Growing appreciation of and concern for the effects of human activities on Earth has increased the relevance of study of the past and the present of Earth’s critical zone. The critical zone is the portion of Earth that hosts life and is an inclusive term that groups together the porous outer layers of the earth as well as the hydrosphere and the atmosphere. Traditional disciplines these studies would fall within are (bio) geochemistry, oceanography, paleontology, sedimentology, and stratigraphy.
Faculty in this area use a wide variety of techniques from geology and geophysics to study the physical structure and processes of the earth at a variety of time and spatial scales. Our students work both in the field and in the computer lab on projects located all over the world.
The petrology and geochemistry research group is principally concerned with the behavior of hydrothermal fluids and melts and their interaction with the Earth’s crust. Current areas of emphasis include the origin of sediment-hosted base metal and rare earth element ore deposits, hydrothermal alteration of the oceanic lithosphere (e.g. serpentinization and carbonation), CO2 sequestration in saline aquifers and hydrocarbon reservoirs, and fluid inclusion systematics and synthesis. The group uses a range of analytical techniques, experimental methods, and computational models in its research, with a particular focus on LA-ICP-MS, Raman spectroscopy, mineral synthesis at elevated temperatures and pressures, and numerical reactive transport simulation.