Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

Earth Sciences Division Staff: Carl Steefel

Carl Steefel

Carl Steefel

Senior Scientist

Geochemistry Department



Phone: 510-486-7311

Fax: 510-486-5686


Biographical Summary

Carl Steefel has over 21 years of experience in developing models for multicomponent reactive transport in porous media and applying them to topics in reactive contaminant transport and water-rock interaction.  The reactive transport software CrunchFlow, for which he is the principal developer, is the culmination of this work.  He investigated geochemical self-organization and complexity theory in water-rock interaction (Steefel and Lasaga, 1990), while also developing the first routine for multicomponent nucleation and crystal size distributions in the Earth Sciences (Steefel and Van Cappellen, 1990).  Soon after, he presented  the first multicomponent, multi-dimensional  code for simulating water-rock interaction in non-isothermal environments (Steefel and Lasaga, 1994).  Steefel applies reactive transport modeling to such diverse settings as hydrothermal, contaminant, chemical weathering, and marine environments.  Recently, he has been involved in experimental studies of cation exchange (Steefel et al., 2003) and mineral dissolution and precipitation (Yang and Steefel, 2008), as well as modeling studies of field systems  focused on contaminant transport, microbially-mediated biogeochemical reactions, and chemical weathering (Giambalvo et al., 2002; Steefel, 2004; Maher et al., 2009; Li et al., 2009; Steefel and Maher, 2009).

Research Interests

Carl Steefel’s research focuses on the topic of water-rock interaction investigated from several angles:

  • Multicomponent reactive transport modeling of complex earth and environmental systems.  In earth-related systems, he has used reactive transport modeling to simulate low temperature chemical weathering (Maher et al., 2005; Maher et al, 2009; Steefel and Maher, 2009), marine diagenesis (Giambalvo et al, 2002), hydrothermal environments (Steefel and Lasaga, 1994), and the scale dependence of reaction rates (Li et al., 2006).  He has applied reactive transport modeling to the understanding and prediction of contaminated systems (Steefel et al, 2003; Li et al., 2009).
  • Kinetics of mineral dissolution and precipitation.  Our approach has been to combine both theoretical (Steefel and Van Cappellen, 1990; Maher et al., 2005; Maher et al, 2009) and experimental studies (Yang and Steefel, 2008) to elucidate mineral reaction kinetics in natural settings.


  • Ph.D. Geochemistry, 1992, Yale University, New Haven, CT. 
  • M.S.  Geology, 1982, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.
  • B.A.  English Literature, 1974, Washington University, St. Louis, MO.

Professional Experience

  • 2003-           Staff Scientist, Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • 1998-2003:  Staff Scientist, Environmental Science Division, Livermore National Laboratory
  • 1995-1998:  Assistant Professor of Geology, University of South Florida
  • 1995:           Senior Research Scientist, Pacific Northwest Laboratories
  • 1993-1995:  Research Scientist, Interfacial Geochemistry Group, Pacific Northwest Laboratories
  • 1991-1992:  Post-doctoral Associate, Mineralogisch-Petrographisches Institut, Universitat Bern
  • 1985-1991:  Teaching and research fellowships, Yale University Department of Geology
  • 1979-1985:  Geologist, Anaconda Minerals


  • 2007 - Award for outstanding contributions to basic research in the geosciences, Geosciences Research Program, Department of Energy, May 2007.
  • 1990 - Philip M. Orville Prize for outstanding research and scholarship, Yale University
  • 1990 - Best Student Contribution, 2nd International Symposium on the Geochemistry of the Earth’s Surface and of Mineral Formation, Aix-en-Provence, France
  • 1989 - Outstanding Mention, GSA Research Proposal
  • 1974 - Phi Beta Kappa, Washington University