(781) 283-3030
B.S., Yale University; Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
On sabbatical leave, 2012-13
272 Science Center

James R. Besancon
Associate Professor of Geosciences

Continuing study of physical model and salt content of campus water, ICP-OES analysis of water; X-ray diffraction of complex mixtures.

I and my research and class students are modeling the groundwater flow in the campus watershed, involving several streams, two lakes, a formerly contaminated pond, and complex surficial deposits, in an effort to understand and quantify the increasing salt content from road deicing. We continue to measure the properties of the aquifer utilizing campus observation wells while sampling water for chemical analysis throughout the watershed. In addition, I study powder x-ray diffraction for semiquantitative analysis of complex mixtures, both soils and rocks. Areas of recent research include the Blue Hills south of Boston, sediments from lead-contaminated areas of Oklahoma and elsewhere (with Dan Brabander's group), and dust deposits in Kuwait and Iraq.

My teaching has become focused on environmental topics, including groundwater hydrogeology. A continuing interest in volcanism in the Blue Hills initiated a seminar class on physical volcanism, with a field laboratory component in Hawaii and California in January. I continue to enjoy teaching introductory geoscience on a regular basis.

Other interests include: photography of geologic features for teaching purposes; travel, especially to Europe, Canada, or western United States; reading, cooking, ski touring, and driving almost anywhere (I know, too much carbon dioxide!).