Diamonds are geochemists best friend

In 2005, Carnegie scientists discover the world's oldest diamonds, the inclusions in which function as time capsules that record ancient movements of continents and the origins of plate tectonics

No longer bone dry

In 2011, Erik Hauri leads research that discovers water in the Moon's interior using our state-of-the-art geochemical facilities

Exploring the origins of Earth and our Solar System

The chemical signatures of rock and space dust hold clues to the deep histories of our planet, Solar System, and life itself—if you know where to look.

At the Earth and Planets Laboratory, scientists use specialized equipment to precisely measure the chemical and isotopic compositions in minuscule samples of rocks, space dust, solar wind, and more—sometimes down to counting individual atoms. Then they fit each new isotopic marker or molecule into the complex chemical equation that makes up the cosmos. Their goal? To create a timeline of the Earth and our Solar System's early development.

Our cosmochemists address the formation and early evolution of our Solar System, of meteorites and asteroids, and larger bodies like Mars, Mercury, and the Moon. Closer to home, our geochemists combine laboratory and field studies of modern and ancient rocks from diverse geographic areas to investigate the origin of Earth’s crust and the dynamic processes that exchange material between surface and interior.

Top Questions

Jianhua Wang With NanoSIMS

Tools of the Trade

We maintain six mass spectrometers for analyzing trace elements and isotope ratios at high sensitivity, high precision, and/or high spatial resolution. Our scientists share four electron beam instruments for the characterization of sample surfaces and elemental compositions, as well as for focused ion beam lift out for additional characterization such as transmission electron microscopy. We also utilize solid-state NMR, Raman, and FTIR spectroscopy to characterize natural and experimental samples.

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