Montana State University

Department of Earth Sciences

Montana State University
P.O. Box 173480
Bozeman, MT 59717-3480

Tel: (406) 994-3331
Fax: (406) 994-6923
Location: 226 Traphagen Hall

Department Chair

Dr. David Mogk

Kaj Williams

Assistant Research Professor

Contact Information

Phone: (406)994-3338


B.S. Excelsior College, (formerly USNY/Regents College)
M.A. Sociology, University of Nebraska – Omaha
M.A. Mathematics, University of Kansas
M.S. Astrophysical, Planetary and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Colorado – Boulder
PhD. Atmospheric Science, University of Colorado – Boulder

Research Interests

My research centers mainly on the interaction between planetary surfaces and atmospheres, where I typically use mathematical modeling along with principles of fluid dynamics, geology, physics, chemistry and meteorology.  In particular, I study the thermodynamic stability of ice, snow and other volatiles.  The ice and snow can either be directly exposed to the atmosphere, or the interaction can be mediated by other material (e.g. sublimation lags, permafrost active layers, etc.)  This area of study involves ice and snow microphysics as well as boundary-layer meteorology.  Thus far I have studied processes on Earth, Mars and Titan.
Other areas of research I’ve conducted include cratering rates on Callisto and the micrometeorology of ice caves on Earth and Mars.

Selected Publications

Heldmann, J. L., W. Pollard, C. P. Mckay, M. M. Marinova, A. Davila, K. E. Williams, D. Lacelle, and D. T. Andersen (2013), The high elevation Dry Valleys in Antarctica as analog sites for subsurface ice on Mars, Planetary and Space Science, 85(C), 53–58, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2013.05.019.

J.L. Heldmann, M. Marinova, K.E. Williams, D. Lacelle, C.P. McKay, A. Davila, W. Pollard and D.T. Andersen (2012). Formation and evolution of buried snowpack deposits in Pearse Valley, Antarctica, and implications for Mars. Antarctic Science, 24, pp 299­316 doi:10.1017/S0954102011000903
Williams, K. E., McKay, C. P. and Persson, F. (2012) The surface energy balance at the Huygens Landing site and the moist surface conditions on Titan. Planetary and Space Science. Vol 60, nr. 1.

Williams, K. E., Pappalardo, R. T. (2011) Variability in the Small Crater Population of Callisto. Icarus 215,1.

Williams, K.E., McKay, C. P., Toon, O.B., Head, J. W. (2010) Do Ice Caves Exist on Mars? Icarus 209,2.

Williams, K.E., Toon, O. B., Heldmann, J. L., Mellon, M. (2009) Ancient melting of mid-latitude snowpacks on Mars as a water source for gullies, Icarus, 200.

Williams, K.E., Toon, O.B., Heldmann, J.L. , McKay C.P. and Mellon, M. (2008) Stability of Mid-Latitude Snowpacks on Mars, Icarus, 196.

Williams, K. E., O. B. Toon, and J. Heldmann (2007), Modeling water ice lifetimes at recent Martian gully locations, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L09204, doi:10.1029/2007GL029507.

Lai, Y.C., Lerner, D, Williams, K and Crebogi, C. (Nov. 1999) Unstable dimension variability in coupled chaotic systems. Physical Review E 60 (5): 5445-5454 Part A.