William Berelson

Paxson H. Offield Professor in Coastal and Marine Systems and Professor of Earth Sciences, Environmental Studies and Spatial Sciences
William Berelson
Email berelson@usc.edu Office ZHS 227 Office Phone (310) 804-8981

Research & Practice Areas

Climate Science, Geobiology, Geochemistry


  • Ph.D. Geochemistry, University of Southern California, 1/1985
  • M.S. Geological Sciences (Sedimentology), Duke University, 1/1979
  • B.A. Geological Sciences, University of Rochester, 1/1977
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Professor, University of Southern California, 2008 –
    • Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 09/01/2004 –
    • Research Associate Professor, Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 01/01/1996 – 01/01/2004
    • Research Assistant Professor, Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 01/01/1988 – 01/01/1995
    • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Geochemistry, University of Southern California, 01/01/1985 – 01/01/1988
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Will Berelson is a biogeochemist with interests in geobiology, oceanography and paleo-oceanography. Using an interdisciplinary approach, he studies chemical and microbiological processes in sea floor sediments, and has discovered novel microbial-geochemical interactions and helped to quantify global ocean fluxes. Known for his use of robots to explore deep-sea sediments, he investigates how biogeochemical reactions in the sediments and water column influence the local and global cycling of carbon and other elements. Also embedded in his research is the quest to link modern geochemical rates and processes to observations and interpretations of the rock record.

  • Book Chapters

    • Nealson, K., Berelson, W. (2009). Encyclopedia of Microbiology.

    Journal Article

    • Chong, L., Prokopenko, M., Berelson, W., Townsend-Small, A., McManus, J. (2011). Nitrogen cycling within Suboxic and Anoxic Marine Sediments from the Continental Margin of Western North America. Deep Sea Research.
    • Prokopenko, M., Sigman, D., Berelson, W., Hammond, D., Barnett, B., Chong, L., Townsend-Small, A. (2011). Denitrification in anoxic sediments supported by biological nitrate transport. Geochemica Cosmochimica Acta.
    • Berelson, W., Corsetti, F. A., Pepe-Ranney, C., Hammond, D. E., Beaumont, W., Spear, J. (2011). Hot spring siliceous stromatolites from Yellowstone National Park: Assessing growth rate and laminae formation. Geobiology.
    • Lund, S., Platzman, E., Thouveney, N., Camoin, G., Corsetti, F., Berelson, W. (2010). Biological control of paleomagnetic remanence acquisition in carbonate framework rocks of the Tahiti coral reef. Earth Planetary Science Letters. (doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2010.07.010)
    • Severmann, S., McManus, J., Berelson, W., Hammond, D. (2010). The continental shelf benthic iron flux and its isoptope composition. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta. Vol. 74, pp. 3984-4004.
    • Meister, P., Reyes, C., Beaumont, W., Rincon, M., Collins, L., Berelson, W., Stott, L., Corsetti, F. (2010). Calcium and magnesium-limited dolomite precipitation at Deep Springs Lake, CA. Sedimentology.
    • Collins, L., Berelson, W., Hammond, D., Knapp, A., Schwartz, R., Capone, D. (2010). Particle fluxes in San Pedro Basin, California: A four-year record of sedimentation and physical forcing. Deep Sea Research.
    • Salas, E., Berelson, W., Hammond, D., Kampf, A., Nealson, K. (2009). The impact of bacterial strain on the products of dissimilatory iron reduction. Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta. Vol. 74, pp. 574-583.
    • Harrison, B. (2009). Variations in archaeal and bacterial diversity associated with the sulfate-methane transition zone in continental margin sediments (Santa Barbara Basin, CA). Applied and Environmental Microbiology. (doi:10.1128/AEM.01812-0)
    • Sekula-Wood, E. (2009). The Toxin Express: Rapid downward transport of the neurotoxin domoic acid in coastal waters. Nature-Geosciences. (DOI:10.1038/NGEO472)
    • Salas, E., Berelson, W., Hammond, D., Kampf, A., Nealson, K. (2009). The influence of carbon source on the products of dissimilatory iron reduction. Geomicrobiology Journal. Vol. 26
    • Johnson, K., Berelson, W., Boss, E., Chase, Z., Claustre, H., Emerson, S. (2009). Observing biogeochemical cycles at global scales with profiling floats and gliders: prospects for a global array. Oceanography Magazine. Vol. 22, pp. 216-225.
    • Poulson Brucker, R., McManus, J., Severmann, S., Berelson, W. (2009). Molybdenum behavior during early diagenesis: Insights from Mo isotopes. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst..
    • Colbert, S., Berelson, W., Hammond, D. (2008). Radon-222 budget in Catalina Habor, California: 2. Flow dynamics and residence time in a tidal beach. Limnology and Oceanography. Vol. 53, pp. 659-665.
    • USC Raubenheimer Outstanding Senior Faculty Award, , 2018-2019