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Julianna Eileen Fessenden-Rahn

Julianna Fessenden-Rahn

Phone (505) 667-5468


  • Chemical Science
  • Radiochemistry
  • Actinide chemistry
  • Environmental isotopes
  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • Plant ecology
  • Atmospheric chemistry
  • Oceanography
  • Carbon fluxes
  • Science of Signatures - Remote and Standoff Sensing
  • Ground-based sensing and sensors


  • Paleoclimate:  Light Stable Isotope markers used to research past climate in ocean and lacustrine sediments (Valles Caldera, NM; Santa Barbara Basin, CA)
  • Nuclear Forensics:  Strategic development of pre-det, post-det, and prompt nuclear forensic signatures for DHS-DNDO, DoD-DTRA, NA22, NA40, NA10 sponsors (material and chemical expertise).
  • Carbon Sequestration MVA: Optimizing monitoring systems (geochemical, geophysical) for carbon sequestration science. Expertise in laser-deployed trace gas analysis for leak detection and safety.


Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD), Ph.D. in Earth Science, 1999

University of California, San Diego, B.A in Environmental Chemistry, 1993

University of California, San Diego, B.S in Biochemistry/Cell Biology, 1992


LANL Positions

  • Deputy Group Leader,  EES-16: Computational Earth Sciences Group (2014 to present)
  • Nuclear Forensics POC, Strategic Outcome Office (2013 to present)
  • Deputy Group Leader,  DSA-3: Systems Analysis and Surveillance Group (2013 to 2014)
  • Group Leader,  D-3: Systems Engineering & Integration Group (2011 to 2013)
  • Program Manager 4, Combating Weapons of Mass Effect - DHS sponsors (2010 - 2011)
  • Project Leader 3, EES-14: Earth System Operations Group (2009-2010)
  • Scientist 3, EES-14: Earth System Operations Group (2008-2009)
  • Technical Staff Member, EES-6: Geochemistry, Geology, Hydrology Group (2004-2008):
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, EES-6: Geochemistry, Geology, Hydrology Group (2002-2004)

Professional Societies

American Geophysical Union (1994 to present)

Sigma Xi Member (1997 to present)



LANL Star Award (2009): recognized for work in nuclear forensics and MMV development research, leadership, EES workforce development, and outreach.



Clegg and Fessenden, Apparatus and method for monitoring of gas having stable isotopes, March 5, 2013, US patent # 8,390,813.



Most relevant (out of 40 publications):

Keating, Hakala, Viswanathan, Carey, Pawar, Guthrie, Fessenden 2013, CO2 leakage impacts on shallow groundwater: field-scale reactive-transport simulations informed by observations at a natural analog site, App. Geochem., 30, 136-148.  

Fessenden, J., 2012, Carbon Sequestration and natural analogs, Geology, 40, 575-576.

Fawcett, Werne, Anderson, Heikoop, Brown, Berke, Smith, Goff, Donohoo-Hurley, Cisneros-Dozal, Schouten, Sinninghe, Huang, Toney, Fessenden et al., Extended Megadroughts in the Southwestern United States during Pleistocene Interglacials, 2011, Nature, 470, 518-521.

Fessenden, J.E., Clegg S.M., Rahn TA, Humphries SD, Baldridge S, 2010, Novel MVA Tools to track CO2 seepage: tested at the Bozeman CO2 Release facility, Environ. Earth Sci., 60, 325-334.

Fessenden J., Guilkerson K, Dobeck L, Rauch H., Spangler, L, 2010, Isotope tracing of CO2 seepage: Results from a controlled release experiment in Bozeman, MT, Geochim. et Cosmochim. Acta., 74, A290-A290.

Fessenden, J.E., Stauffer, P.H., Viswanathan, H.S, 2009, Natural Analogs of Geologic CO2 Sequestration, in Carbon Sequestration and Its Role in the Global Carbon Cycle, eds. McPherson and Sundquist, Geophysical Monograph., 183, 135-146.

Cisneros-Dozal, Heikoop, Fessenden, Hess, Anderson, Allen, Meyers, Larson, Perkins, Rearick, 2010 , A 15,000-yr record of climate change in northern New Mexico, USA, inferred from isotopic and elemental contents of bog sediments, J. Quatern. Sci., 25, 1001-1007.

Angert, A; Barkan, E; Barnett, B; Brugnoli, E; Davidson, EA; Fessenden, J; Maneepong, S; Panapitukkul, N; Randerson, JT; Savage, K; et. al., 2003, Contribution of soil respiration in tropical, temperate, and boreal forests to the O-18 enrichment of atmospheric O-2, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 17, 1089.

Fessenden, J.E., Ehleringer, J.R. 2003, Temporal variation in d13C of ecosystem respiration in the Pacific Northwest:  links to moisture stress, Oecologia, 136:129-136.

Rahn, T., Eiler, J., Kitchens, N., Fessenden, J., Randerson, J., 2002, Observations of concentration and dD of atmospheric H2 in an Alaskan boreal forest, Geol. Res. Lett., 29: 1888-1890, 2002GL015118.

Fessenden, J.E., Ehleringer J.R. 2001, Age-related variations in d13C of ecosystem respiration across a coniferous forest chronosequence in the Pacific Northwest, Tree Physiology, 22: 159-167.

Biondi, F, Fessenden, J.E., 1999, Response of lodgepole pine growth to CO2 degassing at Mammoth Mountain, California, Ecology, 80, 2420-2426.

Rahn, T.A., Fessenden, J.E., Wahlen, M., 1996, Flux Chamber Measurements of Anomalous CO2 Emission from the Flanks of Mammoth Mountain, California, Geophysical Research Letters, 23, 1861-1864