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

Earth Sciences Division Staff: James A. Davis

James Davis Portrait

James A. Davis

Senior Scientist

Geochemistry Department



Phone: 510-495-2692510-495-2692 

Fax: 510-486-5686


Biographical Summary

James A. Davis has performed extensive experimental research on geochemical processes occurring at mineral surfaces and their effects on water and sediment phase compositions in aquifers. The research has examined geochemical processes at multiple scales, from molecular-scale spectroscopic studies to large field-scale investigations. Current research is focused on the use of electron microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, and x-ray absorption spectroscopy to characterize the surfaces of natural materials. Dr. Davis’s research experience includes 1) field investigations of radionuclide and metal contaminant transport at various physical scales and in differing geochemical regimes, including studies of how the transport of uranium(VI), arsenic(V) and arsenic(III) are affected by adsorption, redox reactions, and competitive sorption processes, 2) reactive transport modeling under conditions that apply to various environmental settings, including transport coupled with surface complexation and redox reactions, and 3) laboratory studies of sorption and transport of inorganic ions and description of the results with geochemical models that include surface complexation. An approach to modeling the influence of variable chemistry on radionuclide and metal ion adsorption and transport has been demonstrated at two field sites at the km scale (Naturita, CO and Cape Cod, MA). Other research interests include carbonate chemistry, permeable reactive barriers for groundwater remediation, and the spatial variability of hydrologic and geochemical properties in aquifers.


  • 1977  Ph.D. Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Stanford University, USA
  • 1973  M.S.  Civil Engineering, Stanford University
  • 1972  B.S.  Chemical Engineering, Carnegie‑Mellon University

Professional Experience

  • 2010-2015:  Senior Geological Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • 1980‑2010:  Senior Research Scientist, U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division
  • 1989‑90:  Visiting Scientist, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization
  • 1980:  Guest Investigator, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 
  • 1978‑80:  Postdoctoral Scientist, Swiss Federal Institute for Water Resources (EAWAG), Zurich, Switzerland

Professional Activities

  • Organizing Committee and Panel Chair, DOE Workshop on Basic Research Needs for the Geosciences, Nuclear Waste Disposal and Carbon Sequestration, 2006-2007.
  • Technical Direction Team, Sorption Project, Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD, Paris):  A team of five selected international experts working to evaluate the potential use of thermodynamic sorption models in nuclear waste performance assessment modeling, 2000-2007.
  • Chairman, Working Group on Subsurface Reactive Transport Modeling, Interagency Steering Committee on Multimedia Environmental Models, 2003-2006.
  • Program Committee, Geotrap-V Workshop on the Transport of Radionuclides in Heterogeneous Geologic Media: Oskershamn, Sweden, May 2001.
  • Associate Editor, Water Resources Research: 1997-2001.
  • Executive Committee, Hydrology Section, American Geophysical Union: 1995 - 1997.
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission Review Panel:  Technical review of the Sorption for High-Level Waste Performance Assessment Research Program of the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 1995.
  • Chairman, Geochemistry Division, American Chemical Society:  1992.
  • Program Chairman, Geochemistry Division, American Chemical Society:  1991.

Professional Societies

American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, Geochemical Society


  • 2010-2011: CSIRO Distinguished Visiting Scientist, Land and Water Division, Perth, Australia
  • 2001 Noted as author of one of the 10 most cited articles in journal history, Environmental Science and Technology.
  • 2000 Secretary of Interior’s Distinguished Service Award, for outstanding scientific contributions

Symposium Organization

  1. Symposium Co-Chairman for “Metal and Metalloid Speciation and Adsorption”, National ACS meeting, Salt Lake City: March 2009
  2. Symposium Co-Chairman for “Groundwater Remediation of Trace Metals, Radionuclides, and Nutrients with Permeable Reactive Barriers”, AGU National Meeting, San Francisco: Dec. 1999.
  3. Symposium Chairman for "Surface Chemistry of Natural Materials", Goldschmidt Conference, Reston, VA, May 1992.
  4. Symposium Chairman for "Aqueous Chemistry and Geochemical Cycles of Iron and Manganese", National ACS meeting, Miami, Sept. 1989.
  5. Symposium Chairman for "Chemical Reactions at the Mineral/Water Interface", National ACS meeting, Chicago, Sept. 1985.

Book Editing

  1. Davis, J. A., and Hayes, K. F., (eds), 1986, Geochemical Processes at Mineral Surfaces, American Chemical Society Symposium Series, v. 323, 700 pages.
  2. D. A. Naftz, S. J. Morrison, J. A. Davis, and C. C. Fuller (eds), 2002, Groundwater Remediation of Trace Metals, Radionuclides, and Nutrients with Permeable Reactive Barriers, Academic Press.

Patents Held

  1. Aquifer Remediation Barrier for Removal of Inorganic Contaminants, Patent no. 6,428,695 B1, Inventors: Dave Naftz and James Davis and Dave Naftz, August 2002.
  2. Deep Aquifer Remediation System, Patent No.6,458,271 B1, Inventors: Dave Naftz and James Davis, October 2002.