Professor Andy Baker
Field of Research: 
Hydrogeology, Climatology (incl. Palaeoclimatology),Isotope Geochemistry, Inorganic Geochemistry, Organic Geochemistry,Surfacewater Hydrology, Groundwater Hydrology
Contact details:
+61 450 148 648

Room 345, Materials Science and
Engineering Building (E10)
UNSW, Kensington 2052

Education BSc (Hons) Bristol, PhD Bristol


My research interests include hydrology, hydrogeology, cave and karst research, paleoclimatology, and isotope, organic and inorganic geochemistry.

Research Goals To apply isotopic and geochemical techniques to improve our understanding of environmental processesTo use cave speleothems to reconstruct past climates and environments.To improve our understanding of Australia’s groundwater resource.

I have established isotope geochemistry facilities at UNSW Australia that include a Thermo MAT-253 with Kiel Carbonate Device, a Thermo Delta-V with high temperature EA and GC, and numerous Picarro and Los Gatos cavity ringdown mass spectrometers. These instruments have a wide range of research applications in freshwater and groundwater environments, such as the analysis of stalagmites, coral and bone samples for their oxygen and carbon isotopic composition, the analysis of the isotopic composition of carbon dioxide and methane gas in surface and subsurface environments, the analysis of water isotopes to understand atmosphere-surface-groundwater interactions, and the analysis of carbon and nitrogen isotopes for food web and paleoenvironmental research.

I am also an expert in organic matter characterisation, primarily using fluorescence spectroscopy, and more recently using LC-OCD and biomolecules such as GDGTs and lignin. Research facilities include Horiba Aqualog spectrometers, Xylem EXO2 and Turner in-situ fluorescence probes, and laboratory facilities for the analysis of biomolecules. These techniques are used to better understand organic matter fate and transport in surface and ground water environments.

I apply my understanding of organic isotope geochemistry and inorganic isotope geochemistry to research questions which include the use of speleothems to reconstruct past environments, to better understand surface-water ground water interactions, and to help understand and manage Australia’s water resource.

Selected Recent Research Grants

Baker, A, O'Carroll, D and Andersen, M. Groundwater organic matter: carbon source or sink? Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2016

Baker, A, Meredith, K, Pigois, J, Norman, M., Post, V and Shortland-Jones, H. Unlocking the secrets of the groundwater cycle using Si and Li isotopes.Australian Research Council Linkage Project 2015

Baker, A, Turney, C, Cartwright, I, Schulmeister, J, Larsen, J, Jenkins, K, Pickford, R,  Timms, W. A coupled  high temperature elemental analyser - gas chromatograph - mass spectrometer for climate, water and ecological research. ARC LIEF  2014

Baker, A, Meehan, S, Treble, P, Andersen, M, Fairchild, I, Spate, A, Tozer, M and Baker A. To what extent does fire affect karst processes? Burning questions for fire management. ARC Linkage Round 2013

Baker, A., Khan, S.J., Blyth, A.J., Source – receptor analysis of lignin phenols and microbial tetraether membrane lipids in karst to quantify stalagmite biomarker proxies of vegetation and temperature change. Australian Research Council Discovery Project, 2011-2014.

Baker, A., Drysdale, R. Frisia, S., Treble, P, Acworth, I., Hua, Q., Herries, A, Meissner, K., and Fink, D.   ‘A mass spectrometer to analyse carbonate isotope records of Australia's climate, soil and groundwater history’. Australian Research Council LIEF 2011.

Current PhD Research Projects 

Current PhD researchers for whom I am lead supervisor are:

Carol Tadros. Understanding the trace element proxy in Australian speleothems (co-supervised with Pauline Treble, ANSTO)

Monika Markowska. Climate – infiltration – speleothem proxy relationship, Harrie Wood Cave (co-supervised with Martin Andersen and Pauline Treble, ANSTO) 

Mohammadreza Keshavarsi.  Novel geochemical and geophysical characterization of fractured rock karst aquifers (co-supervised with Bryce Kelly)

Peter Graham. Hydrogeochemistry and surface water – groundwater interactions at Wellington, NSW (co-supervised with Martin Andersen)

Eliza Wells. Novel isotope geochemical characterization of a carbonate island aquifer (co-supervised with Martin Andersen, Vincent Post (Flinders) and Karina Meredith (ANSTO))



Courses I teach GEOS2291 Ground and Surface Water (where I teach surface and groundwater quality). GEOS3733/6733 Environmental Geophysics (where I teach optical geophysics techniques such as fluorescence and absorbance spectroscopy and cavity ringdown mass spectrometer). I also give occasional lectures on GEOS3761 Environmental Change (stalagmites and paleoclimate) and GEOS1211 Environmental Earth Science (coal seam gas). I am also a regular teacher at advanced level short-courses at international conferences, workshops and summer schools.

Professional affiliations and service positions I am a former director of the Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre. This is UNSW Australia’s research centre which focuses on groundwater and surface water – groundwater connectivity. I am the former program leader within the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, responsible for research into the ‘innovative characterisation of aquifers and aquitards’. I am an Associate Editor of the journal Water Research. I am an advisory committee member for the NSW State Government.


Philip Leverhulme Prize, 2003

Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Study, Durham, 2009