geological Association Special Publication (third edition) 28 p. 269-283.
  • **Bushman, M., Nelson, S.T., Tingey, D.G., and Eggett, D., 2010, Regional groundwater flow in structurally –complex extended terranes: An evaluation of the sources of discharge at Ash Meadows, Nevada: Journal of Hydrology, v. 386, p. 118-129.
  • Nelson, S.T., Harris, R.A., Kowallis, B.J., Dorais, M.J., Heizler, M.A., and Barnett, D., 2009, The long-term burial and exhumation history of basement blocks in the footwall of the Wasatch fault, Utah: Rocky Mountain Geology, v. 44, p. 103-119.
  • Keith, J.D., Tingey, D.G., Hannah, J.L., Nelson, S.T., Moore, D.K., Cannan, T.M., Macbeth, A., and Pulsipher, T., 2009, Geologic map of the Tintic Mountain Quadrangle, Utah: Utah Geological Survey Open File Report 545, scale 1:24,000.
  • **Schlegel, M.E., Mayo, A.L., Nelson, S.T., Tingey, D., Eggett,D., and Henderson, R., 2009, Paleo-climate of the Boise area, Idaho from the last glacial maximum to the present based on groundwater d2H and d18O compositions: Quaternary Research, v. 71, p. 172-180.
  • **Nelson, S.T., Mayo, A.L., Gilfillan, S., Dutson, S.J., Harris, R.A., and Shipton, Z.K., and Tingey, D.G., 2009, Enhanced Fracture Permeability and Accompanying Fluid Flow in the Footwall of a Normal Fault: The Hurricane Fault at Pah Tempe Hot Springs, Washington County, Utah: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 121, p. 236-246.
  • Pitblado, B.L., Dehler, C.M., Neff, H., and Nelson, S.T., 2008, Pilot study experiments in sourcing quartzite, Gunnison Basin, Colorado: Geoarchaeology, v. 23, p. 742–778.
  • Nelson, S.T., Keith, J.D., Constenius, K.N., Olcott, J., Duerichen, E., and Tingey, D.G., 2008, The genesis of fibrous calcite and emerald by amagmatic processes in the southwestern Uinta Mountains, Utah: Rocky Mountain Geology. v. 43, p. 71–91.
  • **Miner, R.E., Nelson, S.T., Tingey, D.G., and Murrell, M.T., 2007, Using fossil spring deposits in the Death Valley region, USA, to evaluate water sources and paleo-flow paths: Journal of Quaternary Science, v. 22, p. 373-386.
  • **Moore, D.K., Keith, J.D. Christiansen, E.H., Kim, C.S.,Tingey, D.G., Nelson, S.T., and Flamm, D.S., 2007, Petrogenesis of the Oligocene east Tintic volcanic field, Utah in G.C. Willis, M.D. Hylland, D.L., Clark and T.C. Chidsey Jr. eds. Central Utah—Diverse Geology of a Dynamic Landscape, Utah Geological Association Publication 36, p. 163-180.
  • Pitblado, B.L., Dehler, C.M., and Nelson, S.T., 2006, Sourcing Quartzites from the Early Holocene Chance Gulch Site, Gunnison Basin, Colorado: A Pilot Study: Current Research in the Pleistocene v. 23, p. 135-137.
  • Hatch, K.A., Crawford, M.A. Kunz, A.W. Thomsen, S.R. Eggett, D.L. Nelson, S.T. and Roeder, B.L., 2006, An objective means of diagnosing anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa using 15N/14N and 13C/12C ratios in hair: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, v. 20, p. 3367-3373.
  • **Anderson, K., Nelson, S.T., Mayo, A.L., and Tingey, D.G., 2006, Interbasin flow revisited: the contribution of local recharge to high-discharge springs, Death Valley, CA: Journal of Hydrology, v. 323, p. 276-302.
  • Nelson, S.T., Anderson, K., Mayo, A.L., 2005, Reply to the comment by Winograd et al. on “Testing the interbasin flow hypothesis at Death Valley, California”: Eos, v. 86, p. 296.
  • Nelson, S.T., Keith, J.D., Constenius, K.N., Olcott, J., Duerichen, E., and Tingey, D.G., 2005, Emerald and fibrous calcite mineralization in the southwestern Uinta Mountains, in Dehler, C.M., Pederson, J.L., Sprinkel, D.A., and Kowallis, B.J., eds Uinta Mountain Geology: Utah Geological Association Publication 33, p. 385-393.
  • **Nelson, S.T., Wood, J., Mayo, A.L., Tingey, D.G., and Eggett, D.L., 2005, Shoreline tufa and tufaglomerate from Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, Utah, USA: Stable isotopic and mineralogical records of lake conditions, processes, and climate: Journal of Quaternary Science, v. 20, p. 3-19.
  • **Nelson, S.T., Anderson, K.W., and Mayo, A.L., 2004, Testing the interbasin flow hypothesis at Death Valley, CA, USA: Eos, v. 85, p. 349, 355-356.
  • **Carreon-Diazconti, C., Nelson, S.T., Mayo, A.L., Tingey, D.G., and Smith, M., 2003, A Mixed Groundwater System at Midway, Utah: Discriminating Superimposed Local and Regional Discharge: Journal of Hydrology, v. 273, p. 119-138.
  • Nelson, S.T., Harris, R.A., Dorais, M.J., Heizler, M., Constenius, K.N., and Barnett, D.E., 2002, Basement complexes in the Wasatch fault, Utah provide new limits on crustal accretion: Geology, v. 30, p. 831-834.
  • Nelson, S.T., and Dettman, D., 2001, Improving hydrogen isotope ratio measurements for on-line Cr reduction systems: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, v. 15, p 2301-2306.
  • Nelson, S.T., and Harris, R.A., 2001 The role of rheology in the tectonic history of the Colorado Plateau: in M.C. Erskine, J.E. Faulds, J.M. Bartley, and P.D. Rowley eds. The Geologic Transition, High-Plateaus to Great Basin—A Symposium and Field Guide, Utah Geological Association Publication 30-Pacific Section American Association of Petroleum Geologists Publication GB-78, p. 189-203.
  • Nelson, S.T., Karlsson, H.R., Paces, J.B., Tingey, D.G., Ward, S., and Peters, M.T., 2001, Paleohydrologic record of spring deposits in and around Pleistocene pluvial Lake Tecopa, southeastern California: Geological Society of America Bulletin. v. 113, p. 659-670.
  • Mayo, A.L., Herron, D., Nelson, S.T., Tingey, D.G., and Tranel, M.J., 2000, Geology and hydrogeology of Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Utah in D.A. Sprinkle, P.B. Anderson and T.C. Chidsey eds The Geology of Utah Parks and Monuments. Utah Geological Association Special Publication 28 p. 141-154.
  • Nelson, S.T., 2000, A simple, practical methodology for routine VSMOW/SLAP normalization of Water Samples Analyzed by Continuous Flow Methods: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, v. 14, p. 1044-1046.
  • Nelson, S.T., 2000, Sample vial influence on the accuracy and precision of carbon and oxygen isotope analysis in continuous flow mass spectrometric applications: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, v. 4, p. 293-297.
  • Nelson, S.T., and Davidson, J. P., Kowallis, B.J., and Heizler, M.T., 1999, Tertiary tectonic history of the southern Andes: the subvolcanic sequence to the Tatara-San Pedro Volcanic Complex, 36°S: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 111, p. 1387-1404
  • Nelson, S.T., and Davidson, J.P., 1998, Magma chemistry and petrogenesis of the Colorado Plateau laccoliths and their relationship to regional magmatism: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2158, p. 85-100.
  • Nelson, S.T., 1998, Re-evaluation of the central Colorado Plateau laccoliths in the light of new age determinations: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2158, p. 37-39.
  • Singer, B.S., Wijbrans, J.R., Nelson, S.T., Pringle, M.S., Feeley, T.C., and Dungan, M.A., 1998, Inherited argon in a Pleistocene andesite lava: 40Ar/39Ar incremental heating and laser fusion analysis of plagioclase: Geology, v. 26, p. 427-430.
  • Nelson, S.T., and Tingey, D.G., 1997, Time-transgressive and extension-related volcanism in southwest Utah and Vicinity: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 109, p. 1249-1265.
  • Singer, B.S., Thompson, R.A., Dungan, M.A., Feeley, T.C., Pickens, J.C., Brown, L.L., Nelson, S.T., Wulff, A.W., Davidson, J.P., and Metzger, J., 1997, 930 thousand years at the Tatara-San Pedro complex, central Chilean Andes: a geochronologic, paleomagnetic, and geochemical record: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 109, p. 127-142.
  • Triay, I., Simmons, A.M., Levy, S., Nuttal, H.E., Robinson, B., Steinkampf, W., and Nelson, S.T., 1995, Colloid facilitated transport at Yucca Mountain: Los Alamos National Laboratory Report LA-12779-MS, 24p.
  • Nelson, S.T., 1994, Is there a hard-money future after graduate school?: EOS, vol. 75, p. 294.
  • Nelson, S.T., and Davidson, J. P., 1993, Interactions between mantle-derived magmas and mafic crust, Henry Mountains, Utah: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 98, p. 1837-1852.
  • Nelson, S.T., Heizler, M.T., and Davidson, J.P., 1992, New 40Ar/39Ar ages of intrusive rocks from the Henry and La Sal Mountains, Utah: Utah Geological Survey Miscellaneous Publication 92-2, 24 p.
  • Nelson, S.T., and Montana, A., 1992, Sieve-textured plagioclase in volcanic rocks produced by rapid decompression: American Mineralogist, v. 77, p. 1242-1249.
  • Nelson, S.T., Sullivan, K.R., and Davidson, J.P., 1992, New age determinations of central Colorado Plateau laccoliths, Utah: Recognizing disturbed K-Ar systematics and re-evaluating tectonomagmatic relationships: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 104, p. 1547-1560.
  • Tatara-San Pedro Project Team, 1992, The life history of an Andean Volcano, EOS, v. 73, p. 406-407.
  • Nelson, S.T., 1989, Geologic map of the Geyser Peak 7 1/2' quadrangle, Sevier and Wayne Counties, Utah: Utah Geological and Mineral Survey Map 114, scale 1:24,000.
  • Perry, J., Nelson, S.T., and Hosomi, S., 1990, Diamond formation in solid metal: Materials Research Bulletin, v. 25, p. 749-756.