Martin Goldhaber


Martin (Marty) Goldhaber grew up in Los Angeles California. He received his BS in Chemistry (1968) and PhD in Geochemistry (1973) both from UCLA. After spending a year as a Post Doc at Yale, he joined the USGS in 1975. He is currently a Scientist Emeritus. Marty is past President of the Geochemical Society. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Economic Geologists and has served on the editorial boards of Economic Geology, American Journal of Science, and Geochimica (two terms). He has been awarded the Presidential Rank award. His research focuses on the role of geology, hydrology, ecology, and land use in regional soil geochemistry. He was co-chair of the USGS Science Strategy team.

He is currently a Senior Scientist at the USGS where he received the Department of the Interior Meritorious Service, and the Presidential Rank Awards, and served a rotation as the Chief Scientist for Geology. He was co-chair of the USGS Science Strategy Team which identified key strategic directions for the USGS to follow over the next decade. Marty has been a member of the Geochemical Society since 1972 and has been involved in the Society in a number of roles; including President. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Economic Geologists. Marty has served on the editorial boards of Economic Geology, American Journal of Science, and Geochimica (two terms) and has served on advisory boards for the Geological Society of America, the Ocean Drilling Program, NASA, and NSF. His association with the Colorado School of Mines and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as adjunct professor resulted in the mentoring of thirteen masters and doctoral students. He is also on the faculty of the Minerals, Metals, Metalloids, and Toxicity program at SUNY Stony Brook. Marty’s research interests have evolved during his career. His early work was on the biogeochemistry of sulfur in modern marine sediments. After joining the USGS, he applied these perspectives on sulfur geochemistry toward understanding the origin of sediment-hosted ore deposits. This interest in ore genesis led to a focus on large scale crustal fluid flow processes that drive not only genesis of some ore types, but also impact the modern environment by enriching shallow crustal rocks with potentially toxic constituents. His research then evolved into understanding the environmental impacts of these crustal flow processes. One example of these impacts is the regional enrichment of aquifer rocks in the mid-continent of the U.S. with trace amounts of potentially toxic metals such as Pb and As which can leach into groundwater aquifers. Another example is the enrichment in coal and coal-bearing rocks of the Appalachian Basin of the eastern U.S. in As, Hg, Se, and Tl by fluids mobilized during the Alleghanian orogenic event. He has researched the mobilization of these coal-related constituents into streams by natural weathering and mining and into the atmosphere and soils by coal combustion. He is currently co-chief of a USGS project to map the inorganic and selected organic constituents in soils of the U.S, and together with the Canadian and Mexican Geological Surveys, all of North America. His research current focus is a soil/sediment/groundwater geochemistry study in northern California along a latitudinal transect from Marin County north of San Francisco to the Nevada border. Potentially carcinogenic Cr (as Cr6+) and Ni enrichments occur in soil derived from ultramafic belts. The data include chemical analyses on nearly 2000 soil samples from archives including 1300 surface soils in the central and eastern portion of the study area and 100 soil profiles across the transect. Chromium, Ni, and V in these samples display distinctive patterns reflecting the underlying geology. Elevated concentrations of soil Cr (up to 6000 ppm) and Ni (up to 3000 ppm) overlie ultramafic rocks in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and are also associated with serpentinites in the Coast Ranges west of the Sacramento Valley. Chromium in these ultramafic soil samples is predominantly in a refractory form, presumabley as chromite (FeCr204). Soils with Tertiary volcanic and granitic parent material, as well as alluvial soil in the eastern Sacramento Valley, have substantially lower Cr and Ni concentrations. Surprisingly, elevated Cr and Ni content (150-400 ppm and 60-300, respectively) occurs in Sacramento Valley soils west of the Sacramento River, which was derived in part from sediments transported from ultramafic rocks in the Coast Ranges to the west of the Sacramento Valley. Chromium in this geographic setting is in a less refractory form that is more easily mobilized from soil. The potential for a link between soil geochemistry and human-health issues is being investigated through ‘bioaccessibility’ (selective leach) studies and  have subjected a subset of samples to selective leaching by water, simulated human lung and gastric fluid, and ‘cell line fluid’ (which may be a proxy for fluids characteristic of long-term exposure in the lung). These studies reveal the release of Cr and Ni to the solutions (0.01 -1 ppm and 0.06-150 ppm, respectively). Dust samples from near the cities of Sacramento and Stockton have elevated Cr content that is indicative of western Sacramento Valley soils, particularly in winter. We cannot infer a direct causal link between our data and specific health outcomes; however, the incidence of lung cancer is elevated in our study area, particularly for white females.