Rita Parai
Postdoctoral Fellow

Rita Parai

Research Interests

Origin of volatiles in terrestrial planets; early Earth environments; timing and mechanism of lunar formation; chemical cycling between deep Earth and surface reservoirs; chemical constraints on geodynamics


A.B., cum laude, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, 2007 A.M., Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard, 2012 Ph.D., Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard, 2014

Contact & Links


Rita Pirai
Examining pahoehoe on Kilauea, Hawaii. Photo courtesy Rita Parai.

Rita Parai’s research focuses on the origins and evolution of planetary volatile budgets. She studies planet formation and processing using measurements of volatile and moderately volatile species in terrestrial and planetary materials.

For her Ph.D. work, Parai used high-precision measurements of noble gases in mid-ocean ridge basalts to place new constraints on volatile exchange between the mantle and exosphere and the origins and nature of mantle heterogeneity. Parai used Monte Carlo methods to improve our estimates of the amount of water that is subducted to the deep Earth. She also developed numerical models to better understand xenon isotopic constraints on early terrestrial volatile loss and the timing of the Moon-forming giant impact.

At DTM, Parai is searching for evidence of mass-dependent isotopic fractionation in volatile-depleted bodies such as the Moon in order to better understand the processes that shaped planetary bodies in the early Solar System. She is also interested in figuring out whether mass-dependent isotope effects can place new constraints on the chemical co-evolution of mantle, crust and oceans.