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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Laura DeMott

Laura DeMott portrait

Graduate Student

Earth Sciences

209 Heroy Geology Laboratory

PhD Student Earth Sciences

Advisor: Chris Scholz

BS Geology, Western Kentucky University

MS Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin

Holding a tufa “mushroom” on the shores of Pyramid Lake, NV.

Research Interests

Broadly, I am interested in the sedimentology and geochemistry of non-marine carbonate rocks, and have been involved in research on speleothems, karst spring deposits, hydrothermal spring deposits, and lacustrine deposits. I find carbonates in general to be fascinating because they form from an occasionally complicated interaction between chemical, biological, and physical processes. Because these rocks are formed by precipitating out of water, the chemical composition of the rocks reflects that of the water body they are forming in. Thus, carbonate rocks can potentially be used to reconstruct past conditions of lakes, rivers, springs, groundwater systems, and oceans. This makes them important geologic proxies for understanding the past environments on Earth.

My doctoral research focuses on understanding the processes governing carbonate deposition in rift lakes, focusing on the lake systems of the western Basin and Range. In particular, I am focusing on a type of lacustrine carbonate deposit commonly referred to as “tufa” that is commonly found in the remnant lakes of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan. I am examining the processes that result in tufa carbonate deposition in these lakes at various scales. I use thin section petrography to describe tufas, and employ organic, inorganic, and isotopic geochemistry to examine the conditions in which tufas are deposited. I also use drone technology to map tufa outcrops and create detailed depositional models.

An outcrop of tufa carbonate rocks at Winnemucca Dry Lake, NV.


Instructor Positions TA Positions

  • Earth Science of Energy (co-lecturer) – Syracuse University
  • GeoFORCE Texas field academies (9th grade, 11th grade, 12th grade) – UT-Austin
  • Sedimentary Processes and Systems – Syracuse University
  • Geohazards and Natural Disasters – Syracuse University
  • Paleobiology – UT-Austin
  • Physical Geology – UT-Austin
  • Field Methods in Groundwater Hydrology – UT-Austin

Teaching GeoFORCE 12th grade students about lake terraces on Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, UT.

Selected Publications

DeMott, LM, Napieralski, SA, Junium, CK, Teece, M, and Scholz, CA, 2019, Microbially influenced lacustrine carbonates: A comparison of late Quaternary Lahontan tufa and modern thrombolite from Fayetteville Green Lake, NY, Geobiology, 00:1–20,

DeMott LM, Scholz CA and Junium CK, 2019, 8200-year growth history of a Lahontan-age lacustrine tufa deposit, Sedimentology, v. 66, pp. 2169–2190,

  • DeMott, L.M., Scholz, C.A., Uveges, B.T.I., and Junium, C.K. (2017) Growth history and composition of a lacustrine tufa dome from Winnemucca Dry Lake, NV, USA. Geological Society of America, Annual Meeting, poster.
  • DeMott, L.M., Sivaguru, M., Fried, G., Sanford, R., and Fouke, B.W. (2014) Quantification of dynamic water-rock-microbe interactions in a travertine-depositing hot spring, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, USA. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting, poster.
  • DeMott, L.M., Piazza, O., Bertran, E., Bonis, B., Frantz, C.M., Loyd, S.J., Corsetti, F.A., and Spear, J.A. (2014) Using carbon isotopes to assess biogenicity of mixed-composition accretionary structures from a thermal spring (Little Hot Creek, California, USA). Geological Society of America, Annual Meeting, poster.
  • DeMott, L.M., Banner, J.L., and Christian, L.N. (2006) Recent travertine deposits as records of groundwater processes in urbanizing environments. Geological Society of America, Annual Meeting, poster.