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Claudia Mora

Claudia Mora

Phone (505) 665-7832


  • Chemical Science
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Environmental isotopes
  • Mass spectrometers
  • Biomarkers
  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • Geoscience
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry
  • Field studies and process experiments
  • Carbon fluxes
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Nuclear Engineering and Technology
  • Nonproliferation
  • Science of Signatures - Remote and Standoff Sensing
  • X-rays
  • Science of Signatures - In Situ Measurements
  • Ion beam materials characterization


Group Leader, Earth Systems Observations. Scientific leadership, program development and execution; Personnel performance standards and evaluations; Laboratory safety and security; Budget management

Research in stable isotope geochemistry of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen stable isotopes of geological and biological materials;

Isotope proxy records of (paleo-)climate, (paleo-)environment and extreme climate events preserved in terrestrial geological and biological archives, including soil-formed minerals and tree-rings;

Metamorphic Petrology and Mineralogy; Crustal fluid-rock interactions, thermobarometry, thermodynamics of minerals;

Secondary Ionization Mass Spectrometry in geoscience 


1988   Ph.D.  University of Wisconsin-Madison, Geology (Minor: Chemistry)

           NRC-Ford Foundation Minority Dissertation Fellowship; UW Graduate Fellowship 

1983   M.S.  Rice University, Geology      

           Rice Graduate Fellowship; Rice Presidential Award

1980   B.S.  University of New Mexico, Geology (Minor: Math)

           UNM Presidential Scholarship


LANL Positions

2010-pres.     Group Leader, Earth Systems Observations (EES-14)

                       Earth and Environmental Sciences Division

2007-2010      Scientist, EES-14, Earth and Environmental Sciences Division

2002-2007      Head, Dept. Earth and Planetary Sciences, U Tennessee - Knoxville

1989-2008      Carden Professor, Dept. Earth and Planetary Sciences, U Tennesee - Knoxville 

                       Carden Prof (01-08); Assoc Head (00-02); Assoc Prof (95-01); Assist Prof (89-95)

2004-2015      Faculty, U Utah Stable Isotope Ecology Short Course (ISOCAMP)

1998-9,01       DOE Faculty Summer Research Participation Program, ORNL

1988-1989      Visiting Assistant Professor, Dept. Geoscience, U Texas - El Paso



Professional Societies

2015-17     Vice-President/President-Elect, Geological Society of America

2008-12     Councilor (elected) Geological Society of America

2008-13     NRC Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (BESR)

2008-10     NSF Geosciences Advisory Committee (AC-GEO)

2003-08     NAS U.S. National Committee on Soil Science

Member Geological Society of America, American Geophysical Union




1999    UTK College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Award

1998    Fellow, Geological Society of America

1997    UTK Chancellor's Award for Research/Creative Achievement

1995    UTK College of Arts and Sciences Award for Research/Creative Achievement



Refereed Publications (*denotes student author)

Labotka, DM, Grissino-Mayer HG, Mora CI, *Johnson EJ (2016) Patterns of moisture source and climate variability in the southeastern United States: a four century seasonally resolved tree-ring oxygen isotope record. Climate Dynamics 46:2145-2154

*Vetter L., Kozdon R., Valley J.W., Mora C.I., and Spero H.J. (2014) SIMS measurements of intrashell d13C in the cultured planktic foraminifer Orbulina universa. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 139:527-539

*Jensen AE, Lohse KA, Crosby BT, Mora CI (2014) Variations in soil carbon dioxide efflux across a thaw slump chronosequence in northwestern Alaska. Environmental Research Letters, 9:025001, 11p. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/2/025001.

Williams A.P., Seager R., Berkelhammer M., Macalady A.K., Crimmins M.A., Swetnam T.W., Trugman A.T., Buenning N., Hryniw N., McDowell N.G., Noone D., Mora C.I., Rahn T. (2014) Causes and implications of extreme atmospheric moisture demand during the record-breaking 2011 wildfire season in the southwest United States. J Applied Meteorology and Climatology 53(12):2671-2684.

Williams A.P., Seager R., Berkelhammer M., Macalady A.K., Crimmins M.A., Swetnam T.W., Trugman A.T., Buenning N., Hryniw N., McDowell N.G., Noone D., Mora C.I., Rahn T. (2014) Correlations between components of the water balance and burned area reveal new insights for predicting forest-fire area in the southwest United States. International J Wildland Fire doi:10.1071/WF14023

*Vetter L., Kozdon R., Mora C.I., Eggins S.M., Valley J.W., Hönisch B., and Spero H.J. (2013) Micron-scale intrashell oxygen isotope variation in cultured foraminifers. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 107:267-278

English N.B., McDowell N., Allen, C.D., and Mora C.I. (2011) The effects of α-cellulose extraction and blue-stain fungus on retrospective studies of carbon and oxygen isotope variation in live and dead trees. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 25:3083-3090.

*Lewis D., Finkelstein D.B., Grissino-Mayer H.D., Mora C.I., Perfect E. (2011) A multi-tree perspective of the tree ring tropical cyclone record from longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.), Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, U.S.A. J Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences 116(G02017) doi:10.1029/2009JG001194.

*Lane C.S., Horn S.P., Mora C.I., Orvis K.H., and Finkelstein D.B. (2011) Sedimentary stable carbon isotope evidence of late Quaternary vegetation and climate change in highland Costa Rica. J Paleolimnology 45:323-338.

*Taylor Z.P., Horn S.P., Mora C.I., Orvis K.H., and Cooper L.W. (2010) A multiproxy paleo-ecological record of late-Holocene forest expansion in lowland Bolivia. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 293:98-107.

Grissino-Mayer H.D., *Miller D.L., and Mora C.I. (2010) Dendrotempestology and the Isotopic Record of Tropical Cyclones in Tree Rings from the Southeastern United States. In: Stoffel M., Bollschweiler M., Butler D., and Luckman B.H., eds., Tree-Ring Reconstructions in Natural Hazards Research: A State-of-the-Art. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

*Tanner B.R., Uhle M.E., Mora C.I., Kelley J.T., Schuneman P.J., Lane C.S., Allen E.S. (2010) Comparison of Bulk and Compound-Specific δ13C Analyses and Determination of Carbon Sources to Salt Marsh Sediments Using n-Alkane Distributions (Maine, USA). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 86:283-291.

*Lane C.S., Horn S.P., Mora C.I., and Orvis K.H. (2009) Late Holocene paleoenvironmental change in the mid-elevations of the Dominican Republic: A multi-site, multi-proxy analysis. Quaternary Science Review 28:2239-2260.

Mora C.I., Riciputi L.R., Cole D.R., *Walker K.D. (2009) High temperature hydrothermal alteration of the Boehls Butte Anorthosite: Origin of a bimodal plagioclase assemblage. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 157:781-795.

*Lane, C.S., Horn S.P., *Taylor Z.P., and Mora C.I. (2009) Assessing the Scale of Prehistoric Human Impact in the Neotropics using Stable Carbon Isotope Analyses of Lake Sediments. Latin American Antiquity 20:130-133.

*Lane C.S., Mora C.I., Horn S.P., and Orvis K.H. (2008) Sensitivity of bulk sedimentary stable carbon isotopes to Prehistoric forest clearance and maize agriculture J Archeological Sciences 35:2119-2132.

*Lane, C.S., Horn S.P., Orvis K.H., and Mora C.I. (2008) The Earliest Botanical Evidence of Ostionoid Maize Agriculture from the Interior of Hispaniola. Caribbean J Science 44(1):43-52.

Kovda I., Mora C.I., and Wilding L.P. (2008) PaleoVertisols of the Northwestern Caucasus: (Micro)morphological, physical, chemical and isotopic constraints on early to late Pleistocene climate J Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 171:1-11.

*Tanner B.R., Uhle M.E., Kelley J.T., and Mora C.I. (2007) C3/C4 variations in salt marsh sediments: An application of compound specific isotopic analysis of lipid biomarkers to late Holocene paleoenvironmental research. Organic Geochemistry 38:474-484.

*Miller D.M., Mora C.I., and Driese S.G. (2007) Isotopically concentric growth in large carbonate nodules in Vertisols: Implications for climate and ecosystem assessments Geoderma 142:104-111.

Mora C.I., *Miller D.M., and Grissino-Mayer H.D. (2007) Oxygen isotope proxies in tree ring cellulose: tropical cyclones, drought and climate oscillations. in Dawson, T.E. and Siegwolf, R.T.W. (eds.) Stable Isotopes as Indicators of Ecological Change p. 63-76. Terrestrial Ecology Series, Elsevier.

*Miller D.M., Mora C.I., Grissino-Mayer H., Uhle M.E., and Sharp Z. (2006) Tree ring isotope records of tropical cyclone activity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103:14294-14297.

Mora C.I., *Miller D.M., and Grissino-Mayer H.D. (2006) Tempest in a tree ring: Paleotempestology and the record of past hurricanes. Sedimentary Record 4(3):4-8.

Kovda I., Mora C.I., and Wilding L.P. (2006) Stable isotopic composition of pedogenic carbonates and soil organic matter in a temperate climate Vertisol with gilgai, southeastern Russia. Geoderma 136:423-435.

Driese S.G., Nordt L.C., Lynn W.C., *Stiles C.A., Mora C.I., and Wilding L.P. (2005) Distinguishing climate in the soil record using chemical trends in a Vertisol climosequence from the Texas Coast Prairie, and application to interpreting Paleozoic paleosols in the Appalachian Basin, U.S.A. J Sedimentary Research 75:339-349.

Li Z., Leavitt S.W., Mora C.I., and Liu R. (2005) Influence of earlywood-latewood size and isotope differences on long-term tree-ring δ13C trends. Chemical Geology 216:191-201.

Kovda I., Chichagova O., Mora C.I. (2005) Organic matter in a gilgai soil complex, southeastern Russia: Chemical and isotopic compositions. Advances in Geoecology 36:45-56.

De Wet C., *Frey H.M., *Gaswirth S.B., Mora C., and Rahnis M. (2004) Origin of meter-scale submarine cavities, herringbone calcite and radiaxial fibrous cement infills within a microbial reef Cambrian Ledger Formation, York, Pennsylvania. J Sedimentary Research 74:914-923.

*Lane C.S., Horn S.P. and Mora, C.I. (2004) Stable carbon isotope ratios in lake and swamp sediments as a proxy for prehistoric forest clearance and crop cultivation in the Neotropics. J Paleolimnology 32:375-381.

Cole D.R., Larson P.B., Riciputi L.R., and Mora C.I. (2004) Oxygen isotope zoning profiles in hydro-thermally altered feldspars: Estimating the duration of water-rock interaction. Geology 32:29-32.

*Stiles C.A., Mora C.I., and Driese S.G. (2003) Pedogenic processes and domain boundaries in a Vertisol climosequence: Evidence from titanium and zirconium distribution and morphology. Geoderma 116:279-299.      

*Stiles C.A., Mora C.I., Driese S.G., and *Robinson A.C. (2003) Distinguishing climate and time in the soil record: Mass balance trends in Vertisols from the Texas Coastal Prairie. Geology 31:331-334.

Delcourt P.A., *Nester P.L., Delcourt H.R., Mora C.I., and Orvis K.H. (2002) Holocene lake effect precipitation in northern Michigan, U.S.A. Quaternary Research 57:225-233.

Driese S.G., and Mora C.I. (2002) Paleopedology and stable isotope geochemistry of Late Triassic (Carnian) paleosols, Deep River Basin, North Carolina: Implications for paleoclimate and paleoatmospheric pCO2.  in Renaut, R.W. and Ashley, G.M. (Eds.), Sedimentation in Continental Rifts: SEPM Special Publication 73:207-218.

De Wet, C., Mora C., Gore P., and Gierlowski-Kordesch E. (2002) Variation in Lacustrine and Spring Carbonate Deposition: Mesozoic Rift Basins, Eastern North America. in Renaut, R.W. and Ashley, G.M. (Eds.), Sedimentation in Continental Rifts: SEPM Special Publication 73:309-325.

*Chen Z., Riciputi L.R., Mora C.I., Fishman N.S. (2001) Regional fluid migration in the Illinois Basin: Evidence from in situ oxygen isotope analysis of authigenic K-feldspar and quartz from the Mt. Simon Sandstone. Geology 29:1067-1070.

*Stiles C.A., Mora C.I., and Driese S.G. (2001) Pedogenic iron-manganese nodules in Vertisols: a new proxy for paleoprecipitation? Geology 29:943-946.

Driese S.G., and Mora C.I.  (2001) Diversification of Siluro-Devonian plant traces in paleosols and influence on estimates of paleoatmospheric CO2 levels, In Gensel, P.G., and Edwards, D. (eds.), Plants Invade the Land: Evolutionary and Environmental Perspectives. Columbia University Press, New York, p. 237-253

Driese S.G., Mora C.I., *Stiles C.A., Joeckel R.M., and Nordt L.C. (2000) Mass balance reconstruction of  a modern Vertisol: Implications for interpretations of geochemistry and burial alteration of PaleoVertisols. Geoderma 95:179-204.

Mora C.I., Riciputi, L.R., and Cole D.R., (1999) Short-lived oxygen diffusion during hot, deep-seated meteoric alteration of anorthosite. Science 286:2323-2325.

Mora C.I., and Driese S.G. (1999) Paleoenvironment, paleoclimate and stable carbon isotopes of Palaeozoic Red Bed Paleosols, Appalachian Basin, U.S.A. and Canada. in M. Thiry and R. Simon-Coinçon (Eds.) Palaeoweathering, Palaeosurfaces, and Related Continental Deposits. International Association of Sedimentologists Special Publication 27:61-84.

Mora C.I., *Sheldon B.T., Elliott W.C., and Driese S.G. (1998) An oxygen isotope study of illite and calcite in three Appalachian Paleozoic vertic paleosols. J Sedimentary Research 28:456-464.

*Elick J.M., Driese S.G., and Mora C.I. (1998) Very large plant and root traces from the Early to Middle Devonian: Implications for early terrestrial ecosystems and atmospheric p(CO2). Geology  26:143-146.

DeWet C.B., *Yocum D.A., and Mora C.I. (1998) Carbonate lakes in closed basins: sensitive indicators of climate and tectonics; An example from the Gettysburg Basin (Triassic), Pennsylvania, USA. in Shanley, K. and McCabe, P. (Eds.)  Relative Role of Eustasy, Climate, and Tectonism in Continental Rocks.  SEPM Special Publication 59:191-209.

Driese S.G., Mora C.I., and *Elick J.M. (1997) Morphology and taphonomy of root traces and stump casts of the earliest trees (Middle to Late Devonian), Pennsylvania an New York, U.S.A. Palaios 12:524-537.

*Caudill M.R., Driese S.G., and Mora C.I. (1997) Physical compaction of vertic paleosols: implications for burial diagenesis and paleo-precipitation estimates.  Sedimentology 44:673-685.

Mora C.I., Driese S.G., and *Colarusso L (1996) Middle to late Paleozoic atmospheric CO2 levels from soil carbonate and organic matter. Science 271:1105-1107.

*Caudill M.R., Driese S.G., and Mora C.I. (1996) Preservation of a full-profile paleo-vertisol and an estimate of Late Mississippian paleo-precipitation. Journal of Sedimentary Research 66:58-70.

*Tobin K.J., Walke, K.R., *Steinhauff D.M., and Mora C.I. (1996) Fibrous calcite from the Ordovician of Tennessee: Preservation of marine oxygen isotopic composition and its implications. Sedimentology 43:235-251.

Driese S.G., *Srinivasan K., Mora C.I., and Stapor F.W. (1995) Reply to Discussion of William A. Thomas and Greg H. Mack on "Paleoweathering of Mississippian Monteagle Limestone...-." Bulletin of the Geological Society of America 107:998-1001

Driese S.G., *Srinivasan K., Mora C.I., and Stapor F.W. (1994) Paleoweathering of Mississippian Monteagle Limestone preceding development of a Lower Chesterian transgressive systems tract and sequence boundary, middle Tennessee and northern Alabama.  Bulletin of the Geological Society of America 106:866-878.

Driese S.G., and Mora C.I. (1993) Physico-chemical environment of pedogenic carbonate formation in Devonian vertic paleosols, central Appalachians, U.S.A.  Sedimentology 40:199-216.

Mora C.I., and Driese S.G. (1993)  A steep, Mid- to Late-Paleozoic decline in atmospheric CO2: evidence from the soil carbonate CO2  paleobarometer.  Chemical Geology 107:217-220.

Mora C.I., and Ramseyer K. (1992) Cathodoluminescence of coexisting plagioclases, Boehls Butte anorthosite: CL activators and identification of fluid flow paths.  American Mineralogist 77:1258-1265.

Driese S.G., Mora C.I., Cotter E., *Foreman J.L. (1992) Paleopedology and stable isotope chemistry of Late Silurian vertic paleosols, Bloomsburg Formation, central Pennsylvania.  J Sedimentary Petrology 62:825-841

Eskew D.L., Gresshoff P.M., Doty M., and Mora C. (1992) 15N natural abundance measurement of N2 fixation by supernodulating nts soybean mutants using sealed tube combustion.  Canadian J Microbiology 38:598-603.

Mora C.I., and Valley J.W. (1991) Prograde and retrograde fluid-rock interaction in calc-silicates northwest of the Idaho batholith: stable isotope evidence.  Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 108:162-174.

Mora C.I., Driese, S.G., and *Seager, P.G. (1991) Carbon dioxide in the Paleozoic atmosphere: evidence from C-isotopic compositions of pedogenic carbonate. Geology 19:1017-1020.

Mora C.I., and Valley J.W. (1989)  Halogen-rich scapolite and biotite: Implications for metamorphic fluid-rock interaction.  American Mineralogist 74:721-737.

*MacKinney J.A., Mora C.I., Bailey S.W. (1988) Structure and crystal chemistry of clintonite.  American Mineralogist 73:365-375.

*Mora C.I., and Valley J.W., and Ortega-Gutierrez F.  (1986)  The temperature/pressure conditions of Grenville-age granulite-facies metamorphism of the Oaxacan Complex. Universidad Nacional  Autonoma de Mexico Instituto de Geologia Revista 6:222-242.

*Mora C.I., and Valley J.W. (1985) Ternary feldspar thermometry in granulites from the Oaxacan Complex, Mexico.  Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 89:215-225.