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Michelle Goman

Professor, and Director of the Sonoma State Quaternary Laboratory (SQUAL)

Dr. Goman Profile Photography
Michelle Goman




Stevenson 3502

Office Hours

My research seeks to understand the causes and impacts of environmental change that occurred in the past, particularly during the Holocene (last 10,000 years).  I believe that through an understanding of our past human-environment interactions we will be better prepared to understand future impacts of global environmental change.   I use biological and non-biological materials preserved in the geological record, primarily in lake and wetland sediments to understand variations in climate or environmental change during time frames before instrumental records existed.  

I have several ongoing research projects.  Research in Guerrero, Mexico focusses on geoarchaeological and paleobotanical analysis soils from a rock shelter.   These deposits also encompass a period of critical cultural change as they span the period of pre- and post European contact.  Closer to home, I have begun a project to reconstruct the paleoecology of ancient wetlands which are being exposed during construction work in the city of San Francisco.  These deposits offer a unique window into environments that are now severely disrupted or extirpated and so will provide valuable information for restoration projects.   

I run the Sonoma Quaternary Lab (SQUAL).   The lab is equipped with light and stereo microscopes for paleoecological and dendrochronological analyses, as well as a variety of equipment for different sedimentary analytical techniques, such as grainsize and humification analysis.

If you are interested in finding out more about the SQUAL lab, as well as undergraduate and graduate research opportunities please contact me


Fellow - Geological Society of America, elected 2018

Ph.D. - Geography, University of California at Berkeley, 1996.

M.A. - Geography, University of California at Berkeley, 1992.

B.A. Hons. - Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of Wales, 1988.

Academic Interests

  • Biogeography
  • Paleoecology and Paleoclimatology
  • Geomorphology
  • Mesoamerica
  • United States

Selected Publications & Presentations

Routson, C. et al., (2021) A multiproxy database of western North American Holocene paleoclimate records, Earth System Science Data, 13, 1613–1632.

Goman, M., Ashley, G., Owen, R.B., Driese, S., Muasya, A.M., Hover, V., (2020) High-resolution climate history of a tropical freshwater wetland, geochemical and biological proxies, Journal of African Earth Sciences, 162, 103703.

Goman, M., Joyce, A., Lund, S., Pearson, C., Guerra, W., Dale, D., Hammond, D.E. and Celestian, A. J., (2018) Preliminary Results from Laguna Minucúa a potentially annually resolved record of climate and environmental change for the past ~5000 years in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca, Mexico.  Quaternary International, 469, part B, 85-95.

Lund, S., Goman, M., Joyce, A., (2018) Paleomagnetic chronostratigraphy of Holocene Laguna Minucúa, Oaxaca, Mexico, Quaternary International, 469, part B, 169-178.

Goman, M., Ashley, G., Owen, R.B., Hover, V., Maharjan, D., (2017) Late Holocene Environmental Reconstructions from Lake Solai, Kenya, The Professional Geographer, 69, 3, 438- 454.

Albani, S., Mahowald, N.M., Winckler, G., Anderson, R.F., Bradtmiller, L.I., Delmonte, B., François, R., Goman, M., Heavens, N.G., Hesse, P.P., Hovan, S.A., Kang, S.G., Kohfeld, K.E., Lu, H., Maggi, V., Mason, A., Mayewski, P.A., McGee, D., Miao, X., Otto-Bliesner, L., Perry, A.T., Pourmand, A., Roberts, H.M., Rosenbloom, N., Stevens, T., Sun J., (2015). Twelve thousand years of dust: the Holocene global dust cycle constrained by natural archives. Climate of the Past, 11(6), 869-903.

Goman, M., Joyce, A. A., Mueller, R., & Middleton, W. D. (2014). Reconstructing the formation and land use history of the Mound 2 depression at Río Viejo, Oaxaca, Mexico. Quaternary International, 342, 33-44.

Joyce, A. A., Goman, M., Mueller, R., Borejsza, A. and Middleton, W., (2014). Human Impact on the Ancient Landscapes of Oaxaca, Mexico. In Climates of Change: Proceedings of the 44th Annual Chacmool Conference, S. Lacey (Ed.), University of Calgary Press, Calgary

Goman, M., Joyce, A. A., and Mueller, R., (2013) Paleoecological evidence for agriculture and forest clearance in Coastal Oaxaca, In Polity and Ecology: Formative Period Archaeology on the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, A. Joyce (Ed.), University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Mueller, R. G., Joyce, A. A., Borejsza, A. and Goman, M., (2013) Anthropogenic Landscape Change and the Human Ecology of the Lower Río Verde Valley, In Polity and Ecology: Formative Period Archaeology on the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, A. Joyce (Ed.), University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Joyce, A.A. and Goman, M. (2012) Bridging the Theoretical Divide in Holocene Landscape Studies: Social and Ecological Approaches to Ancient Oaxacan Landscapes, Invited review for Quaternary Science Reviews, 55, 1-22.

Malamud-Roam, F. and Goman, M. (2012) History of the San Francisco Bay estuary and salt marshes formation. In Ecology, Conservation, and Restoration of Tidal Marshes: The San Francisco Estuary, A. Palaima (Ed.) University of California Press.

Mahowald, N., Albani, S., Engelstaedter, S., Winckler, G., Goman, M. (2011) Model insight into paleodust records, Quaternary Science Reviews, 30, 7-8, 832-854.

Goman, M., Joyce, A. A., Mueller, R., and Passchyn, L., (2010) Multi-Proxy Paleoecological Reconstruction of Prehistoric Land Use History in the Western Region of the Lower Río Verde Valley, Oaxaca, Mexico. The Holocene, 20, 761-772.

Goman, M., Malamud-Roam, F., and Ingram, B.L. (2008) Paleoenvironmental investigations at China Camp State Park, San Francisco Bay, California. Journal of Coastal Research, 24. 5. 1126-1137.

Goman M., Ingram, B.L. and Strom, A. (2008) Composition of stable isotopes in Geoduck (Panopea abrupta) shells: A preliminary assessment of annual and seasonal paleoceanographic changes in the northeast Pacific, Quaternary International, 188, 117-125.

Cooper, S.R., Goman, M. and Richardson, C. (2008) Historical Gradient Changes in Water Quality and Vegetation in WCA-2A Determined by Paleoecological Analyses. In The Everglades Experiments: Lessons for Ecosystem Restoration. Series: Ecological Studies, vol. 201 Ed. C. Richardson, Springer, Chapter 12, pages 321-350.

Goman, M., and Leigh, D. (2006) Comment on “Holocene aridity and storm phases, Gulf and Atlantic coasts”, Quaternary Research, 66, 1, 182-184. 

Goman, M., (2005) The Development and application of a Statistical Calibration Model of Marsh Sediment Characteristics to the Stratigraphic Record, Journal of Sedimentary Research, 75, 3, 398- 408.

Goman, M., Joyce, A. A., and Mueller, R.., (2005) Stratigraphic Evidence for Anthropogenically Induced Coastal Environmental Change from Oaxaca, Mexico. Quaternary Research, 63, 3, 250-260.

Goman, M., and Leigh, D. (2004) Wet early to middle Holocene conditions on the Upper Coastal Plain of North Carolina, Quaternary Research, 61, 3, 256-264.

Ashley, G. M., Maitma Mworia, J., Muasya, A.M., Owen, R. B.,  Driese, S. G., Hover, V. C., Renaut, R. W., Goman, M., Mathai, S. and Blatt, S.H. (2004) Sedimentation and recent history of a freshwater wetland in a semi-arid environment: Loboi Marsh, Kenya, East Africa, Sedimentology, 51, 1-21

Muasya, A.M., Hover, V.C., Ashley, G. M., Owen, R. B., Goman, M. F., Kimeli, M. (2004) Diversity and distribution of macrophytes in a freshwater wetland, Loboi Swamp (RiftValley) Kenya.  Journal of East African Natural History 93: 39-47

Ashley, G. M., Goman, M., Hover, V.C., Owen, R.B., Renaut, R. W., (2002) Artesian blister wetlands, a perennial water resource in the semi-arid Rift Valley of East Africa. Wetlands 22, 4, 686-695.

Muasya, A.M., Ashley, G. M., Hover, V. C., Renaut, R. W., Owen, R. B., Goman, M. (2002) Vegetation on Artesian blister wetlands around Lake Bogoria. Nature East Africa, 32, 1 & 2, 7.

Goman, M. (2001) Statistical analysis of modern seeds assemblages from the San Francisco Bay: Applications for the reconstruction of paleo-salinity and paleo-tidal inundation. Journal of Paleolimnology, 26, 393-409.

Goman, M. and Wells, L., (2000) Trends in river flow over the last 7000 yr affecting the Northeastern reach of the San Francisco Bay estuary, Quaternary Research, 54, 206-217.

Goman, M. and Byrne, R., (1998) A 5,000 Year Record of Agriculture and Tropical Forest Clearance in the Tuxtlas, Veracruz, Mexico. The Holocene 8, 83-89.

Malamud-Roam K., Siegel, S., Goman, M. and Wells, L. (1995) Tidal Marshes: The marginal landscapes of San Francisco Bay. In Sangines E.M., and Anderson D.W. (editors) Geology and Hydrogeology of the South San Francisco Bay, Pacific Section SEPM.

Wells, L. and Goman, M., (1995) Late Holocene environmental variability in the upper San Francisco Estuary as reconstructed from tidal marsh sediments. In Isaacs C.M. and Tharp V.L., (editors) Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Pacific Climate (PACLIM) Workshop, April 19-22, 1994.  Interagency Ecological Program, Tech. Report 40.  Ca. Dept. of Water Resources.