R.M. (Matt) Joeckel

R.M. (Matt) Joeckel

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Title State Geologist and Associate Director for Conservation and Survey
Address 615 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
Phone 402-472-7520
FAX 402-472-2946
E-mail rjoeckel3@unl.edu
Vitae Download file

I am Matt Joeckel, research geologist, state geologist and associate director for the Conservation and Survey Division in the School of Natural Resources. I began working at UNL in 2000.

The majority of my university appointment is in the Conservation and Survey Division (CSD), Nebraska's geological, geographic, water and soil survey. I am pleased to hold a joint appointment in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, where I teach (or have taught) GEOL 100 Introduction to Geology, GEOL 101 Physical Geology, GEOL 110 Geological Natural Hazards, and GEOL 450/850 Surficial Processes. In 2010, I became a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. In 2011, I was selected to serve as Curator of Geology in the University of Nebraska State Museum.

My main areas of expertise are sedimentology, the study of sediments and their environments of deposition; and stratigraphy, the study of rock and sediment layers; environmental geology (including groundwater); mineral resources; terrestrial paleoecology and paleoclimatology; and geomorphology. I am also interested in soil formation processes and soil-landscape-parent material relationships.

RMJ in southeasternmost Richardson County at the original boundary marker between the Kansas and Nebraska territories, established in 1854.  Pennsylvanian strata in the immediate area include fluvial-estuarine sediments with thin coals, in which early settlers had great (but misplaced) hopes for economic development
RMJ in southeasternmost Richardson County at the original boundary marker between the Kansas and Nebraska territories, established in 1854. Pennsylvanian strata in the immediate area include fluvial-estuarine sediments with thin coals, in which early settlers placed great (but unfounded) hopes for economic development.

In mapping and analyzing surficial geology, I promote an understanding of how Nebraska's current landscape originated and how people interact with that landscape and the geologic materials underneath it. My research on bedrock helps determine where mineral (e.g., clay and limestone) and groundwater resources can be found, and also illuminates the origins of those resources.

Much of my stratigraphic research has focused on Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks. Recent projects include studies of Pennsylvanian cyclothems in Midcontinent USA; geochemistry, mineralogy, and sequence stratigraphy of the Dakota Formation, a secondary aquifer in north-central and eastern Nebraska; stable-isotope chemostratigraphy and lithostratigraphy of the Cedar Mountain Formation (Cretaceous) in Utah, which yields important dinosaur fossils; and the examination ancient soils and land surfaces from the perspectives of stratigraphy and climate change.

I began research projects on Neogene strata in western Nebraska, particularly the Ash Hollow Member of the Ogallala Group, which is a major part of the High Plains Aquifer. With others, I am reconstructing the depositional history and paleoclimatic implications of stream and lake sediments in those strata. I cooperate with personnel from the Kansas Geological Survey, Iowa Geological Survey Bureau, the Utah Geological Survey, and others on projects that deal with region-wide stratigraphic problems, and the calibration of worldwide geologic events and time scales.

In the areas of geomorphology and environmental geology, I have also researched acid rock drainage and the neoformation of minerals in acid weathering environments. I and my co-authors have found several minerals hitherto undescribed from the state, and in some cases, the entire Great Plains region. I am involved in collaborative research on the origin and behavior of eolian dust, eolian erosion and its impact on landforms, loess stratigraphy, and loess pseudokarst. I have examined the historical evolution of channels and patterns of sedimentation in the eastern Platte River. I also have examined soil formation on modern landscapes, including the evolution of saline and alkaline wetlands.

I am currently a participant in the Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA), which has the long-term goal of an improved understanding of groundwater and groundwater-surface water interactions in eastern Nebraska. I have yearly geologic mapping projects funded through the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) STATEMAP geologic mapping program. I also compile a yearly inventory of mineral resource operations in Nebraska for USGS, as well as provide service to the mineral industry of Nebraska. This form of applied scholarship can range from helping producers locate economic quantities of minerals and environmentally sound ways of extracting them to helping them settle disagreements regarding the nature, quality and application of mineral products. My recent efforts have assisted the development of niobium, rare-earth, and limestone deposits in southeastern Nebraska. I also field questions from the public regarding groundwater, rocks, minerals, soils, earthquakes and geologic hazards.

Selected Publications

Joeckel, R.M., Wally, K.D., Ang Clement, B. J., Hanson, P.R., Dillon, J.S., and Wilson, S.K., 2011, Low-temperature acidic weathering of sulfidic shales and neoformation of aluminum-bearing minerals, Eastern Nebraska, USA, Catena, v. 85, p. 253-266.
Ludvigson, G.A., Joeckel, R.M., Gonzalez, L.A., Gulbranson, E.L., Rasbury, E.T., Hunt, G.J., Kirkland, J.I., and Madsen, S., 2010, Correlation of Aptian-Albian Carbon Isotope Excursions in Continental Strata of the Cretaceous Foreland Basin of eastern Utah. Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 80, p. 955-974.
Ludvigson, G.A., Witzke, B.J., Joeckel, R.M., Ravn, R.L., Phillips, P.L., Gonzalez, L.A., Brenner, R.L., 2010. New insights on the sequence stratigraphic architecture of the Dakota Formation in Kansas-Nebraska-Iowa from a decade of sponsored research activity. Kansas Geological Survey Current Research in Earth Sciences, Bulletin 25, part 2. p. 1-35.   On-Line
Joeckel, R.M., 2008, Enigmatic structures in an Upper Pennsylvanian (Stephanian/Kasimovian) marine limestone. Palaios, v. 23, p. 833-847.
Joeckel, R.M., and Henebry, G.M., 2008, Channel and Island Change in the Lower Platte River, Eastern Nebraska, USA: 1855-2005. Geomorphology, v. 102, p. 407-418
Joeckel, R.M., Loope, H.M., Wally, K.D., and Hellerich, J.E., 2007, Late Cenozoic geomorphology of a bedrock-dominated landscape adjacent to the laurentide glacial limit, Southeastern Nebraska, USA. Zeitschrift fur Geomorphologie, v. 51, p. 469-486.
Joeckel, R.M., Nicklen, B.L., and Carlson, M.P., 2007, Low-accommodation, eustasy-dominated, coarse-clastic sediment apron alongside a basement uplift, Pennsylvanian of Midcontinent North America. Sedimentary Geology, v. 197, p. 165-187.
Joeckel, R.M., Wally, K.D., Fischbein, S.A., and Hanson, P.R., 2007, Sulfate mineral paragenesis in Pennsylvanian rocks and the occurrence of slavikite in Nebraska. Great Plains Research, v. 17, p. 17-34.
Mason, J.A., Joeckel, R.M., and Bettis, E.A., 2007, Middle to Late Pleistocene loess record in eastern Nebraska, USA, and implications for the unique record of Oxygen Isotope Stage 2. Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 26, p. 773-792.
Phillips, P.L., Ludvigson, G.A., Joeckel, R.M., Gonzalez, L.A., Brenner, R.L., and Witzke, B.J., 2007, Sequence stratigraphic controls on synsedimentary cementation and preservation of dinosaur tracks: Examples from the lower Cretaceous (upper Albian) Dakota Formation, Southeastern Nebraska, U.S.A. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 246, p. 367-389.
Gosselin, D.C., Klawer, L.M., Joeckel, R.M., Harvey, F.E., and Warren,K. J., 2006, Arsenic in rural public water supplies, Nebraska, USA. Great Plains Research, v. 16, p. 137-148.
Greene, R.S.B., Joeckel, R.M., and Mason, J.A., 2006, Dry-saline lakebeds as potential source areas of aeolian dust: studies from the central Great Plains of USA and SE Australia. Regolith 2006: Consolidation and Dispersion of Ideas. Proceedings of the CRC LEME Regolith Symposium, November 2006, Hahndorf Resort, South Australia.
Grocke, D.R., Ludvigson, G.A., Witzke, B.L. Robinson, S.A., Joeckel, R.M., Ufnar, D. F., Ravn, R.L., 2006, Recognizing the Albian-Cenomanian (OAE1d) sequence boundary using plant carbon isotopes: Dakota Formation, Western Interior Basin, USA. Geology, v. 34, p. 193-196.

Educational Background

  • BS - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Geology (1985)
  • MS - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Geology (1988)
  • PhD - University of Iowa, Geology (1993)


  • 2014 – John C. Frye Memorial Award awarded by Association of American State Geologists 

SNR Mission Area(s)

  • Environmental Science

Affiliations (index)

Notable Websites

Other Areas of Interest

Regional sedimentology and stratigraphy (particularly Paleozoic and Mesozoic), Environmental geology, Mineral resources and identification, Clays and clay minerals, Weathering processes and products, Pedology (soil genesis) and paleopedology (ancient soils), Geologic mapping, Vertebrate paleontology, Geomorphology and landscape evolution, Mineral resources, Sedimentary petrology, Extension and outreach, Science education

SNR Areas of Expertise

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Graduate Program(s)

Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences