David Finkelstein

David FinkelsteinAssociate Professor of GeoscienceChair, Geoscience

Joined faculty in 2013

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
M.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
B.S., University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Contact Information

Lansing HallPhone (315) 781-4443

Scholarly Interest

Aqueous Geochemistry
Stable Isotope Geochemistry

Teaching Experience

2019-  Associate Professor, Geosciences, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY

2013-19  Assistant Professor, Geosciences, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY

2010-13  Stable Isotope and Biogeochemistry Lab Manager, Research Assistant Professor, Geosciences Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

2006-10  Jones Assistant Professor of Environmental Geochemistry, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

2000-06  Postdoctoral Research Fellow,Geological Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

2001-02  Assistant Professor, part time, Geological Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

1999-00  Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Geology, Miami University, Oxford, OH

1999  Lecturer, Department of Geology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL

1996-98  Visiting Teaching Specialist,Department of Geology,University of Illinois, Urbana, IL


Controls on the chemical evolution of till-derived waters.

• Characterizing the intersection of organic and aqueous geochemistry in the evolution of ponds to lake systems.

• Exploring microbial life on the edge of hydration in lakes, seeps and hot springs, using aqueous (major anions and cations), stable isotope (O, D, and S), organic (molecular and compound specific) geochemistry combined with microbiological methodologies.

• Examining transitions within Holocene/Pleistocene, Cretaceous and Triassic lacustrine environments using biogeochemistry (biomarkers), stable isotope geochemistry (bulk and compound-specific) and mineralogy to characterize productivity, biodiversity, vegetation, and climate information.

• Investigating the use of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fusinite reflectance to ascertain signatures of biomass burning events, diagenetic processes, and records of combustion and burial, with implications for paleoclimate.

• Documenting organic geochemical and isotopic changes of petroleum over time following the April 20, 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Courses Taught

  • FSEM 176 How We Talk and Learn About Climate Change
  • FSEM 180 The Blue Planet
  • GEO 142 Earth Systems Science
  • GEO 186 Introduction to Hydrogeology
  • GEO 250 Oceanography
  • GEO 280 Aquous and Environmental Geochemistry
  • GEO 330 Limnology
  • GEO 335 Stable Isotope Geochemistry
  • coming soon Introduction to Biogeochemistry


Rosen, M.R., Finkelstein, D.B., Boush, L.P., and Pla-Pueyo, S. (Eds.), 2021, Limnogeology: Progress, challenges and opportunities: A tribute to Elizabeth gierlowski-kordesch: Cham, Switzerland, Springer Nature, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-66576-0

Rosen M.R., Boush L.P., Finkelstein D.B., Pla-Pueyo S., 2021, Introduction to Limnogeology: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities: A Tribute to Elizabeth Gierlowski-Kordesch: inLimnogeology: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities, Rosen M.R., Finkelstein D.B., Boush L.P., Pla-Pueyo S., eds., Springer International Publishing, 3-16, https://dx.doi.org/ 10.1007/978-3-030-66576-0_1    

Gierlowski-Kordesch, E.H., Rothwell, G.W., Stockey, R.A., and Finkelstein, D.B., 2021, Submarine Groundwater Discharge as a Catalyst for Eodiagenetic Carbonate Cements Within Marine Sedimentary Basins: in Limnogeology: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities, Rosen M.R., Finkelstein D.B., Boush L.P., Pla-Pueyo S., eds., Springer International Publishing, 445-468, https://dx.doi.org/ 10.1007/978-3-030-66576-0_15 

Rostami, M.A., Leckie, R.M., Font, E., Frontalini, F., Finkelstein, D., and Koeberl, C., 2018, The Cretaceous-Paleogene transition at Galanderud (northern Alborz, Iran): A multidisciplinary approach. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 493, 82-101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2018.01.001

Taylor, Z.P., Horn, S.P., and Finkelstein, D.B., 2015, Assessing intra-basin spatial variability in geochemical and isotopic signatures in the sediments of a small neotropical lake: Journal of Paleolimnology, 54(4). DOI:10.1007/s10933-015-9859-x

Nicoll, K., and Finkelstein, D.B., 2014, Saline Lakes...A Logical Step in Exploring Habitability of “The Final Frontier.” Palaios, 29. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2110/pal.2014.s0614

*Wei, J. H., Finkelstein, D. B., Brigham-Grette, J., Castañeda, I. S., Nowaczyk, N., 2014, Sediment colour reflectance spectroscopy as a proxy for wet/dry cycles at Lake El'gygytgyn, Far East Russia, during Marine Isotope Stages 8 to 12. Sedimentology. doi: 10.1111/sed.12116

Gierlowski-Kordesch, E., Finkelstein, D.B., Truchan Holland, J.J., Kallini, K.D., 2013, Carbonate lake deposits associated with distal siliciclastic perennial-river systems: Journal of Sedimentary Research, 83, 1114-1129. doi: 10.2110/jsr.2013.81

Z.P. Taylor, S.P. Horn, and D.B. Finkelstein, 2013, Pre-Hispanic agricultural decline prior to the Spanish Conquest in southern Central America: Quaternary Science Reviews, 73, 196-200.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2013.05.022

*D’Anjou, R.M., J.H. Wei, I.S. Castañeda, J. Brigham-Grette, S. T. Petsch, and D.B. Finkelstein, 2013, High-latitude environmental change during MIS 8–12: biogeochemical evidence from Lake El’gygytgyn, Far East Russia. Climate of the Past Discussions, 8, 4745-4777. http://www.clim-past-discuss.net/8/4745/2012/

*D’Anjou, R.M., R.S. Bradley, N.L. Balascio and D.B. Finkelstein, 2012, Climate impacts on human settlement and agricultural activities in northern Norway, new insights from biogeochemistry: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. http://dx.doi.org/DOI:10.1073/pnas.1212730109

*Taylor, Z.P., Horn, S.P., Finkelstein, D.B., 2012, Maize pollen concentrations in Neotropical lake sediments as an indicator of the scale of prehistoric agriculture: The Holocene. http://dx.doi.org/DOI: 10.1177/0959683612450201

Lane, C.S., Horn, S.P., Mora, C.I., Orvis, K.H., and Finkelstein, D.B., 2011, Sedimentary stable carbon isotope evidence of Late Quaternary vegetation and climate change in the Chirripó Páramo of Costa Rica: Journal of Paleolimnology, 45(3), p. 323-338.

*Lewis, D. B. Finkelstein, D.B., Grissino‐Mayer, H. D., Mora, C. I.  and E. Perfect, 2011, A multitree perspective of the tree ring tropical cyclone record from longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.), Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas, United States: J. Geophys. Res., 116, G02017, doi:10.1029/2009JG001194

Finkelstein, D.B., Brassell, S.C., and Pratt, L.M., 2010, Microbial biosynthesis of wax esters during desiccation: an adaptation for colonization of the earliest terrestrial environments? Geology, 38, p. 247-250.

Finkelstein, D.B., Pratt, L.M., and Brassell, S.C., 2006, Can biomass burning produce a globally significant carbon-isotope excursion in the sedimentary record? Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 250, p.501-510.

Finkelstein, D.B., and Pratt, L.M., Brassell, S.C., and Curtin, T.M., 2005, Wildfires and seasonal aridity recorded in Late Cretaceous strata from southeastern Arizona: Sedimentology, 52, p. 587-99.

Dumitrescu, M., Finkelstein, D.B., Lazar, R.O., Schieber, J., and Brassell, S.C., 2004, Origin and history of bitumen in geodes of the New Albany Shale.  J. Schieber and R. Lazar, eds., Devonian Black Shales of the Eastern U.S.: New insights into sedimentology and stratigraphy from the subsurface and outcrops in Illinois and Appalachian Basins: Indiana Geological Survey Open-File Report 04-05.

Finkelstein, D.B., 2004, Thoughts on fire: Palaios, v. 19, No. 2, p. 111-112.

Studley, S.A., Ripley, E.M., Elswick, E.R., Dorais, M.J., Fong, J., Finkelstein, D., and L.M. Pratt, 2002, Analysis of sulfides in whole rock matrices by elemental analyzer–continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry: Chemical Geology, v. 192, p. 141-148.

Finkelstein, D.B., Hay, R.L., and S.P. Altaner, 2001, REPLY—Origin and diagenesis of lacustrine sediments in the upper Oligocene Creede Formation: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 113, n. 3, p. 541-544.

Bethke, P.M., Rye, R.O., and D.B. Finkelstein, 2000, Stable isotopic studies of vein carbonates and diagenetic sulfates, silicates, and carbonates, in Ancient Lake Creede: Its volcano-tectonic setting, history of sedimentation and relation to mineralization in the Creede Mining District, P.M. Bethke and R.L. Hay, eds., Geological Society of America, Special Paper 346, p. 267-286.

Rye, R.O., Bethke, P.M., and D.B. Finkelstein, 2000, Stable isotope evolution of Lake Creede, in Ancient Lake Creede (as cited above): p. 233-266.

Finkelstein, D.B., Altaner, S.P., and R.L. Hay, 2000, Alteration history of volcaniclastic sediment in the upper Oligocene Creede Formation, southwestern Colorado, in Ancient Lake Creede (as cited above): p. 209-232.

Finkelstein, D.B., Hay, R.L., and S.P. Altaner, 1999, Origin and diagenesis of lacustrine sediments in the upper Oligocene Creede Formation: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 111, n. 8, p. 1175–1191.

Leckie, R. M., Yuretich, R., West, O.L., Finkelstein, D.B., and M. Schmidt, 1998, Paleoceanography of the southwestern Greenhorn Sea during the time of the Cenomanian/Turonian boundary (Late Cretaceous): in W.E. Dean and M.A. Arthur, eds., Stratigraphy and Paleoenvironments of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway, Concepts in Sedimentology and Paleontology Number 6, Society for Sedimentary Geology, p. 101-126.

Leckie, R., Schmidt, M., Finkelstein, D.B., and R. Yuretich, 1991, Paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic interpretations of the Mancos Shale (Upper Cretaceous): in Stratigraphy, depositional environments, and sedimentary tectonics of the western margin, Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway, J. Dale Nations, ed., Geological Society of America, Special Paper 260, p. 139-152.


International Association of Limnogeology
American Geophysical Union
International Association of Sedimentologists
Geological Society of America
International Society for Salt Lake Research
Geochemical Society
SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology)


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