Petrology, Mineralogy and Mineral Physics

Discovering what planets are made of and how they got that way.

Comparing carbon's compatibility with the silicates that comprise the Earth’s mantle (outer circle) to its compatibility with the iron that comprises the planet’s core (inner circle).

Our Research

We aim to understand the origin and dynamic evolution of Earth and planetary interiors, from their crusts to their cores, and the processes that lead to surfaces capable of supporting life. We investigate the minerals, rocks and melts that make up planetary interiors through a combination of observations from natural samples, high pressure and temperature experiments and computational and data analytic techniques. We use a broad range of lab-based and theory-based tools to explore the physics and chemistry of planetary materials from the atomic to the planetary scale.

Research Staff

George Cody - Geochemistry; chemical history of the early Solar System; applications of Solid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR)

Ronald Cohen - High pressure; materials; planetary science

Yingwei Fei - Earth and planet evolution; planetary interior processes; compositions of the Earth's mantle and core; physical properties of materials at high P and T; materials synthesis at high pressure; development of high-pressure techniques

Dionysis Foustoukos - Geochemistry; planetary science; evolution of geofluids in a wide range of natural environments

Zachary Geballe - High pressure; mineralogy

Alexander Goncharov - Metallic hydrogen and related materials; phase transformation and chemical reactivity of simple molecular materials under high pressure and high-temperature conditions; thermal conductivity of Earth and planetary materials; high-temperature superconductivity 

Robert Hazen - Coevolving geosphere and biosphere; Earth's evolving mineralogy; interactions among organic biomolecules and mineral surfaces; mineral-mediated chemistry in the context of origins of life; emergence of pre-biotic chemical complexity

Amol Karandikar - High pressure; materials; matter at extreme states

Shaunna Morrison - Data-driven approaches to characterizing the coevolution of the geosphere and biosphere; applications of advanced analytics to Earth and planetary systems, with a particular emphasis in mineral relationships; Martian mineralogy via surface missions and meteorites; crystal-chemical behavior and bonding systematics in minerals 

Bjørn Mysen - Physics and chemistry of materials; melting phase relations of mantle materials; isotope fractionation; structure and properties of silicate melts; solubility mechanisms, transport mechanisms in amorphous materials

Anat Shahar - Geochemistry; high pressure; planetary science

Steven B. Shirey - Igneous petrology; isotope geochemistry; trace element geochemistry; geochemical evolution of the Earth's crust and mantle

Sally June Tracy - High pressure; matter at extreme states; behavior of materials in extreme environments; mineral physics

Michael Walter - High-pressure experimental petrology; geochemistry; mineral physics

Technical Staff

Emma Bullock - Electron Microprobe Lab Manager

Joseph Lai - Instrumentation Engineer

Javier Rojas - Laboratory Engineer

Suzy Vitale - FIB Lab Manager

Jianhua Wang - SIMS Lab Manager

Jing (Jill) Yang - Laboratory Engineer

Postdoctoral Fellows and Associates

Asmaa Boujibar - Ph.D., Petrology, Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand (2014)

Elena Bykova - Ph.D., Natural Sciences, University of Bayreuth (2015)

Rajkrishna Dutta - Ph.D., Geophysics, Princeton University (2019)

Olivier Gagné - Ph.D., Crystal Chemistry, University of Manitoba (2016)

Nico Küter - Ph.D., Experimental Petrology, ETH Zurich (2018)

Francesca Miozzi - Ph.D., Mineral Physics, Sorbonne Université, France (2019)

Peng Ni Ph.D., Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, (2017) 

Nicole Xike Nie - Ph.D., Isotope Geo/Cosmochemistry, University of Chicago, (2019)

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Tools of the Trade

Experiments at pressure and temperature conditions ranging from planetary crusts to cores are made using a wide range of tools including 1 atm furnaces, cold-seal devices, piston cylinder, and multi-anvil presses, laser-heated diamond anvil cells and dynamic compression facilities. We analyze and characterize natural and experimental samples using our wide-ranging in-house capabilities including SEM, EPMA, FIB, NMR, Raman, FTIR and X-ray diffraction. We use national and international synchrotron facilities to probe samples in situ at micron and sub-micron scales Theoretical approaches utilize high-performance computing systems both on and off-campus and the Carnegie Memex cluster.

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