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Steve Altaner

Associate Professor Emeritus

Research Interests

Principal research interests lie in the fields of the petrology (occurrence, origin, and geological significance), geochemistry, and mineralogy of clays.  Research experience includes ammonium (NH4) in illite (tobelite); understanding of the origin of anthracite primarily through analysis of associated clay minerals including tobelite; ammonium in geologic environments; mechanism of the smectite to illite reaction; silicate diagenesis in hydrothermal and burial diagenetic environments; Monte Carlo simulations of mixed-layer clay mineral structures; rates of clay mineral transformations; nuclear magnetic resonance characterization of structural environments of interlayer and framework cations in clays; origin of K-bentonite and diffusion in clay-rich strata.


Ph.D., Univ. of Illinois, Geology, 1985
B.S., magna cum laude, Colgate Univ., Geology, 1979


National Science Foundation, teaching (Co-PI)    2014-2016             $2,000,000
National Science Foundation - research               1995 - 1997           $205,000
National Science Foundation - research               1994 - 1997           $20,000
Univ. of Illinois Research Board - equipment        1995                      $6,900
American Chemical Society - research                1994 - 1996           $50,000
Univ. of Illinois Research Board - research          1993 - 1994           $4,900
National Science Foundation - research              1992 - 1994           $144,000
National Science Foundation - equipment           1990                      $15,000
Univ. of Illinois Research Board - equipment       1990                      $7,500
National Science Foundation - research              1990 - 1993           $165,000
National Science Foundation - research              1987 - 1989           $65,000
American Chemical Society - research                1987 - 1989           $18,000

Awards and Honors

2009                Outstanding Teacher of Freshmen Award, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Soc., Univ. of Illinois
2004                Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, LAS College, Univ. of Illinois
2004                Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Univ. of Illinois
1998 - 2001     Associate Editor for Clays & Clay Minerals
1998                Prokasy Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, LAS College, Univ. of Illinois
1991                University Scholar's Award, Univ. of Illinois
1989 - 1991     Elected to Council of Clay Minerals Society
1982 - 1985     Exxon Graduate Student Fellowship, Univ. of Illinois
1979 - 1982     Graduate College Fellowship, Univ. of Illinois
1979                Phi Beta Kappa, Colgate Univ.

Courses Taught

Geology 100             Planet Earth
Geology 101             Introduction to Physical Geology
Geology 110             Exploring Geology in the Field
Geology 118             Natural Disasters
Geology 333             Earth Materials and the Environment
Geology 380             Environmental Geology
Geology 415/515      Field Geology - Central California
Graduate course        Mineralogy of Clays
Graduate course        Petrology of Clays
Graduate course        Sedimentary Geochemistry
Graduate course        Physical Geochemistry
Short Course (20 hr) on Clay Minerals: Mineralogy, Geology, and Identification by X-ray Diffraction (Given to Illinois State Geological Survey, Champaign, IL)
ESE 445                    Earth Resources Sustainability (online)