Randall Schaetzl

Office: 517-353-7726
Fax: 517-432-1671
Email: soils@msu.edu

Randall Schaetzl

University Distinguished Professor of Geography

Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences
128 Geography Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

(jointly appointed: Dept of Earth and Environmental Science, Michigan State University)

(jointly appointed, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Madison)

Fellow, Geological Society of America
Fellow, Soil Science Society of America

Research Interests

My research interests center soils and geomorphology, in a broad sense.

Specifically, my work revolves around several research streams:

  1. Explaining the spatial variability in soils and surficial sediments (at all scales), primarily where they relate to glacial sedimentologic processes, and/or have been altered by pedogenesis,
  2. using spatial patterns of climate to explain regional-, meso- and micro-scale variability in soils and pedogenic processes,
  3. how the characteristics and patterns of loess deposits can better explain post-glacial environments and loess transportation/depositional processes,
  4. understanding the nuances of soil genesis, particularly podzolization and lessivage,
  5. glacial geomorphology, with emphasis on the upper midwest and how patterns of glacial sediments can be better understood and interpreted by using soils data,
  6. soil temperatures and how they are affected by (linked to) atmospheric change, and how they in turn affect near-surface processes,
  7. soils and how they relate to plants and plant geography.

In sum, I study the spatial interactions and process linkages among soil/surficial physical systems (including eolian systems) and (i) geomorphology, (ii) climate and hydrology, and/or (iii) biota.

I work on research topics related to soil gemorphology and geography, pedogenic processes, soil genesis and soil water, and plant geography.

Much of my past work has centered on the processes of podzolization and lessivage (clay translocation). Currently, I am most involved in mapping and explaining loess deposits in Wisconsin and Michigan.

My research necessitates an understanding of the sedimentary environments (glacial, lacustrine, eolian, etc.) that have formed the soil parent materials. Opportunities exist for funded research assistantships in these areas of research.

Contact me for more details.


I work mainly in Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

I am a member of the Quaternary Landscapes Research Group at MSU.

More Info on the QLRG

Links & Resources


Gravel Pit
Titcomb basin

RS sitting on rock
RS and Madeline
Polish loess

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