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Benjamin Johnson

Benjamin William Johnson

  • Assistant Professor
  • Geological and Atmospheric Sciences
I am a geologist and geochemist with broad interests that span Earth History, Earth System Science, and Astrobiology. I use a variety of rock archives, including chemical sediments, glacial tills, and igneous rocks as records of the interactions between life, the oceans, the atmosphere, and the solid Earth over deep time. I access these archives through field work, analytical and isotope geochemistry, and numerical modeling to investigate deep time questions about Earth history.

Contact Info

2237 Osborn Dr
Social Media and Websites


  • B.S., Geology, University of Puget Sound, 2006
  • M.S., Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, 2009
  • PhD, Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, 2017

More Information

Area of Expertise: Isotope geochemistry, Geology, and Earth system science


I am working on projects in a few main areas at the moment:

1. Glacial periods throughout Earth history: this includes comparison to modern glacial environment nutrient cycling, dating the timing and duration of ancient glaciations, and studying how organisms survive glacial conditions

2. Earth system nitrogen cycling: including how the atmosphere has changed through time, where nitrogen is stored over long time periods, and the effects that land plants have on this cycle

3. Oxygen isotopes and paleo hydrology: projects are both marine and terrestrial, spanning deep time and recent uplift/climate change in the Western US as well as other mountain belts

Broader Impact

I am a strong believer in inclusive and accessible science. One of my main goals it to make field work more accessible to a broader community. I would like to build a library of field gear available to students for classes and thesis projects. I was lucky to grow up camping and hiking outdoors, and recognize not everyone was able to do this growing up. I hope to support an inclusive research group and Environmental Sciences program through engaging students in the field.

Key Environmental Science Publications

Johnson, Benjamin W. and Wing, Boswell. accepted. Altered ocean crust reveals an 18O-enriched early Archean ocean. Nature Geoscience.

Johnson, Benjamin W. and Goldblatt, Colin. 2018. EarthN: A new Earth System Nitrogen Model. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. 1-27.

Johnson, Benjamin W., Poulton, Simon F., and Goldblatt, Colin. 2017. Marine oxygen production and open water supported an active nitrogen cycle during the Marinoan Snowball Earth. Nature Communications. 8:1316

Johnson, Benjamin W., *Drage, Natashia, Spence, Jody, Hanson, Nova, El-Sabaawi, Rana, and Goldblatt, Colin. 2017. Measurement of geologic N using mass spectrometry, colourimetry, and a newly adapted fluorometry technique. Solid Earth, 8(2):307– 318.

Johnson, Benjamin W. and Goldblatt, Colin. 2015. The Nitrogen Budget of Earth. Earth Science Reviews, 148, 150-173