Dr. LeeAnn Munk

LeeAnn Munk, Ph.D.

Department of Geological Sciences


  • Ph.D., Geological Sciences, The Ohio State University, 2001
  • M.S., Geology, Michigan State University, 1998
  • B.S., Geology, St. Norbert College, 1995


Dr. Munk is currently a Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences where she teaches courses in geochemistry, earth resources, and field methods. Her current research is focused on determining the hydrogeochemistry and origin of lithium brines and the role of high-latitude volcano weathering in the global carbon cycle.

Teaching Responsibilities

  • GEOL A461/A661 Geochemistry (every fall)
  • GEOL A361 Earth Resources and Society (currently every fall)
  • GEOL A460/660 Environmental Geochemistry (rotating spring)
  • GEL A465/665 Isotope Geochemistry (rotating spring)
  • GEOL A480 Geologic Field Methods (every spring)
  • GEOL A490/A690 Geology of Death Valley (spring break field course, next offering Spring 2019)

Research Interests

Dr. Munk's research is focused on the geochemistry of natural waters, in particular water-rock interactions and how major and trace elements and isotopes can be applied to understand geochemical weathering and elemental cycles. She is interested in solving environmental problems as well as developing novel geochemical exploration tools. She has applied the principles of geochemistry to diverse problems associated with mined and un-mined mineralized terrains and has investigated trace element geochemistry across a spectrum of environments from polar and high altitude deserts to temperate climates. Some of her recent projects are focused on the origin of lithium brines in South America and Nevada, groundwater quality and resources in Alaska, and the geochemical weathering of high latitude island arcs. Dr. Munk is actively seeking both graduate and undergraduate students to complete theses related to her research.

Dr. LeeAnn Munk and her colleagues form UMASS-Amherst and the USGS are developing a global model for Lithium-enriched brines. Why lithium? Lithium is a critical and strategic element that is required for lithium-ion batteries for which the utilities are far reaching from small electronic devices to hybrid/ electric vehicles as well as home batteries and robots. The global supply of lithium from brines is not well documented because it is an unconventional type of mineral deposit. Dr. Munk and her team are focused on the origin of these special lithium deposits and they currently study two of them, one in Nevada and one in Atacama Desert, Chile. The focus of the work is to document the hydrogeochemical processes responsible for the source(s), transport and accumulation of lithium in these closed-basin settings (Munk et al., 2016). With research support from industry and the NSF Munk and her team are becoming the leading experts in understanding where, when, why, and how these deposits form on a global scale.


Munk, L.A., Boutt, D., Hynek, S.A., Moran, B., 2018.  Hydrogeochemical Fluxes and Processes Contributing to the Formation of Lithium-Enriched Brines in a Hyper-Arid Continental Basin, Chemical Geology, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000925411830233X?via%3Dihub

Reeves, M.K., Perdue, M., Munk, L.A., Hagedorn, B., 2018. Predicting risk of trace element pollution from municipal roads using site-specific soil samples and remotely sensed data, Science of the Total Environment, 630, 758-586.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.02.171.

Boutt, D., Hynek, S.A., Munk, L.A., Corenthal, L.G., 2016.  Rapid recharge of fresh water to the halite-hosted brine aquifer of Salar de Atacama, Chile, Hydrologic Processes, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10994, 22p.

Corenthal, L.G., Boutt, D.F., Hynek, S.A., Munk, L.A., 2016. Regional groundwater flow and accumulation of a massive evaporate deposit at the margin of the Chilean Altiplano, Geophysical Research Letters, 43, doi:10.1002/2016GL070076.

Munk, L.A. and Hynek, S.A., Bradley, D., Boutt, D., Labay, K., and Jochens, H., 2016.  Lithium brines: A Global Perspective, Reviews in Economic Geology, v. 18, p. 339-365.

R. Mathur, L.A. Munk, S. Shiming, N. Gómez Miguélez, S. Titley, G. Kunyi, F. Tornos, J. Ruiz, S. Brantley, 2014. Tracing low-temperature aqueous metal migration in mineralized watersheds with Cu isotope fractionation, Journal of Applied Geochemistry, v. 51, p.109-115.

Bradley, D., Munk, L.A., Jochens, H., Hynek, S., and Labay, K., 2013. A preliminary deposit model for lithium brines: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1006, 6 p.

Bradley, D., Stillings, L., Jaskula, B., Munk, L.A., and McCauley, A., 2013. Lithium in Schulz, K., Bradley, D., De Young, J., and Seal, R., editors, Critical Mineral Resources of the United States—Economic and Environmental Geology and Prospects for Future Supply, USGS Professional Paper, Chapter K. 

Mathur, R., Munk, L.A., Nguyen, M, Gregory, M., Annel, H., and Lang, J. 2013. Modern and paleo-fluid pathways revealed by Cu isotope fractionation in surface waters and ores of the Pebble porphyry Cu-Au-Mo deposit, Alaska.  Journal of Economic Geology, v. 108, no. 3, p. 529-541.

Eppinger, R., G., Fey, D.L., Giles, S.A., Grunsky, E.C., Kelley, K.D., Minsley, B.J., Munk, L.A., and Smith, S.M., 2013.  Summary of Exploration Geochemical and Mineralogical Studies at the Supergiant Pebble Porphyry Cu-Au-Mo Deposit, Alaska, USA, Journal of Economic Geology, v. 108, no.3, p.495-527

Torrance, K., Keenan, H., Munk, L.A., and Hagedorn, B., 2012. Arsenic speciation and mobility in surface water at Lucky Shot Gold Mine, Alaska. Environmental Geochemistry & Health, vol. 34, p.711-723.

Fortner, S.A., Lyons, W.B., Munk, L.A., 2012. Diel stream geochemistry, Taylor Valley, Antarctica, Hydrological Processes, 19 MAR 2012, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9255.

Fortner, S.A., Munk, L.A., 2011. Sources, Transport and Fate of Trace and Toxic Elements in the Environment – IAGS 2009, Journal of Applied Geochemistry, vol. 26, (11), p. 1775-1776.

Fortner, S.A., Mark, B.G., McKenzie, J.M., Bury, J., Trierweiler, A., Baraer, M., Burns, P.J., Munk, L.A., 2011.  Elevated stream trace and minor element concentrations in the foreland of a tropical glacier.  Journal of Applied Geochemistry, vol. 26 (11), p. 1792-1801.

Munk, L.A., Hagedorn, B. and Sjostrom, D., 2011.  Seasonal fluctuations and mobility of arsenic in groundwater resources, Anchorage, Alaska.  Journal of Applied Geochemistry, vol. 26(11), p.1811-1817

Stillings, L.L., Foster, A., Koski, R.A., Munk, L.A., Shanks, III, W.C., 2008.  Temporal Variation and Metals Flux from the Historic Beatson Mine, Prince William Sound, AK, Applied Geochemistry, v.23, p. 255-278.

Foster, A.L., Munk, L.A., Koski, R.A., Shanks, III, W.C., Stillings, L.L., 2008. Relationships between microbial communities, environmental parameters, and heavy metal toxicity at sites impacted by mining of volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits, Prince William Sound, Alaska, Applied Geochemistry, v. 23, p.279-307.

Koski, R.A., Munk, L.A., Foster A. L., Shanks, W.C., and, Stillings, L.L., 2008. Sulfide Oxidation and Redistribution of Metals near Abandoned Copper Mines in Coastal Environments, Prince William Sound, Alaska, Applied Geochemistry, Applied Geochemistry, v. 23, p227-254.

Koski, R.A., and Munk, L.A., editors, 2007.  Chemical Data for Rock, Sediment, Biological, Precipitate, and Water Samples from Abandoned Copper Mines in Prince William Sound, Alaska, USGS Open File Report 2007-1359, 20p.

Munk, L.A., Faure, G., and Koski, R.A., 2006.  Geochemical Evolution of Solutions Derived from Experimental Weathering of Sulfide-Bearing Rocks, Applied Geochemistry, v.21, p. 1123-1134.

Anderson, S.W., Flood, T.P., and Munk, L.A., 2006. Bucking the Trend: Three New Geoscience Programs, Journal of Geoscience Education, v. 54, no. 1, p. 41-49.

Mueller, S.H., Hart, C.J.R., Goldfarb, R.J., Munk, L.A. and Diment, R. 2004. Post-mining hydrogeochemical conditions, Brewery Creek Gold deposit, central Yukon. In: Yukon exploration and Geology, 2003, D.S. Emond and L.L. Lewis (eds.) Yukon Geological Survey, p.271-280.

Munk, L.A., and Faure G., 2004.  Effects of pH Fluctuations on Potentially Toxic Metals in the Water and Sediment of the Dillon Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado.  Applied Geochemistry, Vol. 19, no. 7, pp. 1065-1074.

Mueller, S.H., Goldfarb, R.J., Miller, M.L., Munk, L.A., Sanzolone R., Lamothe P.J., Adams M., Briggs P.H., McClesky R.B., and Theodorakos P.M. 2003. Surface and Ground Water Geochemistry Near the Donlin Creek Gold Deposit, Southwestern Alaska. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 03-492, 31 p.

Munk, L.A., Faure, G., Pride, D.E., and Bigham, J.M., 2002.  Sorption of trace metals to an aluminum precipitate in a stream receiving acid rock-drainage; Snake River, Summit County, Colorado.  Applied Geochemistry, v 17, no. 4, pp. 421-430.

Vogel, T.A., Cambray, F.W., Feher, L.A., Constenius, K.N., 1997.  Petrochemistry and emplacement history of the Wasatch Igneous Belt, Utah.  Geology and ore deposits of the Oquirrh and Wasatch Mountains, Utah, Society of Economic Geologists, Guidebook Series, v. 29, pp. 47-63.