Nathan D. Stansell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Research Interests

My research interests apply a wide range of methods to better understand past climatic changes on a range of timescales. Some of the highlights include:

  • Stable isotope geochemistry and paleolimnology in western North America, Central America and South America
  • Proglacial lake sediment stratigraphy in the tropical Andes
  • Cosmogenic radionuclide dating in the tropical Andes
  • Glacier mass-balance modeling
  • High latitude climate and carbon dynamics

I currently maintain an associate researcher position in the Long-term Ecology Lab at University of Oxford.

Currently Funded Projects

Collaborative Research: Transient Forcing of the Local Last Glacial Maximum in the Tropical Peruvian Andes. NSF, P2C2 Program. Lead PI. EAR-2002541. Project start date June 15, 2020.

IRES: US-Estonia research partnership in reconstructing past climate dynamics. NSF, IRES Program. Lead PI. OISE-1827135. Awarded in 2018. Project start date June 1, 2019.

Collaborative Research: Estonia-US student training partnership. Erasmus+ worldwide 2018, Estonian National Agency. Awarded in 2018. Project start date, July 1, 2018.

Collaborative Research: Quantitative Reconstructions of Holocene Precipitation Changes Across Central America NSF, P2C2 Program. Lead PI. EAR-1502989. Currently on no-cost extension until June, 2020.


  • Geological Field Techniques: GEOL 478
  • Stratigraphy: GEOL 405/505
  • Geomorphology: GEOL 442/542
  • Introductory Geology: GEOL 120
  • Paleolimnology: GEOL 746B at NIU
  • Paleoclimatology Seminar: GEOL 746A (NIU)
  • Environmental Geology: GEOL 105 (NIU)
  • Paleoclimatology, Paleogeography, Paleoecology: GEOL 322
  • Climate Change: Causes and Consequence
  • Climatology
  • Geology of the National Parks

Paleoclimatology, Glacial Geology, Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Paleolimnology, Quaternary Stratigraphy, Radiometric Dating Methods

Davis Hall 402 

Paleoclimatology Lab

Stable Isotope Lab


Postdoctoral Researcher, Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, The Ohio State University

Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh

M.S. University of Pittsburgh

B.S., Geology, University of Idaho

B.S., Anthropology, University of Idaho

Selected Publications

* denotes student papers

Stansell, N.D., Steinman, B.A., Lachniet, M.L., Feller, J.R., Harvey, W., Fernandez, A., Shea, C.J., Price, B., Boes, M., Perdziola, S. (2020). Lake sediment stable isotope record of middle-to-late Holocene hydroclimate variability in the western Guatemala highlands. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 542: 116327. Data available through NOAA-NCDC.

*Harvey, W.J., Nogué, S., Stansell, N.D., Adolf, C., Long, P., Willis, K. (in review). A Palynological Perspective on the Impacts of European Contact: Historic Deforestation, Ranching and Agriculture Surrounding the Cuchumatanes Highlands, Guatemala. Submitted to Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (submitted Nov, 2019).

Palacios, D., Stokes, C.R., Phillips, F.M., Clague, J.J., Alcalá, J., Andres, N., Angel, I., Blard, P.H., Briner, J., Hall, B.L., Dahms, D., Hein, A.S., Jomelli, V., Mark, B., Martini, M.A., Moreno, P., Riedel, J., Sagredo, E.A., Stansell, N.D., Vazquez-Selem, L., Vuille, M., Ward, D. (2020). The Deglaciation of the Americas during the Last Glacial Termination. Earth Science Reviews 203: 103113.

Schnieder, L., Cooke, C.A., Stansell, N.D., Haberle, S. (2020). Effects of climate variability on mercury deposition in sediments of the Venezuelan Andes. Journal of Paleolimnology 63: 211-224.

*Harvey, W.J., Stansell, N.D., Nogué, S., Willis, K.J. (2019). The Apparent Resilience of the Dry Tropical Forests of the Nicaraguan Region of the Central American Dry Corridor to Variations in Climate Over the Last C.1200 Years. Quaternary 2:25.

*Harvey, W.J., Nogué, S., Stansell, N.D., Petrokofsky, G., Steinman, B.S., Willis, K.J. (2019). The legacy of Pre-Columbian fire on the Pine-Oak forests of upland Guatemala. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 2:34.

Steinman, B.A., Nelson, D.B., Abbott, M.B., Stansell, N.D., Finkenbinder, M.S., Finney, B. (2019). Lake sediment records of Holocene hydroclimate and impacts of the Mount Mazama eruption, north-central Washington, USA. Quaternary Science Reviews 204: 17-36.

Kingslake, J., Scherer, R., Albrecht, T., Coenen, J., Powell, R., Reese, R., Stansell, N., Tulaczyk, S., Whitehouse, P. (2018). Extensive Holocene grounding line retreat and uplift-driven readvance in West Antarctica. Nature 558: 430-434

Finkenbinder, M.S., Abbott, M.B., Stoner, J.S., Ortiz, J.D., Finney, B.P., Dorfman, J.M., Stansell, N.D. (2018). Millennial-scale variability in Holocene climate from Burial Lake, Arctic Alaska. Quaternary Science Reviews 187: 220-234

Stansell, N.D., Klein, E.S., Fortney, C., Dodd, J., Finkenbinder, M.S., Terasmaa, J., Nelson, D.B. (2017). A stable isotope records of Holocene precipitation dynamics from Lake Nuudsaku, Estonia. Quaternary Science Reviews 175(C) 73-84. Data available through NOAA-NCDC.

Stansell, N.D., Licciardi, J.M., Rodbell, D.T., Mark, B.G. (2017). Late Glacial and Holocene glacier fluctuations in the Cordillera Blanca, Peruvian Andes. Geophysical Research Letters 44:9: 4176-4185. DOI:10.1002/2016GL072408. Data available through NOAA-NCDC.

Mark, B.G., Stansell, N.D., Zeballos, G. (2017). The last deglaciation of Peru and Bolivia. Special Volume: Last Deglaciation of America. Cuadernos de Investigación Geográfica (D. Palacios, editor).

Steinman, B.A., Pompeani, D., Abbott, M.B., Ortiz, J., Stansell, N.D., Mihindukalasooriya, L., Hillman, A., Finkenbinder, M. (2016). Model based paleoclimate interpretations of Holocene oxygen isotope records from the Pacific Northwest. Quaternary Science Reviews 142: 40-60. DOI:10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.04.012

Stansell, N.D., Rodbell, D.T., Licciardi, J.M., Sedlak, C.M., Schweinsberg, A.D., Huss, E.G., Finkel, R.C., Zimmerman, S.R. (2015). Late Glacial and Holocene glacier fluctuations at Nevado Huaguruncho in the Eastern Cordillera of the Peruvian Andes. Geology 43:8: 747-750. DOI:10.1130/G36735.1. Data available through NOAA-NCDC.

Steinman, B.A., Abbott, M.B., Mann, M.E., Ortiz, J., Feng, S., Pompeani, D., Stansell, N.D., Anderson, L.A., Finney, B.P., Bird, B.W.. (2014). Ocean-atmosphere forcing of centennial hydroclimate variability in the Pacific Northwest. Geophysical Research Letters 41: 7: 2553-2560. DOI: 10.1002/2014GL059499

Stansell, N.D., Polissar, P.J., Abbott, M.B., Bezada, M., Steinman, B.A., Braun, C. (2014). Proglacial lake sediment records reveal Holocene climate changes in the Venezuelan Andes. Quaternary Science Reviews 89: 44-55. Data available through NOAA-NCDC.

Stansell, N.D., Rodbell, D.T., Abbott, M.B., Mark, B.G. (2013). Proglacial lake sediment records of Holocene climate change in the western Cordillera of Peru (Invited Review). Quaternary Science Reviews 13: 1-14. Data available through NOAA-NCDC.

Stansell, N.D., Steinman, B.A., Abbott, M.B., Rubinov, M., Roman-Lacayo, M. (2013). Lacustrine stable isotope record of climate change in Nicaragua during the Little Ice Age and Medieval Climate Anomaly. Geology 41: 151-154. Data available through NOAA-NCDC.

Stansell, N.D. (2013). Radiocarbon ages for the timing of debris avalanches at Mombacho Volcano, Nicaragua. Bulletin of Volcanology 75: 1: 1-4

Klein, E.S., Booth, R.K.,Yu, Z, Mark, B.G., Stansell, N.D. (2013). Surficial geology influences the response of peatland carbon accumulation to climate variability: a comparative study of two peatlands in a glaciated valley in Southcentral Alaska. Quaternary Science Reviews 64: 61-75.

Steinman, B.A., Abbott, M.B., Stansell, N.D., Nelson, D.B., Finney, B.P., Rosenmeier, M.F. (2013). Isotopic and hydrologic responses of small closed basin lakes to climate variability: Comparison of measured and modeled lake level and sediment core oxygen isotope records. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 105: 455-471

Steinman, B.A., Abbott, M.B., Mann, M.E., Stansell, N.D., Finney, B.P. (2012) 1500-year quantitative reconstruction of precipitation from the Pacific Northwest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1201083109.

Bird, B.W., Abbott, M.B., Vuille, M., Rodbell, D.T., Stansell, N.D., Rosenmeier, M.F. (2011). A 2,300-year-long annually resolved record of the South American summer monsoon from the Peruvian Andes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1003719108

Nelson, D.B., Abbott, M.B., Steinman, B.A., Polissar, P.J., Stansell, N.D., Ortiz, J. D., Rosenmeier, M.F., Finney, B., Riedel, J. (2011). A 6,000-yr Lake Record of Drought from the Pacific Northwest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1009194108.

Montoya, E., Rull, V., Stansell, N.D., Bird, B., Nogue, S., Vegas-Vilarrubia, T., Abbott, M., Diaz, W. (2011). Vegetation changes in the Neotropical Gran Sabana (Venezuela) around the Younger Dryas Chron. Journal of Quaternary Science 26: 207-218.

Montoya, E., Rull, V., Stansell, N.D., Abbott, M.B., Nogue, S., Bird, B.W., Diaz, W.A.. (2011). Forest-savanna-morichal dynamics in relation to fire and human occupation during the last millennia. Quaternary Research 76: 335-344.

Stansell, N.D., Abbott, M.B., Rull, V., Rodbell, D., Bezada, M., Montoya, E. (2010). Abrupt Younger Dryas Cooling in the Northern Tropics Recorded in Lake Sediments from the Venezuelan Andes. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 293: 154-162. Data available through NOAA-NCDC.

Rull, V., Stansell, N.D., Montoya, E., Bezada, M., Abbott, M.B. (2010). Palynological Signal of the Younger Dryas in the tropical Venezuelan Andes. Quaternary Science Reviews 29: 3045-3056
Stansell, N.D., Polissar, P.J., and Abbott, M.B. (2007a). Last Glacial Maximum Equilibrium-Line Altitude and Paleo-Temperature Reconstructions for the Cordillera de Mérida, Venezuelan Andes. Quaternary Research 67: 115-127.

Stansell, N.D., Abbott, M. B., Polissar, P. J., Wolfe, A. P., Bezada, M., Rull, V. (2007b). Reply: Late Quaternary Deglacial History of the Mérida Andes, Venezuela: response to comment. Journal of Quaternary Science, 22(8) 823-825. DOI: 10.1002/jqs.1109.

Stansell, N.D., Abbott, M. B., Polissar, P. J., Wolfe, A. P., Bezada, M., Rull, V. (2005). Late Quaternary Deglacial History of the Mérida Andes, Venezuela. Journal of Quaternary Science, Special Issue: Paleoclimate records from the Americas, in Memory of Geoffrey Owen Seltzer. 40(7-8), 801-812.

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Geology and Environmental Geosciences
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